No. 1236 - Battery Point - St George's Anglican Church (1838)

Battery Point is an inner suburb on the east side of Hobart overlooking the Derwent River. Its name is derived from the Mulgrave Battery which was established in the 1818 as a coastal defence for Hobart. In the 19th century Battery Point was home to master mariners, shipwrights, seamen, fishermen, shipping agents and many others who worked in the shipbuilders’ yards and on the wharves. Until the mid 19th century much of Battery Point was undeveloped and without roads. A rough track ascended to Kermode's Hill, where St. George's Church now stands.

St Georges is one of the most striking churches in Hobart and is a notable landmark. The church was built in stages with the tower and portico being later additions. St George’s was opened on Whitsunday, in June, 1838. Its origins date back to 1834 when a subscription list was opened for a building fund and a site was purchased for £250. The Hobart Town Courier described the site as having “a commanding eminence between the battery and Luckman’s new windmill”. The trustees of the property were Messrs. James Grant, Thomas Smith, Robert Kerr, and Gamaliel Butler.

The design of the main body of the building was the work of John Lee Archer while the tower, built in 1846, was designed by former convict architect James Blackburn. The columned portico was only added in 1888 along with two wings that were constructed in 1862. The completed church strongly resembles St. Pancras Church, London.

Tenders for the church’s construction were first advertised in the Courier on 6 May 1836. The successful tender was awarded to John Wright, for an amount of £2,479, of which the Government contributed £1,229. The foundation stone was laid on 19 October 1837 by Governor George Arthur; this being his last public function as Governor of Van Diemen's Land.

The church was consecrated on 26 May1838 by the first and only Bishop of Australia, Dr. W. G. Broughton, who was assisted by the William Hutchins, the first Archdeacon of Van Diemen's Land.

The Courier’s report on the opening ceremony rather oddly devoted almost half of the article to a critique of the singing at the service:

“The seraphine was played by Mrs. Logan with her usual skill, and, accompanied by the voices of several ladies, produced a very pleasing and gratifying effect. Some of the congregation seemed to think that the tone of the instrument was not sufficient to contend against the voices. For our part we like to hear the congregation join (as they ought to do) heart and soul in the psalmody. Nothing can be worse during the singing of a psalm, than to hear the organ, without being capable of distinguishing the voices; it betrays a lukewarmness of devotional feeling which is not to be defended, and is totally inconsistent with the true principles of piety and Christianity…”.

The tower was left unfinished because of its cost. Construction was delayed further in the hope that a peal of bells might he added. The tower was to serve as a beacon for shipping when it was eventually completed in July 1847.

Further additions to the church began in 1862. The Mercury of 3 June 1863 recorded:

“The improvement has been effected: the front of the church is now uniform, and the completion of the porch is only necessary to render the building one of the most beautiful in Hobart Town. The additions to the church consist of a class and meeting room, and a vestry room, both of which are lofty and lighted by a large window in the Egyptian style of architecture, the latter (vestry) communicates with the church by a door. The cornices at each end of the front are constructed of very beautiful and elaborate, though chaste stonework, also in the Egyptian style, and the area in front of the entrance will be adorned with choice flowers and shrubs, which will be planted at the proper season”.

Finally, at a meeting of churchwardens and seat-holders held on 10 January 1888, the tender of Messrs. Seabrook and Reynolds for £637 was accepted for the completion of the portico. Mr. Robert Huckson was the supervising architect implementing Blackburn’s original plans. The large stones for the Grecian Doric columns were obtained from the quarry at the rear of the old Municipal Hall at Bellerive. On its completion it was found that one of the stones above the entrance had developed a significant crack but after investigation it was decided cover over the flaw rather than reconstruct the portico.

Of the church's interior and fixtures, Dorothea Henslowe writes:

"The bell was cast in Hobart by Swain. The coloured glass window, erected, in 1871, is unusual, being of very thin German glass with the colours burnt into the panes and not put in with led. The furnishings of the church were re-orientated in 1850 and a schoolroom built onto the East end in 1851 so that now the altar is is at the West end and the entrance at the East. The original cedar box pews are still in the church".

Over the years St Georges has been well maintained with several renovations including major restoration work was undertaken in 2019 and which was completed in the following year.

St George's Sunday school

Restoration work in 1938 - TAHO PH30-1-7266

TAHO - NS4077-1-240

St George's with Luckman's windmill (c.1860) TAHO - NS73-1-1-8

State Library of Victoria

The Mercury 2020

St Pancreas, London which St George's resembles. 


Hobart Town Courier,  Friday 14 October 1836, page 2
Hobart Town Courier, Friday 1 June 1838, page 2
The Examiner, Saturday 6 June 1863, page 4
Tasmanian News, Tuesday 9 October 1888, page 3
The Colonist, Saturday 20 October 1888, page 16
Mercury, Saturday 14 May 1938, page 17

Henslowe, Dorothea I. and Hurburgh, Isa.  Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania / by Dorothea I. Henslowe ; sketches by Isa Hurburgh, 1978


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