No. 1252 - Wyena - St Silas' Anglican Church and Cemetery (1894-1956)

Wyena is a small rural settlement located on the old North-Eastern Railway Line approximately 15 kilometres north of Lilydale and 5 kilometres from Lebrina. The settlement centred on Burns Road overlooking the Denison River. Wyena is an Aboriginal word meaning 'small timber’.

Very little is known about Wyena’s Anglican church. All that remains is a small overgrown cemetery. The church was built in 1894 and dedicated to St Silas by Bishop Montgomery. No record of the church’s opening service survives. In ‘Our Heritage of Anglican Churches in Tasmania’, Dorothea Henslowe records that the church was built for £10 by voluntary labour.

The earliest newspaper report referencing the church dates to April 1895:

“A magic lantern lecture was given here (at Lebrina) last night by Rev. Webster of Launceston. It was held in the railway goods shed, and was in aid of of improvements to the Church of England building at Wyena…the shed was well filled with an appreciative audience…”.

Further references to the church are few and far between and a selection of these are reproduced as follows:

Sunday school festival - 8 January 1911:

“Last Sunday at 3 p.m. the Sunday school festival of St Silas’ Church of England, Wyena, was celebrated. The church was crowded. The special singing by the children was very good. The rector (Rev. G. Rowe, B.A.) was preacher, and during the service he presented valuable prizes won by the school children during the year. The church was appropriately decorated for the occasion”.

A wedding - Wednesday 26 July 1911:

“A pretty wedding took place…at St Silas’s Church, Wyena, the contracting parties being Mr James Wallace, of the Tunnel, and Miss Elsie Maud Ryan of Wyena. The vicar (Rev. Geo. Rowe, B.A., Th.L) officiated. The bride, who was given away by her father, was beautifully gowned in pale silk blue. She wore the usual wreath and veil, and carried a bouquet of orange blossoms. Miss Ivy Ryan, the bridesmaid, looked charming, and Mr John Ryan acted as best man. The wedding aroused great local interest, and the church was full of friends….The happy couple left by the afternoon train…”.

Sunday school festival - Sunday 8 December 1912:

“The Sunday-school festival of St Silas’ Church Wyena, was celebrated when the vicar (Rev. Geo. Rowe B.A.) preached to a large congregation. during the service the prizes were presented to the scholars by the vicar. The children sang very sweetly under the leadership of the organist (Miss Lillian Shepherd), and the church was nicely decorated. On Friday the annual picnic was held in Mr. Waldron’s paddock, when the usual games and races were indulged in.…At the close cheers were given for Miss Ivy Ryan, the popular superintendent, and for the organist”.

Harvest Festival - Sunday 9 March 1919:

“The harvest thanksgiving of St Silas’ Anglican Church was held on Sunday last. The church was suitably decorated by the ladies of the congregation. The service was taken by the Rev. Armson, there being a good congregation”.

The last published reference to the church relates to a wedding in January 1930. According to Dorothea Henslowe, “the building was pulled down about 1956 and the timber sold as the church had not been used for many years”. This is confirmed by records held in the State Archive concerning the disposal of the church organ and funds from selling the building in 1957.

No photograph of the church exist in the public domain and the only tangible evidence left of the building is a handful of headstones in the cemetery.

Photographs used in this article are my own and were taken in 2023.

Martha Shepherd - 29-04-1937

? Shepherd 

Thomas Ryan - 13-07-1922

Louisa Shepherd - 30-01-1919

George Shipton - 08-08-1904


The Mercury, Tuesday 1 January 1895, page 3
The Tasmanian, Saturday 4 September 1895, page 46
Examiner, Thursday 12 January 1911, page 6
Daily Telegraph, wednesday 2 August 1911, page 4
Examiner, Wednesday 18 December 1912, page 5
Daily Telegraph, Thursday 13 March 1919, page 8
Examiner, Tuesday 28 January 1930, page 9

Tasmanian State Archives, Register of Services - Wyena [2 letters re disposal of church organ and funds from selling the building] Item Number NS5488/1/1

Henslowe, Dorothea I and Hurburgh, Isa Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas, 1978.


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