No. 1350 - Hobart - Chalmers' 'Sabbath School' (1852) and Manse (1857)

This article is one of a series about buildings associated with Tasmania’s historical churches and religious orders. These buildings include Sunday schools, parish halls, convents, schools and residences of the clergy. Ancillary buildings are often overlooked and rarely feature in published histories. My aim is to create a basic record of these buildings, including those that no longer exist.

In April 1851 Reverend W. Nicolson arrived at Hobart and commenced preaching at the Mechanic’s Institute Hall where he drew a significant following. This led to a campaign to build Hobart’s first Free Church of Scotland. In October 1851 the construction of Chalmers Church began with a Sabbath school built alongside the church. In November 1857 the construction of a manse on Bathurst Street began.

The ceremonial laying of the manse’s foundation stone was described by the Hobart Town Mercury:

“Tuesday last, the 17th instant, having been appointed for laying the Foundation Stone of the New Manse for the Minister of Chalmers’ Church, the occasion awakened very considerable interest. For some time before five o'clock, the hour fixed on for the ceremony, numbers of people continued to arrive on the ground to witness the proceedings. Those who occupied stations within the enclosure, were admitted by tickets, one shilling each, which also entitled the holders to partake of the tea and refreshments, that were amply provided, after the Laying of the Stone.

There was a large concourse present, who seemed to witness the transaction with great interest; among whom were ministers belonging to different Denominations. Precisely at five o'clock, the Rev. W. Nicolson, Minister of the Church, attended by the Elders and Deacons, advanced through the crowd, and took his station in front of the Stone. Mr. [William Montgomery] Davidson, the Architect, and Mr. Pretty the Contractor, were there to receive them; and the ceremony of Laying the Stone was immediately proceeded with. A Bottle, containing certain documents, and securely sealed, was deposited in a cavity provided for it in the Stone; and, the Stone having been lowered to its position and adjusted, the Rev. W. Nicolson applied the Mallet, Trowel, and Level, in due Masonic fashion, and pronounced the Foundation Stone securely and properly laid, in accordance with the rules and ceremonies of the Masonic Art. The Rev. Gentle man then ascended to the temporary platform, which was chiefly occupied by Ladies, and addressed the assemblage….”.

The Church, Sabbath school and Manse presented an impressive streetscape as can be seen in the photograph accompanying this article. It is hard to comprehend that all three buildings were demolished in the 1950s.

With the end of services at Chalmers in 1952 the buildings were put up for sale. They were purchased by the Neptune Oil Company and demolished in 1955 to develop the site for a service station.

The Manse, Sabbath school and church.  (undated photograph) Libraries Tasmania's digitised collection of State Archive photographs - Glass Plate Negative collected by E R Pretyman (NS1013) Photographer is not named.


Courier, Wednesday 18 November 1857, page 2
Hobart Town Advertiser, Wednesday 18 November 1857, page 2
Hobart Town Mercury, Monday 23 November 1857, page 3


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