No. 1359 - Baden - Baden Hall - Anglican Church (1902)

This article is one in a series about public buildings in country areas that were used as places of worship. In these communities churches may have been planned but were never built due to lack of finance or changing circumstances. In most settlements, before a church was built, worship was typically held in homes, schoolrooms, barns, halls and other buildings. Conversely, in some communities, churches were sometimes the first public building erected and were used as schools and community halls. The focus of this series will primarily be on the public halls and schools that were used as churches. These buildings, and the religious communities which used them, are often overlooked in published histories of churches.

Baden is farming community close to Tunnack and approximately 20 kilometres southeast of Oatlands. The area was originally was known as Rumney's Hut, after William Rumney, one of the first free settler in the area. For many years the only building which existed here was Rumney’s hut but this changed in 1860 with the establishment of a police station which formed an out-station of the Oatlands Municipal Police. A township grew around the police station which included a hotel, post office and store. In 1902 a community hall was built but many years were to pass before a church was established. Around the time that the hall was built Rumney’s Hut was renamed Baden, after Lord Baden-Powell, in honour of three men from the district who served in the Boer War under Colonel Baden-Powell, hero of the siege of Mafeking and founder of the Boy Scouts movement.

The official opening of the Baden Public Hall on 21 February 1902 was reported by Launceston’s Daily Telegraph:

“This locality, hitherto known as Rumney Huts…. was in gala trim on Friday last. The occasion for the gathering was the opening of the Baden Hall. The building is somewhat similar, but slightly larger than the Jubilee Hall at Parattah, and has been erected by local effort, on land presented by Mr Geo. Nettlefold, one of the energetic public men of the district, and a resident of Baden. The afternoon was devoted to cricket, with refreshments on the ground in the shape of afternoon tea, etc. In the evening the large hall was packed with an enthusiastic audience, while a varied programme of vocal and instrumental music, with recitations, was rendered by local musicians, ably assisted ted by visitors from Colebrook. …These halls are a great boon in country districts, and the residents of Baden are to be congratulated on the possession of so fine a specimen”.

Like public halls in many rural communities, Baden’s hall proved to be a “great boon” for local members of the Anglican church and was used as a place of worship for almost 70 years. While it is not recorded when the hall was first used for worship, Anglican services date back to at least 1908. In December 1910 the Hobart Mercury records that:

“At the conclusion of the Anglican Church service held in the Baden hall, the rector (Rev. F. Gibbs) presented Miss Agnew Weeding of Pinecrest, with a silver-mounted writing desk from the members of the Anglican Church at Baden, in recognition of her services as organist for the past two years, they greatly appreciating her help to them, especially as she resides some miles from Baden….”.

Fundraising to build a church began in the 1930s and several reports of fairs held in the hall for church funds appear in newspapers from this period. One such fair held in 1945 raised an impressive amount of £76.

In April 1935 the Hobart Mercury published a report on the annual harvest festival:

“The annual harvest thanksgiving service for adherents of the Church of England in Baden and the surrounding districts was held in the Baden Hall on Sunday. The hall was bountifully decorated with grain, vegetables, fruit and flowers. There was a large congregation. The service was conducted by the rector of Oatlands (the Rev. L.A. Burgess). A sale of gifts and social were held on Monday, and there was a large gathering. The goods were disposed of by auction by Mr. D. Nettlefold. Music for dancing was supplied by Mr. R. Jones. Supper was served by a women’s committee”.

While reports of religious activities at Baden are infrequent, largely a result of the communities isolation, Anglican services were regularly held in the hall until 1970. This was the year that the community at last acquired their own church; a wooden chapel relocated from Jane Franklin Hall at the University of Tasmania.

In May 1970 the new church opened and was dedicated to St Mary. The church functioned for about 30 years before services ceased. The building was sold and later demolished. Baden Hall was destroyed by an arsonist in June 2023.

Baden Hall (photo 2019)


Daily Telegraph, Thursday 27 February 1902, page 4
Daily Post, Thursday 27 January 1910, page 7
Daily Post, Wednesday 2 February 1910, page 7
The Mercury, Monday 19 December 1910, page 3
The Mercury, Wednesday 10 April 1935, page 2
The Mercury, Monday 13 January 1938, page 4
The Mercury, Thursday 1 November 1945, page 7

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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