No. 1369 - Gardners Bay - St Barnabas' Anglican Church (1894)

Gardners Bay is rural community approximately 8 kilometres south of Cygnet on the Woodbridge Hill Road. The settlement takes its name from a bay south of Cygnet.

The origins of St Barnabas’ Anglican church dates back to November 1893 as reported in the Tasmanian News:

“Members of the Church of England are about to build a church at Gardner’s Bay. Great credit is due to Mrs Thomas Nichols and Mrs Cockerill for the active steps they have taken in providing the necessary funds for this good purpose”.

There are no published records of the church’s opening in October 1894 however the role of Mrs Sarah Nichols in establishing the church was acknowledged by Bishop Montgomery who wrote:

“Dear Mrs Nichols, — I must write you a line before I go, telling you how thankful I am to you for what you and your husband have done for Gardner's Bay. The building which you have been instrumental in erecting will be a great blessing. It may preserve the whole neighbourhood to the church, and build up our people in a way that could not have been done without your assistance and that of your friends. I trust I may look forward to a very happy visit and to a confirmation next year…..”.

Captain Thomas Nichols and his wife Sarah were both generous benefactors of the church having donated the land on which it was built and in supporting its activities over many years.

In 1899 the church was extended with the addition of a chancel. In November of the same year the Mercury reported that a bazaar was held in the Devereux Hall for the purpose of reducing the debt of about £40 due on the chancel:

“The bazaar comprised of one large stall, in common charge of the following ladies: - Mesdames Cockerill, W. Nicholls, Benbones, Wolfe; Misses Round and Polley. Mesdames T. Nichols, and Lockley conducted the supply of refreshments. The stalls were well supplied with goods, but at the opening ceremony the attendance was not large…”.

In October 1912 a report in Hobart’s Daily Post proclaimed:

“For the first time in the history of the parish, a confirmation service was held at St Barnabas’ Church, Gardner’s Bay, when the rector presented 13 candidates….”.

In preparation for Bishop Mercer’s visit to Gardner’s Bay in 1912 the Daily Post reported:

“A most creditable action, and one worthy of note, was performed last Saturday when a large number of men, at the instigation of the rector (the Rev. G.W. Ratten), formed themselves into a working bee and cleared the Church of England ground, erected gates and fencing, and fixed ventilators in St Barnabas Church… Mrs Wolfe and the Misses Polley dispensed afternoon tea to the willing and thirsty band of helpers”.

1912 was a busy year for the church and its rector. The Huon Times records:

“The Sunday-school children attending the Anglican Church (St. Barnabas) at Gardner's Bay had a splendid time at their picnic last Wednesday….The rector (Rev. G. W. Ratten) is to be congratulated on his organising this branch of church work. It is many years since a Sunday-school picnic was held, and the pleasure it afforded the juveniles must have compensated the teachers for their trouble. Mr W. Nichols kindly loaned his paddock for the function. - It is an ideal locality, shady, a creek running through it, and a nice level spot for games. Swings were erected and the way in which our rector exercised himself so vigorously in swinging the children surprised all; he entered into all the games….Cheers were given, at the instigation of the rector, for Mr and Mrs Nicholls, the superintendent (Miss H, Polley) and the teachers, and were lusty — as children can make them. The Rev G. W. Ratten narrowly escaped a serious accident on returning from the picnic. He was driving in his sulky, the lamp burning well, when a trap in the opposite direction having no light ran into him, not far from Lucas’ hall. The impact jerked the lamp out of its socket, extinguishing the light and bent the very thick brass cap of the wheel; had it been the slightest degree nearer a very serious collision would have occurred….”.

News of the church’s activities were reported sporadically in the local press but the building was used as a regular place of worship for many years. In 1967 St Barnabas’ was one of about 20 churches lost in the devastating bushfires that swept across Southern Tasmania. In 1970 the church was replaced by a new church hall which was opened and dedicated in June 1970. Services continued to be held in the hall until the mid 1980s. In 1989 St Barnabas’ Church Hall was sold and the building was subsequently converted into a house.

I have yet to find a photograph of the old church and a photograph of the converted church hall has been used to illustrate this article.

St Barnabas' Church Hall (

A Google Street-view screenshot of the church hall after it was converted into a house.

The Clipper, Saturday 15 September 1894


Tasmanian News, Wednesday 22 November 1893, page 3
The Clipper, Saturday 15 September 1894, page 5
The Mercury, Friday 10 November 1899, page 3
Huon Times, Friday 30 December 1911, page 3
Huon Times, Saturday 17 February 1912, page 5
Huon Times, Saturday 4 May 1912, page 2
Huon Times, Wednesday 7 August 1912, page 2
Daily Post, Tuesday 8 October 1912, page 6
Daily Post, Wednesday 23 October 1912, page 8
Huon Times, Friday 19 August 1927, page 2
Huon Times, Friday 18 October 1929, page 1

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


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