No. 1379 - South Forest - St Stephen's Anglican Church (1935-1966)

South Forest is a rural area in the Circular Head region and is situated approximately 15 kilometres east of Smithton. South Forest was settled around the turn of the 20th century.

In 1911 a visitor to the area observed:

“South Forest farmers are an industrious, hard working, contented community who, by dint of perseverance, thrift, and economy, generally manage to make both ends meet, and have a little to spare. In the majority of cases the holdings are private property, consequently the population is not a migratory one…”.

Due to its relatively late settlement, South Forest only acquired a church 1930s. It was not a new building but the former All Saints' Anglican church located at Black River, which had been built in 1870.

In June 1935 the Advocate reported:

“A meeting of parishioners of the Church of England and those interested in the erection of a church for the Mengha district was held on Wednesday night at the residence of Mrs.W. H. Young, South Forest. Despite heavy rain there was a good attendance. The Rector (Rev. J. J. Cramp) presided. The chairman said it was evident there was great need for a church, and they were in the fortunate position of not having to beg for an allotment on which to build, as two had been already offered as free gifts by residents. The church at Black River, which was so seldom used, was also offered by Black River residents. After a little discussion the land and church were gratefully accepted. An energetic committee, with Miss Laurel Emmerton, of South Forest, as the honorary secretary, was appointed. The committee undertook to raise £100 towards expenses…”.

Work on preparing the site donated by Mr F. Turner began in August 1935. The building was rebuilt and extended by Mr J. Walters. The church was completed before the end of the year and was officially opened on Wednesday 18 December. The church was dedicated to St Stephen. The Circular Head Chronicle reported:

“The opening service of the new church at South Forest was held on Wednesday night, when the attendance was large, and the Rector, the Rev. J. J. Cramp, assisted by the Rev. J. E. Atkins, rector of Smithton, officiated. A full choir from St. Paul’s Church, Stanley, which was conveyed gratuitously in cars lent by Messrs. J. J . Holmes, C. W. Etchell and A. Roy Smith, led the singing…, Mr. Atkins…. said that he was proud to be the first to preach in the new church. On behalf of the Bishop and Archdeacon Atkinson he congratulated the South Forest people on their fine achievement of removing the old church from Black River, enlarging and re-erecting it in the course of a few months and handing it to the Church free from debt. Portions of the church were 60 years old, so in it people had a link with the past…. Appropriate hymns were sung, and the acoustic properties of the building made it enjoyable to sing….”.

The church was used for about 30 years before it closed due to a dwindling population. In 1967 it was moved to Mawbanna and reopened as All Saints’ Anglican Church.

I have yet to find a photograph of St Stephen's and have used a photograph of the church after it was moved to Mawbanna, at which time the building was further modified.

The photograph is of All Saints' a Mawbanna which was removed from South Forest in 1967. Photographer: Karina Barker - shared with the Churches of Tasmania Facebook Group. 


North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Monday 6 November 1911, page 4
Advocate, Wednesday 5 June 1935, page 6
Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954), Saturday 8 June 1935, page 3
Advocate, Wednesday 10 July 1935, page 8
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 31 July 1935, page 1
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 11 December 1935, page 3
Advocate, Monday 23 December 1935, page 6
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 25 December 1935, 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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