No. 1380 - Runnymede - Anglican Church (1860)

Runnymede is a farming district on the Tasman Highway and is situated approximately 20 kilometres north of Sorell. It was previously named Brushy Plains until the present name was adopted in the 1840s. Runnymede was a 13000 acre property belonging to Askin Morrison, a prominent Hobart businessman and farmer.

In 1860 the construction of a church was begun at Runnymede but this was never in completed. In May 1860 The Hobart Town Advertiser reported:

“The attempt that was made some time since to erect a Church at Runnymede, has been so far successful, that the walls of a good and substantial edifice are contemplated. For the preservation of the masonry, however, if no other reason could be urged, if it absolutely necessary to roof the building without delay, or the storms of winter will totally undo all that has been done. It has been estimated that £100 will cover the cost of rendering the edifice impervious to wind and water, and it will undoubtedly sufficient for the the Trustees of the Building Committee to make the necessity known to ensure the forthcoming of the [necessary] funds. It would indeed be ungracious on the part of the residents to suffer the erection to remain in its present unfinished and useless condition, when it is remembered that A. Morrison, Esq., has presented the land for the site, and has, in addition, supplemented every subscription by double the amount, as he promised to do. In a short time therefore, we hope to be able to announce that the church is completed and opened for public worship, but we would again remind all who took an interest in the erection of the church, that the building must be roofed without delay”.

For reasons not known the church was never completed. The ruined building remained visible for many years. The ruins are mentioned in Walch's Tasmanian Guide Book a decade after construction had begun:

“…The shell of a church built of stone, which has been left unfinished for so many years that it would be an act of grace to plant ivy round it, and so give it some of the beauty as well as the desolate aspect of a ruin, which it already possesses….”.

A visitor to the Runnymede district in 1911 noted that the stone walls of the church had only “recently razed for building material”.

While the Runnymede church lay abandoned, religious services were held in the State schoolroom which was built in 1900. Although the school was to be closed for lengthy periods of time it continued to be used as a place of worship until the building was removed to Bicheno in 1941. The building’s removal was opposed by Runnymede residents and the action was described as “a bombshell to the people of the district..[as]..it served as a church and for election purposes”.

The site of the Runnymede Church on the Tasman Highway. Fragments of stone are still on the site. 


Askin Morrison, who donated land for the church. Libraries Tasmania - Item Number: PH30-1-4206



Sources:

Hobart Town Advertiser, Saturday 19 May 1860, page 3
Hobart Town Advertiser, Thursday 28 June 1860, page 3
Hobart Town Daily Mercury, Friday 29 June 1860, page 2
Mercury, Wednesday 5 December 1900, page 5
Mercury, Friday 17 February 1911, page 2
Mercury, Thursday 23 October 1941, page 5

J. Walch and Sons. Walch's Tasmanian guide book : a handbook of information for all parts of the colony J. Walch and Sons Hobart Town, Tas. 1871 

Askin Morrison- Australian Dictionary of Biography: https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/morrison-askin-4255


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