No. 1412 - Pelham - Anglican Church (c.1914-1945)

Pelham is a rural district about 7 kilometres west of Elderslie. It is on the Pelham Road which was used as a coach road linking Brighton, Broadmarsh and Hamilton.

Little is known about Pelham’s Anglican church. Dorothea Henslowe’s compendium of Anglican churches in Tasmania only notes that the Pelham church “was burnt down years ago and not replaced”.

While I have been unable to find out when the church was formally established, the earliest reference to the Anglican community is found in a report in the Mercury in August 1901:

“A very enjoyable concert was given by the Bloomfield Minstrels, in the Barn at Bloomfield, very kindly lent by Mr. C. F. Parsons, in order to purchase an organ for the Pelham Church. People came from all parts of the district, and there was a bumper attendance, fully 150 being present. The building was beautifully decorated with ferns and flags….The sum of £11 was collected and there will be a handsome balance to hand over to the organ fund”.

It is very likely that the church building was in fact the old Maryborough School, which was a private building. This was replaced by a new school in 1914. A report in 1913 states that the building was:

“…Unsuitable for a school There was a spring at the back of the building, which was on the shady side, and frost and snow lay there all day long in the winter time …”.

Little else is known about the church aside from its destruction in bushfires in December 1945. The Mercury reported:

“Bushfires in the Pelham area, part of the Hollow Tree district, on Boxing Day menaced homes and buildings. A house occupied by Mr Patrick Hanlon, an elderly resident of Pelham was destroyed. The Anglican church, which formed part of the Macquarie Plains parish, was destroyed after an unsuccessful attempt had been made to save some of the contents. The building was formerly known as Maryborough School. The building was insured for £100”.

While the church was not replaced, services continued to be held in the Pelham State school. In February 1946 the Mercury reported:

“Because of the destruction of the Anglican church at Pelham, which formed part of the Macquarie Plains Church of England parish, arrangements have been made with Education Dept. to conduct services in the Pelham school. The church was lost in bush fires which swept through the district at Christmas. The entire contents, including the organ, were burnt”.

The date of the church’s last service at the Pelham school is not known. The photograph used in this article is the Pelham State school. I have not yet found a photograph of the old Maryborough School and church.

Pelham State School. Services were held in the school after the Pelham church (previously the Maryborough School), burnt down in 1945. Photograph - Libraries Tasmania


The Mercury, Tuesday 20 August 1901, page 3
The Mercury, Wednesday 9 July 1913, page 4
The Mercury, Saturday 29 December 1945, page 2
The Mercury, Saturday 16 February 1946, page 7

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


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