No. 1453 - Sandy Bay - St Stephen's Hall

This article is one of a series about buildings associated with Tasmania’s historical churches.These buildings include Sunday schools, parish halls, convents, schools and residences of the clergy. Ancillary buildings are often overlooked and rarely feature in published histories. My aim is to create a simple record of these buildings, including of those that no longer exist.

Sandy Bay is a southern suburb of Hobart. It is believed that it was named by Reverend Robert Knopwood while he was out on the Derwent on a whaling boat. The northern half of Sandy Bay was known as Queenborough between the years 1859 and 1878. St Stephen’s Anglican church is located in Lower Sandy Bay.

In 1896 St Stephen’s was built to replace the old “Red Chapel” which had opened as a ‘union church’ in 1858. In 1917 a parish hall and Sunday school was built alongside the new church. The foundation stone was laid by the Dean of Hobart and officially opened in May 1917. The Mercury reported:

“Yesterday afternoon, at Lower Sandy Bay, the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone of (the new Sunday-school in connection with St. Stephen's Church, which is a branch church of the large parish of St George's, took place before a moderate attendance, which would doubtless have been much larger if the weather had been less inclement. In the absence of the Bishop, unfortunately laid aside through illness, Rev. Hay officiated. The building will also act as a parish hall. When completed, it will have cost about £425. Of this sum the late Miss Emma Mills, under her testamentary bequest contributed £200, and the rest was raised by efforts in the district. The contractors for the building are Messrs. Gillham Bros., and the architects Messrs. Walker and Johnston. The usual solemn dedicatory services were rendered and the Dean duly, laid the foundation-stone with a silver trowel designed and presented to him by the architect (Mr. Walker)”.

In 1960 a major redevelopment of St Stephens hall was proposed, with plans drawn by architect Harry Oldmeadow for replacement of the original hall. The plan envisaged linking the hall to the church by a cloister with a Sunday school and vestry located on the northern portion of the site.

Whilst scheme was never realised, in 1961 the existing hall was demolished to foundation level and a new superstructure and rear extension erected. The Federation style hall was replaced by a post-war modernist red brick building.

The church and hall were sold in 2022 and are now privately owned. The church’s rare beachfront site contributed to a record sale price of $4.5 million. The hall has since been converted into a house.

A partial photograph of the original hall (1956). A photograph showing the entire building has yet to be located. source: Heritage Tasmania 

A partial image of the original Federation style hall in 1927 (The Mercury)

Memorial plaque in St Stephen's Hall

The hall in 2022 - courtesy Frank Knight Real Estate

The 1961 hall and church (2022)  source: The Mercury


The Mercury, Thursday 21 December 1916, page 6. 
The Mercury, Wednesday 24 August 1927, page 3

Stephens, G. 1991 The Anglican Church in Tasmania: A Diocesan History to Mark the Sesquicentenary: 1992, The Print Centre.


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