No. 1468 - Deviot - Deviot Hall - Anglican Church (1922-1965)

This article is one in a series about public buildings in country areas that were used as places of worship. In these communities churches may have been planned but were never built due to lack of finance or changing circumstances. In many settlements, before a church was built, worship was typically held in homes, schoolrooms, barns, halls and other buildings. Conversely, in some communities, churches were sometimes the first public building erected and were used as schools and community halls. The focus of this series will primarily be on the public halls and schools that were used as churches. These buildings, and the religious communities which used them, are often overlooked in published histories of churches.

Deviot is located on the west bank of the River Tamar and lies about 35 kilometres north-west of Launceston. The area was developed for orcharding after the turn of the 20th century by William Gunning Baird and John Sydney Ritchie. The Deviot Public Hall, which opened in 1922, served as an Anglican church for more than 40 years.

The origins of the hall date to 1911 when Baird and Richie donated land for tennis court and hall on the Deviot esplanade. In December 1911 the Launceston Examiner reported:

“A very well laid down asphalt court has been built on the esplanade…Now a move is being made to raise funds to build a hall for library and concert purposes”.

By 1919 the initial idea of a community hall had evolved to a building that could also serve as a church and public school. Fundraising for the hall was led by Edith Baird, resident of Deviot House and local postmistress. In January 1920 the Daily Mail reported:

“Progressiveness has always characterised the people of Deviot district, and any undertaking by them is always crowned with success. Their work during the war period on behalf of the Red Cross funds was of a high order, due to the energy displayed by the ladies' committee. The great war having happily ended, the residents of Deviot thought it was time a little more was done for the district. A hall for public purposes, including school and divine services, is badly needed at Deviot, and some time ago it was decided to make a start to raise funds for the purpose of erecting a building….Last winter a commencement was made to raise funds by holding socials, these were interfered with by the influenza restrictions, but still a few pounds were obtained, and it was also decided to hold an annual fair until the building be came an accomplished fact”.

In 1921 construction of the hall began with the tender being awarded to Mr. R.J. Green of Launceston. The opening of the hall was delayed until Saturday 21 January 1922 due to the building not “being passed by the health authorities”.

After the hall opened it was used by the Methodists until about 1926. The Anglicans also used the hall from this time but it was not until 1929 that regular Anglican services were held. Thereafter the Anglican community were established for a period of a little over 40 years. There are numerous reports about Deviot’s Anglican community in this period, a few of which are reproduced as follows:

In September 1933 the Examiner reported:

“On Sunday last Rev. E.N. Gidley…held [a] service in the Deviot Hall. During the service a very handsome blackwood collecting plate was dedicated to the memory of the late Mr. Leonard Hesketh. The plate was presented by Miss Zillah Hesketh, and the work was executed by Mr. John Hesketh (Launceston). At a subsequent meeting of the congregation, Mr. W. Hesketh was appointed churchwarden”.

In 1938 the Examiner reported:

“New furnishings to be used at the Church of England were used for the first time last Sunday morning at Holy communion conducted by Rev. R.B. Cranswick. A communion table, made by Mr. W. Brooker and the gift of Mrs. Brooker, was admired. The table cloth, donated by Mrs. E.B. Davis and Miss Rita Davis, was worked by Mrs. A.M. Miller. A frontal and reredos were provided for out of funds. A brass cross was given by Mrs Hesketh and Miss Zillah Hesketh. A new kneeler was also donated”.

In 1941 an organ was donated to the church. The Examiner reported:

“The gift of an organ has been received from the Cullenswood Church of England. The organ was used for the first time on Sunday afternoon conducted by the Venerable Archdeacon Atkinson. Mr Ken Field (Devonport) presided at the organ…”.

In 1947 a memorial plaque dedicated to Leading Seaman Sidney Rowley was unveiled:

“There was a large congregation at the Church of England Easter service in the Deviot Hall. The hall had been beautifully decorated by Mrs A.E. Miller and Miss Zillah Hesketh. A special feature of the service was the unveiling of a tablet by the rector (Rev. C.V. Doig) to the memory of the late Leading Seaman Sidney Charles Rowley, who was killed in action on H.M.A.S. Australia on January 6, 1945…”.

Charles, the only son of Mr and Mrs Charles Rowley, was born in Birmingham, England, on 9 February 1919. He joined the Royal Australian Navy 1940. In January 1945 H.M.A.S. Australia saw action in the Lingayen Gulf covering the allied invasion of Luzon Island. Here she was subjected to repeated attacks by Kamikaze pilots. Rowley was lost at sea after the ship was hit over a number of days with the loss of 44 servicemen.

When I photographed the hall the building was closed and I could not see if the memorial tablet is still on display. The church furnishings are obviously gone but they were probably housed behind a permanent partition when the hall functioned as a full-time church.

The Devoit Hall was used by the Anglicans until 1965. The date of the last service is not known.

Deviot Hall (2024)

Deviot Hall (2024)

Clipping posted on Deviot Community Association Facebook page. Source not indicated.

Leading Seaman Sidney Charles Rowley (The Examiner)


Examiner, Friday 15 December 1911, page 2
Examiner, Saturday 15 November 1919, page 8
Daily Telegraph, Monday 19 January 1920, page 6
Examiner, Monday 24 January 1921, page 7
Examiner, Tuesday 29 November 1921, page 6
Daily Telegraph, Saturday 14 January 1922, page 2
Examiner, Tuesday 26 April 1927, page 3
Examiner, Tuesday 24 April 1928, page 2
Examiner, Monday 14 June 1929, page 5
Examiner, Wednesday 17 July 1929, page 7
Examiner, Wednesday 13 September 1933, page 5
Examiner, Wednesday 14 December 1938, page 4
Examiner, 2 December 1941, page 5
Examiner, Tuesday 23 January 1945, page 4
Examiner, Tuesday 8 April 1947, page 6
Tamar Times, Thursday 14 December 1995

Register of Services at Deviot Church; Records of the Anglican Parish of Beaconsfield (NS572); Item Number  NS572/1/97. Tasmanian State Archive

Nyman, Lois. The West Tamar people : the story of the early settlement and its well-established families / by Lois Nyman Regal Publications Launceston, Tas. 1996

Virtual War Memorial Australia -


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