No. 1471 - New Norfolk - Wooden Chapel at "The New Norfolk Hospital for the Insane" (c.1900)

It is not my intention to delve into the complex history of New Norfolk’s ‘mental institutions’ but a brief outline is necessary for some context with regard to places of worship established at the institution. There are five distinct phases in the history of the 'hospital':

The New Norfolk Lunatic Asylum (1829-1859)
The New Norfolk Hospital for the Insane (1859-1915)
The New Norfolk Mental Diseases Hospital (1915-1937)
Lachlan Park Hospital (1937-1968)
Royal Derwent Hospital (1968-2001)

Before the 20th century religion and worship had a minor role in the institution. However it is interesting that plans for the original asylum included a chapel (see illustration below). The intention was that the asylum was to house the colonies 'invalid convicts' and as well as convicts classed as ‘lunatics’. The provision of a chapel was in keeping with the belief that religion was a critical part of the process of a convict's moral improvement. However, as the convict ‘invalid hospital’ developed as a ‘lunatic asylum’ this became redundant and the planned chapel was never built.

During the era of the ‘Hospital for the Insane’ (1859-1915) religious services were held. By this time the hospital accommodated ‘paying patients’ who were housed in separate facilities. A dining hall served as a concert room and chapel. By the turn of the 20th century a purpose built wooden chapel was constructed although it seems that this was not used for long. The building was later converted for use as a school room for young patients and was also used as an occupational therapy building.

The old wooden chapel has survived and until recently it was the premises of the “Patchwork Cafe” in the historical Willow’s Court complex.

The old wooden chapel - source LINC Tasmania - (courtesy of Historical Information Centre, New Norfolk)

The chapel housed the Patchwork Cafe until 2021.

The Chapel at its original site. Source: Libraries Tasmania PH30-1-5093

Libraries Tasmania PH30-1-5093

Part of a plan of the chapel proposed in 1829 but never built.  Source: Libraries Tasmania - PWD266-1-1432-2



Colonial Times, Tuesday 29 April 1845, page 3
Mercury, Wednesday 27 May 1885, page 3
Mercury, Thursday 2 February 1888, page 4
Mercury, Monday 22 April 1940, page 6
Huon and Derwent Times, Thursday 25 April 1940, page 6



Popular posts from this blog

Welcome to Churches of Tasmania

No. 624 - Dunalley - St Martin's Anglican Church - "In grateful memory of the men who fought in the Great War"

No. 592 - Gretna - St Mary the Virgin - "Worthy of Imitation"