Our History | Window on our sacred past

In St John’s Church Launceston is the oldest, existing ‘stained glass’ window in Tasmania, and possibly the first erected.

The window, depicting the ‘Resurrection’, was made in England by John Pike Hedgeland, a London architect.

The window is described as a 'transparency' – this being a less expensive method ‘to paint on white glass with transparent coloured enamels’.

The window was purchased in 1837 by the Reverend Dr William Henry Browne of St John’s and installed as an east window in the small convict-built church.

On December 23, 1837 Dr Browne wrote in his journal that he “had a transparency put up at my own expense in the chancel window of our church”.

In the latter half of 1841 Browne dedicated this window to the memory of his great friend and mentor, the Reverend William Hutchins, of Hobart, Archdeacon of Van Diemen’s Land who died in June of that year.

The son of a clergyman, William Hutchins was born in November 1792 at Ainsley, Warwickshire, England.

He entered Pembroke College, Cambridge, graduating in 1815, and was ordained into the Church of England shortly afterwards.

Arriving in Hobart in January 1837, he was appointed Archdeacon of Van Diemen's Land in the Diocese of Australia.

Archdeacon Hutchins was a strong leader in the movement to establish higher education in the colony. In Launceston and Hobart meetings were held and subscriptions opened to establish schools in these centres.

The Launceston Church Grammar School opened in June 1846. Two months later the Hutchins School in Hobart opened as a living memorial to the Archdeacon.

The Hutchins memorial window in St John’s Launceston has been positioned in the church in three different places. It was first an east window until, in the early 1860s it was removed to make way for a small chancel where it was placed in the north wall.

At the beginning of the 20th century this window was moved again and stored for several years while a large extension was added to the church. This was consecrated in December 1911.

The architect at this time was Alexander North who designed a pair of vesica window spaces just below the massive dome.

The Hutchins memorial window was placed in the one on the left, its third and present home.

The window is unique, being the only one of its kind, a ‘transparency’, in the state and its survival over 180 years also makes it special.

The Hutchins name continues to live on in new generations of students attending the two schools.