At Franklin Village just south of Launceston stands the beautiful little ‘Village Chapel’ which has a most interesting history.
The area has been known as Franklin Village since 1837.
The chapel was built in 1844-45 at the request of Mrs Martha Hawkes, on an acre of land being a portion of a grant to former convict Britton Jones who earlier built the house opposite.
Originally known as The Hollies in 1888, since 1960 the home has been owned by the National Trust and now bears the name Franklin House.
William Keeler Hawkes ran his Classical and Commercial School at the house from 1842 until 1866. The young boys at Mr Hawkes’ Academy attended Sunday School and service every Sunday.
In October 1844 the chapel’s foundation stone was laid. The community raised the funds and the church was built by government convicts.
The building was completed in six months and the Bishop of Tasmania, the Right Reverend Francis Russell Nixon opened the Village Chapel as a place of worship. The burial ground was consecrated at this time.
Being on the main road to Hobart the chapel became a gathering place for social and religious services for the growing farming district and since those early days, it has developed into a place of distinction and honour.
Many men and women of the district who served in World War I are named on an Honour Roll.
The altar, prayer desk and lectern are of blackwood carved by Hugh Cunningham and the altar rail (Nel Gardner memorial) and the Bishop’s Chair (Richard Hughes memorial) were carved by Gordon Cumming.
Both gentlemen are known for their beautiful work in other sacred spaces.
Two stained-glass windows (Grubb memorials) light the chancel area.
Behind the chapel is the burial ground wherein lie many worthy people noted for their community endeavour.
Theodore Bryant Bartley was one who was granted land near the village which he named Kerry Lodge.
He was a leader in business, agriculture and community affairs. In the 1820s Bartley was the first churchwarden of St John’s, Launceston.
He and his wife and several of their large family were buried in the chapel grounds.
It was not until 1926 that the little Village Chapel was consecrated and dedicated in the name of the Apostle as St James’ Church.
The village, the house and the church are today a very popular centre on the tourist trail.
Although the church is not used very often, plots in the burial ground are still reserved for family members.