Two Anglican churches dedicated to Saint Peter have stood on the same site at St Leonards since 1847.
The first church building opened for services on April 18, 1847.
A section of an estate named Mount Esk had been set aside for a church some time before and it was through the efforts of the local settlers at the time that a church was erected.
Services of all kinds were conducted in the district by the Reverend Dr William Henry Browne of St John’s Church during the 1830s and 1840s.
A new settler to Launceston arrived in the early 1840s. Henry Plow Kane, M.A., (Cantab.) came with his father and family and took a position as tutor to the family of William Barnes of Trevallyn in 1845.
In July the next year Kane, aged just 21 years, was ordained Deacon of the Church of England and was appointed the first Headmaster of the Launceston Church Grammar School, then in a temporary premises in George Street, Launceston.
He was also appointed to the Missionary Chaplaincy to the region of Paterson’s Plains, (St Leonards), Allanvale and Newnham with a salary of £50.
In 1847 Kane was ordained a Priest of the Church of England by Bishop Nixon, Tasmania’s first Bishop.
Henry Kane was a highly educated young man – a Greek and Hebrew scholar, spoke French and Italian fluently, had wide literary tastes and was an accomplished artist.
Little is known of his artistic work, but a watercolour of the first church of St Peter once hanging in the present church was reframed in 1956 by a grateful marriage couple.
The watercolour was a significant art piece and possibly the only one by the Reverend Kane, and its historical significance flowed over to the Launceston Church Grammar School.
Some years later the painting was moved to the parish rectory but has since disappeared.
After his years at the grammar school the Reverend Kane opened a small school for ‘young gentlemen’ at Rostella on the East Tamar.
In February 1867 at a parish meeting it was resolved that a new church be erected near the present building. Some of the materials of the old church were used in the construction of the new edifice.
The new St Peter’s Church was consecrated on May 13, 1869 by the second Bishop of Tasmania, the Right Reverend CF Bromby.
Having known the ‘grateful marriage couple’ mentioned, the writer and others, would be overjoyed if the watercolour was to reappear and again enter Launceston’s art, heritage and educational world.