Churches are more than the bricks and mortar buildings, but the faces of the people who spent their lives within these sacred places.
Launceston historian Duncan Grant is compiling a history of all the churches in Tasmania and has started a blog for those who wish to follow on.
He will be speaking at the Launceston Historical Society on July 21 and has shared the stories of his top nine favourite Northern Tasmanian small churches.
You can follow his work at Churches of Tasmania.
1. The story of violence and intimidation which was commonplace in the early years of the Salvation Army in Launceston:
The Salvation Army arrived in Launceston in 1883. The local reaction to the enthusiastic 'Salvationists' was a mixture of bemusement, resentment, intolerance and at times violence.
The local press fuelled hostility and prejudice but within a decade the Salvation Army had become an accepted part of Launceston's religious landscape.
In 1885, the Salvation Army was able to build a meeting place of their own with the purchase of land at a site on Elizabeth Street. The growing acceptance of the 'Army' is evident with Launceston's Mayor, Henry Button, invited to lay one of two foundation stones in the presence of 2000 onlookers.
Although the Salvation Army continued to experience harassment for the next decade or two, it became part of the Launceston's religious establishment and 'citadels' were open in Invermay and at Galvin Street in South Launceston.
The Salvation Army still occupies its original site on Elizabeth Street although the "barracks" have long gone. The sleek and respectable modern building which occupies the site gives no hint of the early troubled years when the 'Army' first arrived in Launceston.
2. The story of religion and reform in the penal system at Launceston's Female Factory
Launceston's Female Factory opened in November 1834, replacing a female factory at George Town.
It operated as a female factory until 1855 when it was converted into a jail.
The prison operated until 1914 when it was demolished to make way for the construction of Launceston High School (now Launceston College).
The lives of women were regulated by authority, work, surveillance and religion. The women classified into three 'classes' of inmate; punishment, crime and hiring classes.
After serving six months in the 'crime class', approved prisoners became 'pass holders' and could work for wages outside the factory.
The three classes were separated to avoid "contamination" and this was dictated down to the level of separation in worship.
While very little is known about Launceston Female Factory's chapel, and no image of it exists apart from the architect's plans reproduced below; the chapel nevertheless has an important place in the history of Tasmania's churches as it represents a fundamental aspect of the place of religion in the reform of prisoners.
3. The Baptists work among the poor at Inveresk
The story of the the Baptist Mission at Inveresk is intimately connected to the life of the remarkable Sister Mary Lamb.
In 1912 Launceston's Baptist Tabernacle on Cimitiere Street established a Christian Mission Hall at Inveresk with the aim of evangelising to the poor through charitable mission work.
Christian missionary work at Inveresk was driven by Sister Mary Ann Lamb, whose name became synonymous with the Mission.
The Examiner reported her work at the time as:
The school has a roll of some 80 scholars. The Sunday evening congregation fills the building. A week-night service is also held, and in most cases takes the form of "Gospel temperance." The attendance at this is satisfactory. The sewing class, started on the first Thursday afternoon with 16 girls, has increased to 40. The girls make garments for them selves, or some member of the family...The Baptists of Launceston are to be congratulated on the liberal spirit displayed in thus giving their sister to this work, and while to them their loss will be great in this direction, their higher gain will be greater.
Months after the hall's opening a fatal blow struck the mission. As the Spanish flu pandemic swept though Launceston in the winter of 1919, Sister Mary Lamb was caught up as one of its victims.
Her sudden death at the age 58 was a shock to the community and was to significantly impact on the work of the mission.
4. Religion and education - the short-lived Brisbane Street Sunday school and Union Church.
The Brisbane Street 'Union Chapel', was built in 1865 as a Sunday School and a place of worship for the indigent children of Launceston.
Although it was a short-lived experiment, its history is an aspect of the largely untold story of the Launceston's underclass and the role of religious philanthropists in fighting poverty.
As an educational institution, Sunday schools' were first formally established in England in the 1780s in order to provide education to children from the impoverished classes.
In Tasmania Sunday schools were controlled by various denominations with the purpose of providing religious and general education to the faithful.
The Hobart based Sunday School Union of Van Dieman's Land, which was founded in 1841, was established to support Sunday schools run by the nonconformist churches.
Following the establishment of the Sunday School Union in Hobart, Launceston followed suit and after a meeting held in St. John's Square Schoolroom on 17 June 1847, the 'Launceston Sunday School Union' was formed.
For reasons not known, the Launceston Sunday School Union ceased operating and it was not until August 1863 that a new union, the Northern Tasmanian Sunday School Union, was established.
For all the Northern Tasmanian Sunday School Union's good intentions, it seems that it was unable to finance and support "ragged industrial and feeding schools" on a sustainable basis.
Indeed, the Brisbane Street Sunday school floundered within five years of opening.
5. Religion on Launceston's waterfront - mission to the sailors who frequented Launceston's wharfs
In the 21st century Launceston's waterfront is a tourist precinct and little remains of what was once the most important commercial port in Tasmania.
By the mid 19th century Launceston was already a bustling port town. The subsequent mining boom and development of the railway system effectively made Launceston the commercial capital of the island until the end of the 19th century.
The development of the town's port and the accompanying increase in the numbers of sailors and wharf side workers gave rise to a public movement to provide a place of worship for itinerant seafarers. Hobart and Sydney already had established chapels for mariners.
In 1845 The Examiner reported on progress made in establishing a chapel at the town's wharfs.
By the end of 1945 a committee had been established to build a seamen's chapel. Members of the committee included Reverend Dowling, West and Price.
Tenders for the erection of a 'Bethel chapel' were advertised in May 1846. Consequently, the chapel opened debt free on Sunday 14 February 1847.
The chapel went on to hold regular services for seaman for about 20 years and was eventually demolished in 1878.
From the start, its location at a busy wharf in a less salubrious part of town effected its operation and no doubt contributed to is decline and eventual closure.
6. Henry Reed's little known chapel at Mole Creek
Henry Reed was one of Tasmania's leading businessmen, bankers and philanthropists. He was also an ardent evangelist who made a significant contribution to the Christian cause in Australia and in Britain.
Reed had a deep religious experience in the early 1830's when a small boat he was rowing overturned on the Tamar River and he almost drowned. Once ashore, he knelt down to give thanks for his deliverance. This incident had an enormous influence on his religious life.
In 1873, Reed returned to Tasmania settling at Mount Pleasant in Launceston, one of the finest houses in northern Tasmania. He also developed Mountain Villa at Wesley Dale which was completed in 1875 and built a chapel.
Reed's return to Wesley Dale was reported by the Cornwall Chronicle in January 1874. The report reveal's Reed's deep religious convictions and his evangelising in the area:
"On Thursday last great excitement was felt by the residents of Chudleigh and its neighbourhood as it became known that Henry Reed, Esq. the proprietor of large estates in this and other portions of the colony, was on that day about paying us a visit, and had signified his intention to hold service in the chapel on his estate of Wesley-dale, which he has not visited for upwards of 26 years."
With the passage of time, the Mountain Villa chapel ceased being used and fell into a ruinous state. The photographs taken by Danny Beer in 2010, before the chapel's restoration, reflect the 'bare and cold' appearance described by Theophilus Jones.
Although the building would have been used by Henry Reed for only a few years before his death, it is perhaps the most fitting memorial to his last years at Mountain Villa.
7. Sometimes small wooden churches were blown down in storms
Wesleyan Methodist activity began in the Leven River area in that late 1850's at a house at Gravel Hill (about 2km from the centre of Ulverstone).
By the 1860's Reverend Cooke and Reverend Edward Nye were conducting services in a building known as 'Rats Castle' on a farm on the outskirts of Ulverstone owned by Samuel Tongs.
It was a very rough building which had had its partitions knocked out to create a space for the congregation.
Planning for the church began in July 1880 and by the 17th October a weatherboard building was opened for service.
On Wednesday 17 May 1893, the church was flattened by a cyclone which struck Ulverstone at 4pm. Apart from destroying the church, the storm caused considerable damage in the town.
8. A chapel built from a toilet block at Ashley Detention Centre
In 1922, the Ashley Boys' Home was established outside Deloraine on a government owned farm. In the 1960's a chapel was constructed out of an old toilet block with the help of the boys.
The chapel was 'dedicated' as St Christopher's by Donald Blackburn, a retired Anglican minister of St Mark's parish and former Bishop of Gippsland, and Father Sherry of Holy Redeemer parish in Deloraine.
An interesting feature of the chapel was a cross and two candlesticks carved by soldiers at Gallipoli. These items were donated by Bishop Blackwood. Between 1912 and 1920 Blackwood served a chaplain in the Australian Armed Forces and received the Military Cross at Villers-Bretonneux after giving up his gas mask to a wounded soldier.
The government demolished the chapel when the Ashley Home for boys was converted into the Ashley Youth Detention Centre in 1999. Unfortunately, the cross and candlesticks as well as a painting of St Christopher by Mary Jolliffe, went missing during the redevelopment.
9. Old Holy Trinity church pulled down exacerbated by the Launceston earthquake of 1884
Launceston's second Anglican church, Holy Trinity Church, opened in 1842. However the magnificent Holy Trinity Church which now stands in Cameron Street, replaced the original building that was pulled down in 1902.
The church was opened for its first service on December 26 (Boxing Day), 1842. The Rev. W. L. Gibbon preached in the morning, and the Rev. W. Wilkinson in the evening.
Two decades after its opening it became apparent that Holy Trinity had significant structural problems.
The earthquake of 1884 may have also contributed to the church's instability. But in spite of the issue of structural problems, a significant amount was invested in the church over the years.
The last service in the old Holy Trinity took place on 30 November 1902, a few weeks short of the 60th anniversary of its opening.
The new Holy Trinity Church, although unfinished, was consecrated on 4 December 1902, a few days after the last service in the old church.
The only tangible reminder of the old building is the large garden space at the west entrance of the new church.
- Duncan Grant will host a talk on his research focusing on small churches in Northern Tasmania at QVMAG on July 21 at 2pm.