Like its better known neighbour, Oatlands, the main road of Jericho contains many fine examples of early colonial sandstone architecture, and constructions including examples of convict cut culverts, bridges and walls, many of which date from the 1830s. The main Anglican church, St James (built in 1888 contains the grave of Trooper John Hutton Bisdee, who was the first Tasmanian to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
The town flourished for a time in the nineteenth century as a stage coach resting post, but declined in the twentieth century. Now bypassed by the Midland Highway, the state's main north-south highway, it is a sleepy village that retains its colonial charm and is part of Tasmania's Heritage Highway.
St James Anglican Church
Four years before the settlement of Oatlands began, the first recorded religious service was held at Jericho, on the 23 February 1823. It was conducted by the Reverend Samuel Marsden from N.S.W. in the home of Mr. Thomas Gregson, “Northumbria”, Jericho.
The movement for the erection of a church at Jericho began in 1827. Up until this time, the district was being supplied by William Pike, a catechist, who lived at “Park Farm”, Jericho. However it wasn’t until 1838 that a church was built and it was consecrated by Bishop William Grant Broughton on Tuesday 10 May 1838.
Fifty years later, cracks appeared in the building, and it was decided to erect another building on the same site. On the 29th April 1888 the new church, St James’ Church, Jericho was consecrated by Bishop Sandford.
As a dominant township element, St. James’ is of great significance to Jericho. Architectural fittings and furnishings bear dedications to prominent early members of the district, including Thomas Gregson who was Premier of Tasmania in 1857, and who’s property “Northumbria” borders the church. St. James’ is listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register for its community values and its ability to represent a modest sandstone Victorian Gothic Church. The building was designed by the well know architect, Henry Hunter, who was responsible for many fine buildings around Tasmania. Walter Fish was responsible for the stonework and the woodwork was carried out by Charles Ellen, both of Oatlands.
The stained-glass windows were added over time and are some of the best examples of Australia’s glass artists, including John Lamb Lyons (Sydney), George Dancey, William Kerr-Morgan, Brooks Robinson (renowned for the strength of his workmanship) and perhaps the most important window which was the last window that William Montgomery crafted. The beautiful window at the rear of the church, “Crucifixion” was executed by Augustus Fischer of Melbourne. His windows are rare and his work was renowned for his treatment of flowers. The wall treatment and stenciling are rare and beautiful.
It is also thought that St. James Church was the first church in the southern hemisphere to have conducted an Ecumenical Service.
The churchyard includes an Avenue of Honour, a row of pine trees dedicated to local men (and one woman) who served in W.W.1.
St. James’ is a family church of the Bisdees, a prominent pastoral family of the district who owned Sandhill Homestead at one stage. They took an active part in the welfare of the church and it’s people. John Hutton Bisdee was the first Australian-born Victoria Cross recipient, and is buried in the cemetery. Bisdee was awarded the V.C. in 1900 for bravery in the Transvaal War, following which he returned to Tasmania to the family farm, and later served in W.W.1. He passed away on his property in 1930. The two Bisdee family plots are a dominant feature of the cemetery when approaching the doors of St. James’.