Monday, 8 April 2013

St John The Baptist Church, Buckland


The importance of St John the Baptist Church is partly its age - it was built in 1846 to a design by architect Crawford Cripps Wegman of Sussex, England - and its East Window. There has been much speculation about the age of the East Window with some people claiming that it was originally designed for Battle Abbey in England, a church which dates from 1094. The church building was commenced in 1846 after the local population complained to secular authorities in Hobart about the lack of any clergy to service the growing settlement of Prosser Plains. Local businessmen had pledged to select a suitable plot of land for the purpose of erecting a temporary place of worship. This became the St Georges church which is believed to have been located at the old churchyard on the opposite side of the road to the current property and was completed in 1828,

In 1840, the congregation received a grant of 25 pounds towards the erection of a new church. It wasn’t until March 1846 that the first Chaplain, Rev F.H.Cox arrived in the region to take up his chaplaincy and commence works on the new church.

By now the settlement had been renamed Buckland by the then Governor, Sir John Franklin, who named the settlement after the famed geologist, Dean Buckland. From March till October 1846, Rev Cox conducted his services at the local Police Magistrates office while the church was being constructed. The foundation stone was laid on 12th August 1846. Records of those earlier days give no account of the progress of construction of the church or as to whether it was built by free settlers or convicts. However, it is known that the church was a replica of a parish church in England, namely Cookham Dean in the Rev Cox’s native county of Sussex. Rev Cox also bought with him a stained glass window which was installed in the new church. The window itself seems to have a very storied past!

The story is that before the famous Battle of Hastings, which was actually fought at Battle in Sussex, William the Conqueror vowed that if he won he would build an abbey to commemorate his victory. Legend has it that he built the Abbey where the English King Harold II had fallen. The abbey was destroyed during the Reformation by troops loyal to Oliver Cromwell in the early 1600s. The main stained glass window from the abbey seems to have fallen into the hands of the Cecil family who had close connections with the district.
Experts believe the window in St John the Baptist Church was created sometime in the fourteenth century (some 300 years after the Battle of Hastings). The mystery of the window probably started because it is accepted that the Reverend F. H. Cox brought it to Australia when he emigrated from Sussex. One account has Lord Robert Cecil, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, giving the window to Cox before he departed from England. Whatever the story it is still remarkable to see a fourteenth century church window in a church which wasn't built until 1846.

June 18th 1848 saw the very first service held in the new church building and on Jan 15th the following year, the Bishop of Hobart, Bishop Nixon arrived to officially consecrate the new church. The stone walls surrounding the churchyard were added at a later date. It was estimated that the cost of erecting the church, exclusive of interior ornamental features was about 900 pounds, half of which was contributed from public funds and the other half from contributions from neighborhood parishioners. 

The church is active to this day and is in amazing condition considering its age. It plays an active part in the local community and is easily visible in a prominent part of Buckland as you pass through on the Tasman Highway. The church has easy access inside where you can view the magnificent interior and view the majestic stained glass window. Historical information booklets and cards can be purchased in the church by placing your donation in the box supplied. (Honesty System applies). A beautiful little colonial church with is storied stained glass window. Well worth a visit as you pass through Buckland.


## Text & Information for this post from the booklet printed by the Parish of Buckland##
“Church of St. John the Baptist – History of Church and Window”


10 comments:

  1. Hi Geoff,

    Thanks for providing such detailed information about Tasmania historic sites! Just wondering have you ever heard of the St Augustine Church in Longford.
    Me and my friends are a group of International students from UTAS Faculty of Architecture and are currently doing the measured drawing for this church.We also have to discuss how have related contemporary principles of architecture and design been translated in the architecture, interiors and/or fittings of the select building. We visited the site and I find that it is quite similar to the St John Baptist Church which you had written about, in scale as well as the interior trusses and layout. However, according to the person in charge, he assumed that no one had actually documented that church before and thus we have scarce resource.We felt a little bit lost as we are foreign and there is so much to see and learn about Tassie! Based on your personal experience, how would you identify the architecture style of a building from its appearance? Would you recommend any books or sources for research?

    Any suggestion will be much more appreciated! Thanks in advance and have a nice day. :)

    Regards,

    Ying (yingxin_0125@hotmail.com)


    (Link to the St Augustine Church is as attached)
    http://www.heritagehighway.com.au/o/towns_and_history/longford/attractions_in_longford/st_augustines_church#.U_AnBvmSx8E



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  2. I have a ring which came from my grandfather said to have bee bought from the effects of Revd Power Mountney, a friend of my Grandpa's in Icklesham Sussex and inscribed "Clifford W Power, incumbent Buckland Tasmania April 1873-June 1882" It is battered and hard to read. Do these names mean anything to anyone in Buckland today?
    Judith Bennett Dorset England

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    1. Hi Judith,
      Thank you for your message. I'm not familiar with the name (Then I dont live in Buckland.) Just guessing but maybe Clifford W Power was involved with the church, maybe a minister. You could contact the parish with your information and they may be able to help you more. You can contact the parish via this link - http://parishofbuckland.webs.com/contactus.htm

      Kind Regards
      Geoff

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  3. I've just come back from Tasmania and visiting the wonderful Church at Buckland. Your photo's do it justice... the windows are amazing and the central one was awesome. Plus it is the only Anglican Church (or any other Church) where I have seen the "Star of David" painted on the walls.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. It certainly is a beautiful church and so magnificently preserved.

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    2. Thank you for your kind words. It certainly is a beautiful church and so magnificently preserved.

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  4. My cousin Marilyn and I were very impressed at the beauty of the Church. It was very welcoming to be able to visit on our recent trip to Buckland.

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    1. It certainly is beautiful. And has survived the years magnificently!

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  5. Thank you, Geoff. We visited the church last week during a short holiday in Tasmania. It's lovely to read more about it, especially the 14th century window.

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    1. Thank you Dorothea, I'm glad the post was of value for you. Glad you enjoyed your visit to Buckland. It is a very beautiful little church.

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