Sunday, 11 September 2016

St Thomas Church, Sorell

400th Post

The Catholic community began to establish itself in Sorell from the late 1840’s and first requested the government for an allotment on which to build a church in 1850. The Hobart Bishop Wilson also requested four lots for a minister’s house, a school and other church purposes as well as a burial ground.

An initial four acre grant was subsequently reduced to three, although a contemporary newspaper account also notes that Andrew Counsel had donated land for the church as well. The church, which is a typical medium sized country church building of coursed rubble stone with gabled ends, a small side entry porch and a vestry wing was designed by the noted architect, Henry Hunter, and constructed by Messrs Molloy & Rigby.

The construction was overseen by the priest for Richmond, Father William Dunne. The stone was quarried free of charge from land belonging to Mrs Lord of Richmond. Andrew Counsel not only donated land for the church but also made a donation of 200 pounds towards the construction costs.

Work was begun in 1863 with the foundation stone laid in 1864 and was completed the same year (1864), enabling the church to be opened amid great fanfare by Bishop Wilson in January 1865. The church continues to serve the local Catholic community to this day and is one of a group of stone church buildings in Sorell that form an excellent group of such buildings which form an important part of the makeup of Sorell.

Main Text & Information Source – 
Sorell Heritage Study – Site Inventory Vol 5 – Sorell Municipal Council 1996

An interesting web page to have a look out as it contains descriptions from “The Mercury” Newspaper 23rd April 1864 and 13th January 1865 of the laying of the foundation stone and also the grand opening of St Thomas Catholic Church