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St Patricks Church, Colebrook, Tasmania

Margaret  Hyde

Ulverstone, Australia

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Artist's Description

900 viewings on 30 July, 2016.

In the 1840"s the village of Jerusalem (now Colebrook) seemed destined to become an important centre of southern Van Dieman’s Land (now Tasmania). Catholics in the area were served by the priest resident some twenty-seven kilometres to the south. Bishop Willson moved to make permanent provision for the Catholics, selecting land and a church model created by the English architect Augustus Welby Northmere Pugin.

The task of converting the model into working drawings and supervising the erection of the church was given to Hobart architect Frederick Thomas (1817-1885) Thomas had been sentenced to transportation to New South Wales in 1834 for swindling and in 1842 to fifteen years in a penal settlement for stealing, arriving in Hobart Town in February 1843. While still on probation he was assigned as an unqualified draftsman and clerk to the Public Works Department and eventually Clerk of Works. He had no right to private practice and was the subject of an enquiry into abuses in the Public Works Dept in 1856 on account of his “moonlighting”.

The selected builder was Patrick John Lynch (1804-1889) who had arrived in tasmania as an assisted migrant from Ireland in 1854.

The site was a difficult one, the ground level falling over four metres from the south-west to the north-east corner of the land. Local sandstone was laid in 12 inch (30cm) regular squared rubble courses bedded in light soil. Shingles were used for the roof.

The church was opened on 21 January, 1857. Just after 11am on Sunday 8 September 1895 a violent mini tornado struck the chruch. The bellcote was thrown down onto the chancel roof, destroying it, and debris damaging the north wall, floor and altar. Fortunately it was not a Mass Sunday or the priest and altar boys would have been killed.

Repair work was carried out with exception of the bellcote, which was replaced with a copy of the cross at the nave gable. The roof was apparantly covered with corrugated iron at the time. The work was completed in early winter 1896 but the church was not reopened until 4 April, 1897. The triple bellcote was reinstated in 2007 by the Pugin Foundation and further restoration is ongoing.

My photograph “Cross, St Patricks Church, Colebrook” shows the grave and gives information on the church’s first pastor.

Artwork Comments

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