26-07-1872: Memorial Congregational, Elizabeth and Brisbane streets, Hobart, Tasmania.

The foundation stone of the Memorial Independent Church was laid on the corner of Elizabeth and Brisbane streets in Hobart by Henry Hopkins (1787-1870) on the 16th August 1870 [1] and was formally opened on Thursday 7th November 1872 [2].

In late July 1872 the stained glass windows for the church had arrived from the Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon stained glass company of Melbourne[3] and were promptly erected. A further two “variegated pattern” windows were expected to arrive by the Southern Cross from Victoria on the 4th of August 1872[4].

Photos taken 8th October 2010.

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The Memorial Independent church was built in the decorated gothic style to the designs of the architect Francis Butler (1823-1916) and erected by the contractors ‘R & R Shield’ who tendered for the construction at a cost of £6,835.

The laying of the foundation stone by Henry Hopkins was one of his last public events. The 16th of August 1870 also marked his 83rd birthday and he died five weeks later on the 27th September 1870 [5].

Preceding his laying of the foundation stone of the church the usual affair of placing a time capsule beneath the stone occurred and;

“…A zinc box containing copies of The Mercury, Tasmanian Times, Tasmanian Independent, Friend, and other journals, various coins of the realm, photographs of the old and proposed new church, and cartes de viste of the Rev. F. Miller, H. Hopkins, Esq., the late Mrs. Hopkins, and the Rev. W. C. Robinson. The zinc box was hermetically sealed, and laid in the cist beneath the memorial stone…” [6]

Also included in the box was the speech read by the Rev. W. C. Robinson, after which the elderly Henry Hopkins was assisted to the platform from his nearby carriage and seated on a chair where he was then presented with;

“…A beautiful box made of Tasmanian light wood, by Mr. Wooley, of Macquarie-street, containing a handsome silver trowel, manufactured and presented by Mr. C. Gaylor, of Liverpool-street, and a mallet, made of coloured myrtle wood, with ivory handle, the work of Mr. Haywood, of Goulburn-street, was then presented to Mr. Hopkins. The silver trowel bore the following inscription: “Presented by Charles Gaylor to the congregation of the Memorial Church, Hobart Town, on the occasion of laying the foundation stone, by Henry Hopkins, August 16th, 1870.” On the lid of the box was a photograph of the proposed edifice. Mr. Shields, the contractor, having had the memorial stone raised about three feet, the mortar was spread, the box containing the records, deeds, &c., placed in the cist, and the stone was slowly lowered to its permanent position. Mr. Hopkins, after giving the stone two or three knocks with the trowel, said: “I declare this foundation stone laid in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and may the blessing of God attend the labours of all concerned in it. Forty years ago I had the privilege of introducing the first Independent minister to this colony, and thirty years since I was the means of the introduction of the first Independent minister into Victoria. Two months ago I had the privilege of laying the foundation stone of the new Wesleyan Church in Davey-street, and now I am called upon to lay the foundation stone of the Memorial Church, which stone bears the name of the Rev Frederick Miller, who arrived in this place forty years ago. He was a man of piety and energy and he felt a great love for the people, and for every cause that had for its object the glory of god and the good of his fellow man. I rejoice in having the opportunity of laying this stone; and may the blessing of God attend the labours of all those who shall be engaged in this building.” The following is the inscription engraved on the brass plate which is let into the stone:- “Memorial Congregational Church, the first Christian Church formed in the Australias upon Independent principles; the Rev. F. Miller, pastor, A.D. 1830 to the year 1862. This stone was laid by Henry Hopkins, Esq., 16th August 1870.” [7]

The church was to be known as the ‘Memorial Congregational Church’ in memory of the first Independent or Congregational minister, the Reverend Frederick Miller (1806-1862), who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in 1830 and commenced his ministry on the 17th of October in the same year. The very first chapel on the site was funded solely by him at a cost of £500 and opened on the 20th April 1832[8]. He died on the 13th in October 1862 aged 56 [9].

Since 2006 the Memorial Congregational church has been the Seventh Day Adventist & Multicultural Church.

Significant tabloid transcriptions about the windows:

The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, Friday 26th July 1872, page 2,

 “THE MEMORIAL CHURCH – The whole of the windows for the Memorial Church having arrived from Melbourne, with the exception of the transept windows, the contractors are busy fitting them in, so that the internal work of the building may be proceeded with as soon as possible. The large front window is completed. It is of stained glass, beautifully designed and ornamented, bearing the inscription in the lower panes, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” There will be four windows on each side, some of them with a quarter-foil over the two side lights, and others with cinque-foil and six-foil, while the borders will be of different colours, blue, yellow, purple, or green. There will be two vestry windows with blue borders, three apse windows with yellow borders, and a large number of small windows, the colours of the borders in each instance being varied. The whole of the windows, except the front and transept, which are stained, are of cathedral glass; and the makers, Messrs. Fergusson[sic], Urie, and Lyon, of Melbourne, have eminently sustained the name which they have already obtained in these colonies as stained glass manufacturers. The large window in the gable is a piece of work which shows the remarkable progress which has been made in this art during the last few years in Victoria.”

The Launceston Examiner, Saturday 3rd August 1872, page 5.

“…The stained glass windows, so far as they go, give the building a picturesque appearance; two more windows have to be supplied, and they are expected to arrive by the Southern Cross tomorrow, from the establishment of Messrs. Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon, Curzon-street, Melbourne. The pattern, variegated and blending colors of the glass are of an artistic description, and in due proportion with the general coup d’oeil of the interior of the building…”

The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, Saturday 10th August 1872, page 3.

 “The Memorial Church, at the corner of Elizabeth and Brisbane-streets, is in an advanced state toward completion, and some idea can now be realised of the very elegant appearance the church will present when it is entirely finished. While externally it will have the semblance of a magnificent building, internally its appearance will be fully compatible with the outside. The embellishments are of a rich chaste character, consistent with the beautiful design of the building. The roof and the gallery are finished. The windows are also in. The front and transept windows are of stained glass, beautifully designed and ornamented, while the remainder of the windows, which are of cathedral glass, are improved by borders of various colours. The makers, Messrs. Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon, of Melbourne, have eminently sustained the name which they have already obtained in these colonies as stained glass manufacturers. The church, it is anticipated, will be opened as soon after its completion as possible.”

External links:

Biography: Henry Hopkins (1787-1870)

State Library Vic: A Sermon occasioned by the death of Mr. Henry Hopkins, Rev George Clarke, 9 Oct 1870.

Biography: Rev Frederick Miller (1806-1862)

Biography: Rev George Clarke (1823-1913)


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3 comments on “26-07-1872: Memorial Congregational, Elizabeth and Brisbane streets, Hobart, Tasmania.

  1. my grandparents Albury and Elsie King dedicated many years to this beautiful church, although not a congregationlist I often as a young boy attended significant (packed to the rafters) sunday services , such as the annual harvest festival service in which the church would be filled with marvellous flowers and agricultural offerings from the countryside. I remember the gutsy fincham pipe organ that dominated the front of the church and the (elderly but proficient) choir led by the organist miss molly sidebottom. This was in the mid 60’s martin reddington st kilda victoria

  2. Pingback: A surprising connection, with an earlier stage of my walk, was discovered unexpectedly | Walking the Derwent River

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