Restoring All Saints Church South Hobart
“A Building too precious to lose!”
This has become our motto for the restoration of All Saints Church, a significant building in the life of South Hobart and in the architectural history of Hobart.
The Church, designed by Henry Hunter, has been the gateway to the village of South Hobart since 1859. It is even more so now since the Southern Outlet intersects with Macquarie Street a few metres from the church.
Anyone who enters All Saints Church immediately becomes aware that there is something special here; not just because of the stunning glass crafted by William Clutterbuck and Ferguson and Urie; not just of the beautiful carved timber, lingering smell of incense or the votive candles burning at the Lady Shrine; but because of the prayers that have been offered by faithful worshippers over the years. But also because its architect, Henry Hunter was a student of the significant nineteenth century English Gothic Revival architect Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.
When Hunter found his way to Hobart he would have had contact with Bishop Robert WIllson, the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Hobart, who was also a friend of Pugin and shared his passion and belief.
In a letter to The Tablet in 1848, Pugin wrote that “architecture is the barometer of faith”. Both Willson and Pugin believed that to restore the architecture was to restore the faith with which it was associated. The spiritual journey of the parish of All Saints, South Hobart, its clergy and people, bears testimony to the truth of this belief.
The Foundation Stone of the building was laid in 1859 and the church opened for worship in 1861. In 2009 the parish celebrated the church’s Sesqui-centenary of the laying of the foundation stone. One major event was the launching of an appeal to raise some $980,000 to restore the fabric of the building.
To date the appeal has raised some $230,000, $80,000 of which is a grant from the Federal Government to be specifically applied to the restoration of the windows. The grant was obtained through the considerable efforts of Denison MP Andrew Wilkie.
In this initial phase, attention is being given to the stonework on the west wall, which is the side that suffers the weather. Stonemason, Duncan Foster, has completed a significant portion of the wall.
Alongside this project is the commencement of the restoration of the west windows. Stained Glass artist, Gavin Merrington from Original Stained Glass is undertaking the work. Local Hobart newspaper The Mercury, in a report on Saturday 22 October 1864, described the windows as “really magnificent works of art, being in quite modern style, and free from conventionalism in treatment, as shown by some bits of landscape effect which are most charmingly truthful to nature. They are the production of the celebrated house of Clutterbuck, so famous for skill and taste in the art of Church embellishment.”
For more information, please visit our Stained Glass Window Restoration page.
ABC television interview with Ray Brown, a great-great-great grandson of James Ferguson, Gavin Merrington (from ’Original Stained Glass’) our Stained Glass artist, and Duncan Foster, our stonemason.
You can also listen to an audio recording of the interview from ABC Radio here.
Future work will focus on the steeple which was struck by lightning some fifty years ago and the restoration of the porch. Attention will then turn to the interior.
Urgent Repairs to Church Roof
During Spring 2012 South Hobart was buffeted by strong gales. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the nave roof of the church (which was hitherto thought to be in sound condition) has been weakened by them significantly and moved. Much of the damage is recent however, a proportion can be attributed to the roof not being tied down to the nave walls and lightness of construction.
This is typical of rooves of the Victorian period which were de-signed to English standards and found to be not robust enough for the Tasmanian environment. The Church is subject to some extreme weather conditions which funnel along the Hobart Rivulet Valley and the west wall and nave roof have borne the brunt of the battering.
Consulting Engineer, Peter Spratt AM, assessed the problem and has recommend action in two reports. The reports recommend that urgent works are required to stabilise the roof. Otherwise a failure to act may result in more serious damage to the roof and walls of the church.
A longitudinal strut steel beam will be fabricated and installed by crane to stiffen roof structure. The roof needs to be re-positioned correctly on the nave walls and the roof trusses and underpurlins repaired. The roof rafters need to be bolted to the underpurlins and the roof members affixed to nave walls by steel plating and bolts. Most of the works will require scaffolding, some of which the church owns.
A project budget of $89000 is anticipated. We are most grateful to the Allport Bequest who have agreed to provide $30000 over the next three years, to The Tasmanian Community Fund who have responded to our application and granted us $30000 and to members of the community who have generously responded with donations. It is hoped that an insurance claim will supply another $30000.
These works are a serious worry and were quite unforeseen. The video below appeared on ABC news in Tasmania on 4 May 2013 and will give a little more insight into this project.
Cross ‘lifted high’ after 130 year absence
The cross at the top of the west wall of All Saints Church in South Hobart was blessed and replaced after an absence of 130 years. It was only when viewing photographs from the early decades of the Church’s history that it became clear that there had, in fact, been four crosses on the four points of the church.
Three of the four crosses had, over the first few decades, disintegrated due to the effects of extreme weather from the west.
The new cross, crafted by Tasmanian stonemason Duncan Foster, was carved from much stronger stone sourced from Buckland. Some slight modifications in the design will also help to strengthen it and ensure a much longer life.
Parishioners and members of the South Hobart Progress Association who had provided funds to replace the crosses came to witness the blessing and raising of the cross.
This marks another milestone in the restoration of All Saints Church.