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.