Buckland is one of those towns easily missed. There’s a sign marking its existence between Sorell and Orford. To the north of the Tasman Highway is Ye Olde Buckland Inn, the town’s hotel, and a roadhouse serving petrol and take-away food. But for those paying attention and looking to the south of the road as you drive between Hobart and the east coast of Tasmania, there’s a little gem!
I must confess… I was forewarned. Roger Findlay (a regular contributor to Think Tasmania) posted a comment about the stained glass windows of the St John the Baptist Anglican Church in Buckland when I wrote a recent article about Tasmanian churches. So as I made my way to Bicheno for a long weekend, I was keen to seek out the attraction.
Finding the right place wasn’t difficult. The church is close to the main road and has easy access. After parking the car and wandering over, I was a little disappointed at first. The windows were covered with steel mesh and the panels were hard to make out. But the beautiful sandstone building, fence and surrounding grounds were still appealing. And being such a glorious, sunny day it was nice to just have a wander outside.
And then… the secret reveal itself. The Buckland church is actually open and welcomes visitors inside! With the sunshine pouring through, the stained glass windows were absolutely magnificent, and I went a little crazy on the photos. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not down with the protocol of religious conduct, but I just couldn’t resist. I did try to whisper my delight as I snapped away!
Lots of tourists in Tasmania have been enthralled by the windows. There’s a visitor’s book to sign in the entrance, with many travellers taking the time to document their chance discovery. You can buy postcards and read from the history books too.
St John the Baptist Anglican Church
Apparently, St John the Baptist Anglican Church was built in 1846. The main stained glass window at the east end of the Buckland church has been the cause of some speculation. Experts and history buffs have argued about the true age of the window, and how it came to be in Tasmania.
No matter to me really, I’m just glad it’s still there now! The tale depicted in that particular stained glass is a little gruesome, but still breathtaking. And to continue the morbid theme, the surrounding graveyard is filled with old headstones, many with still legible inscriptions.
Country Retreat: Tasmania
The district around the Prosser River was settled in the 1820s and was originally known as Prosser Plains. Tasmanian Governor John Franklin was responsible for the renaming of the tiny town as Buckland in 1846. The surrounding rolling hills make for pleasant country views.
These days, the area is promoted to hobby farm enthusiasts. If you believe the real estate agents, it’s ripe for fruit and vegetable orchards, raising chickens and there’s always room for a pony! Being 60kms from Hobart, 15kms from Orford and close to the iconic Tasmanian beaches of the east coast, there could be worse places to build your dream home than Buckland. You might even be inspired to include some stained glass windows of your own.