Another Sunday; another drive from Hobart to explore the surrounding Tasmanian regions. This time around, we landed at the very pleasant village of Richmond in the Coal River Valley. During the visit, we took a few photos. Now there’s a shock! Anyway, we shared some of those photos via Instagram (again, surprise!) including several shots of the famous and much-photographed Richmond Church. As we do, we’re sharing a few more images here, to be fair to ALL our lovely readers, many of whom avoid social media like the plague!
Which Richmond Church?
When we say “Richmond Church”, in this instance we’re actually referring to St John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, to be precise. There are other houses of religion in town. You’ll find St Luke’s Anglican Church (circa 1834) on the corner of Church and Torrens Streets. The Organ Historical Trust of Australia website shares information and lovely photos of St Luke’s in Richmond.
The Congregational Church (circa 1873) now stands in Bridge Street, however the first version of this Richmond church was built in 1844, also in Torrens Street. Damaged by a storm (or a “fearful hurricane” as recorded in the Australian Heritage Database) the original church was demolished in 1876. History buffs can still visit the site of the cemetery at the Richmond Congregational Burial Ground in Torrens Street.
We may reveal more about those additional sites another time. Today, we’re just sharing our photos of St John’s Catholic Church. That’s all. Nothing too in-depth. We’ll leave plenty of reasons for you to explore Richmond’s historic assets for yourself.
St John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church
Visitors access St John’s Catholic Church via a large paved car park fronting St Johns Circle, a one-way loop road entering and returning via Wellington Street. The Circle runs behind the Catholic Primary School and exits near the most famous of all Richmond landmarks, the heritage Richmond Bridge.
Unlike us, really clever photographers have been known to capture stunning images (all in the one frame) of Australia’s oldest bridge and Australia’s oldest Catholic church. Obviously they’re able to find a higher vantage point than ours; we were standing right by the bridge at ground level, with all the ducks!
St John’s (circa 1836) is commonly dubbed Australia’s oldest Catholic church, although that statement may need some qualification. The foundation stone for St Mary’s Cathedral (in Sydney NSW) was laid in 1821 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, but in 1865 the original chapel was ruined by fire. Tasmania’s Richmond church remains the oldest still-functioning Catholic church, used by the local congregation for weekly Mass services on Sundays. It’s a similar story for the bridge… the Richmond Bridge is the oldest bridge still being used in Australia.
Richmond Tasmania: History and Architecture
Leaving the minor “who’s the oldest” quibble aside, the Richmond church is still an impressive piece of architecture. Apparently Frederick Thomas (1817–1885), a transported convict who progressed to become an architect in Hobart, was involved in the adaptation of plans for the construction. The Pugin Foundation published an interesting essay by Brian Andrews about the Richmond church if you’re keen for a little more reading.
Otherwise, thanks for your interest in our happy snaps. Photography purists should quickly shield their delicate eyes, because our photos have been tricked up and digitally “enhanced” something chronic… in all honesty, the virgin copies were Not. Very. Good. Feel free to add to this collection of photos with your own versions of this Richmond church… send images with details to Think Tasmania.
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