St John the Baptist Anglican Church, Buckland

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Just off the highway at Buckland, formerly Prosser's Plains.
Foundation stone laid 1846. Consecrated 1850.

This little church is best known for its large window which is claimed to date to the 14th century. The myths surrounding the window are looked at in a post on the Stained Glass Australia site. While the window isn't 14th century, the design of the church is.

 

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[This article includes a long description of the church, so it has been split.]

CONSECRATION.
The Church at Prosser's Plains was consecrated on the 15th instant [January 1850]. The singular beauty of the fabric has been heard of in many quarters, and was doubtless a contributing cause to the gathering of a considerable congregation, who came to witness and give thanks for its dedication.

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The Bishop and attendant Clergy, in their vestments, were met at the church-door by several of the inhabitants of the place, whose petition for consecration having been read by Thomas Crittenden, Esq , the Bishop entered the church, followed by the clergy and by the congregation which had assembled outside. The office of consecration usual in this diocese succeeded. Morning Player was said by the Rev. C. Dobson, the present chaplain of Prosser's Plains; the Rev. F. H. Cox read the appropriate lessons; and the Rev. Messrs. Tancred and Davenport assisted the Bishop at the altar. The sermon was preached by the Bishop ; and, the office of the holy communion being ended, the people were dismissed with his benediction. It is not too much to say that many who were present felt deeply the privilege of attending a church and a service in which every outward circumstance and detail of worship brought to their hearts the time-honoured sanctuaries of their native land.

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The church consists of a nave and chancel, with a north porch, mid vestry on the south of the chancel. The length of the interior from east to west is 64 feet, (nave 44 foot, chancel 20 feet;) the width 23½ feet; the height, from the floor to the roof-ridge. about 38 feet. The church is entered by a massive door, with iron bundle, and hinges of scroll-work, after an ancient pattern, ably executed by a country blacksmith.

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Immediately within the church on the right hand, is the font, the gift of the Archdeacon of Hobart Town: it is octagonal, the bowl springing by a well-wrought moulding from the carved shaft, which again dies gracefully into the base; the whole being raised on an octagonal plinth, round which are placed kneeling-stools for sponsors; it is lined with lead, and provided with a water-drain. The pulpit stands in the south-east corner of the nave: this also is octagonal ; the two front panels being carved with tracery in the head, and filled in with velvet embroidered in gold thread with the Scriptures, "I have a message from God unto thee"--and " He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Under the chancel-arch, on the south side, is the Prayer-desk; and beside it, a desk for the Holy Bible, facing the congregation. There are pews of the colonial lightwood on either side of the central alley of the nave: these are uniform, with low backs, and all provided with kneeling-stools ; their simplicity and real comfort presenting a remarkable contrast to the enclosures which more or less hinder the worship of so many of our congregations.

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The windows of the nave are glazed with ground glass. The chancel, which is raised two steps above the nave, is paved with encaustic tiles, from a celebrated Staffordshire manufactory. The Lord's Table stands on another step, and is covered with an exceedingly rich velvet cloth, embroider"! in needlework, with the sacred monogram, and other appropriate ornaments. The Communion vessels are of silver, the workmanship of Mr. Butterfield, an eminent church-architect. The Altar books are remarkable for their costliness and exquisite binding. But the most striking objects in the interior of this Church are the windows of the chancel--a large eastern window of three lights, and a smaller one of two lights in the northern side. These are filled with stained glass, the work of Mr. O'Connor, a London artist.

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The east window represents in the head our Messed Saviour upon the Cross, with His Mother and the Beloved Disciple on either side; and in the three lights St. John the Baptist (in whose name the Church is dedicated) in the principal scenes of his ministry ; viz., Preaching in the Wilderness, Baptising our Lord, mid Suffering Death in the Prison. The north window exhibits the symbols appropriated in Christian art to the four Evangelists.-(Rev. iv 7.)

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When it is added, that the roofs of both nave and chancel are of very high pitch, and open to the ridge, of native wood stained a dark colour, and the rafters, colliers, and braces being thickly set, and producing a good perspective effect, the reader will have no difficulty in comprehending the details of this very interesting village church.

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Of its external features it will suffice to mention the excellent masonry of the walls, which, with their massive staged buttresses, present an appearance of great solidity; the windows with their foliated tracery of the 14th century ; the ornamental gable-crosses at the east of chancel and nave ; and the simple belt-gable at the west-that frequent characteristic of an English village church. The aesthetic effect of the whole was felt by many to be in harmony with the Psalm, "Quam Dilecta," used at the consecration ; and the words "O! how amiable are Thy dwellings, Thou Lord of Hosts !" found a response in many hearts.

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It will be matter of interest lo many to know that the whole cost of the building, exclusive of the ornamental features of the interior, which have been described, was about nine hundred pounds ; half of which sum was con- tributed from public funds, agreeably to the Church Act of the colony, and the remainder chiefly by residents in the neighbourhood. The stained glass, encaustic tiles, altar cloth, linen, and service books, alms-chest, &c, ail of which deserve a more minute description than the scanty notice which has been attempted, were the joint contribution of the late chaplain and architect of the church, various members of his family in England, and by some of his personal friends. The communion-plate was sent out as an offering from his former parishioners in Sussex.

Is it too much to hope that the consecration of this simple and unpretending, but very beautiful church is the beginning of a new era in the ecclesiastical architecture of the colony; und that the unhappy mistakes that have been made in the structure and arrangement of most of our Tasmanian churches will be of less frequent occurrence than heretofore ?
The Courier, 23 January 1850