NEW CHURCH, NORFOLK PLAINS. — Subscriptions to a very large amount are being entered into for a new Episcopalian Church at Longford ; the present one being much too small for the want of the District. We hear of three gentlemen giving each three hundred guineas, and several a hundred each. — How well all this tells for Voluntaryism.
Launceston Advertiser, 5 October 1837
THE Committee of Management for the erection of a new Church at Longford, invite plans for the building, embodying the best features in certain plans submitted to a public meeting. ‘The plans must embrace elevations, ground sections and roof, and be accompanied by specifications and estimates of the probable cost. Thirty guineas will be given for the plan approved of by the committee.
Those plans above referred to, can be seen at’ the office of the Venerable the Archdeacon, Hobart town ; Mr. Kenworthy’s, Launceston ; and the Rev. R. R. Davies, Norfolk plains. They will be required to be sent in by the 11th Nov. now next ensuing.
Hobart Town Courier, 20 October 1837
At Longford, tho Church, erected some years since, had become much too small for the accommodation of the congregation, whilst at the same time, from some defect in the construction, it was not likely to stand long ; the inhabitants, therefore, determined upon having en entirely new and handsome building, the foundation of which it now completed, the first stone having been laid by the Lieutenant Governor, upon the tour already referred to more than once.
The Cornwall Chronicle, 28 September 1839
At Longford, the Church is rising gradually, but not so rapidly as was at first expected, in consequence of the Committee having come to the determination to adopt, in lieu of brick, a facing of free-stone, which has to be carted for several miles.
The Courier, 20 October 1840
Liberality. — It has been our pleasing duty upon several occasions to record the liberal donations and pecuniary assistance of Thomas Reibey. Esq., of Entally, to various public institutions, amongst which, the new church at Longford has been most munificently benefitted. Mr. Reibey not only subscribed several hundred pounds towards its erection, but has ordered for its service a peal of bells from
Cornwall Chronicle, 3 September 1842
LIBERALITY OF TICKET-OF-LEAVE MEN. — On the occasion of the late musters in the Norfolk Plains district, the ticket-of-leave men subscribed the sum of £100 towards the erection of Longford Church. We know the Rev. Mr. Davies is so generally esteemed by every class under his ministry, that he can confidently calculate on large pecuniary support to carry out his plans, but certainly this contribution is without parallel, and a less indefatigable clergyman would not have appealed to holders of tickets-of-leave as a class, and given them an opportunity to assist in the erection of a place of worship. Mr. Davies has no doubt he can annually raise as much money from the same source, and we are satisfied he will not be disappointed.
Launceston Examiner, 24 September 1842
COLONIAL ART.-When the glass of the chancel window of Longford church was unpacked, it was discovered that three of the fine canopies were broken, and one of the supporters of the arms of Tasmania. The glass, however, has been so well repaired, that the most critical observer cannot discover which of the canopies have been broken, or which supporter has been made in the colony, the kangaroo or emu. The artist’s name is Nash, who lately established himself at Longford, as painter and glazier. This window, which is the gift of Charles Reid, Esq., was painted by the famous Wailes, of Newcastle, and cost 300 guineas. It is the perpendicular gothic, and considered a work of great merit. Mr. Kidd, of Launceston, constructed the carved oak chairs for Longford church, and they have justly received universal commendation.
Launceston Examiner, 12 October 1844
LONGFORD CHURCH.-The new church at Longford was opened for Divine service on Sunday, the 6th instant. Notwithstanding the floods the church was filled at an early hour. The ser vice commenced by the Rev. R. R. Davies reading the bishop’s license to perform service in that building, to be called and known by the name of ” Christ’s Church,” Longford. After morning prayers, the bishop preached a most eloquent discourse–the address to the deacons will not soon be forgotten by any who heard it. His lordship especially alluded to Mr. Reibey, as one of their own sons-the first Tasmanian admitted to holy orders in this colony. The bishop then returned to the communion table, when Mr. Reibey was presented as a fit person to be admitted to the office of deacon, by the Rev. Mr. Davies, acting for the archdeacon. The ordination service was deeply affecting. At the offertory the sum of £ 127 was collected. In consequence of the echo, arising we presume from the position of the pulpit, many persons at the lower end of the church could not hear a great portion of the bishop’s sermon. In the afternoon the bishop preached at Cressy to a large congregation, and in the evening the Rev. Mr. Reibey read prayers at Longford and Mr. Davies preached on the value and importance of the Christian ministry.
Launceston Examiner, 12 October 1844
Rev. R. R. Davies was an active worker, and was instrumental in the erection of a church at Perth in 1832. In 1838, the residents of Longford and the surrounding districts turned their attention to the need of a new building for church purposes, as the first building was at that time very unsafe. In December, 1838, tenders were called for the erection of a new church, and in March, 1839, the corner stone was laid by the then Governor, Sir John Franklin.
“It was intended that this should be the cathedral church of the district, if not the north,”, says “The Church News” in 1898, “and it was thought that the neighbouring villages, which at the present time have their own churches, would have made this their place of worship. Accordingly one on a larger scale was started, with provisions made for galleries for still larger accommodation, which were never completed, nor were they needed, and so Christ Church remained bare and unfinished for many years.”
Great interest was shown in the new church. The subscription list shows that private subscriptions totalled £4276 2s; advanced by the S.P.C.K., £1037; grant from Government, £1500; total, £6813 2s.. There was much controversy over the Government grant, and had the committee obtained the sum it claimed from the Government, the church would have rejoiced in a tower and peal of bells, and moreover extensive galleries which, as it turned out, were not required.
Fell Short of Funds
The new church was a long time building. Started in 1839, it was not finished until 1844. A description of the building states that it was built of Hadspen freestone, and comprised nave and tower only. The committee falling short of funds, the tower had to stop short of its proper height fully 20 feet, and go without battlements and finials. Instead a wooden top was substituted, in which to place the clock and bell. A great feature of the church was (and is) its west window, which was presented by Mr. Charles Reid, a resident of the district, and cost £300. The clock and bell were provided by the Government, and cost, it is recorded, £200. On October 6, 1844, Christ Church was opened for Divine service by the Lord. Bishop of Tasmania, and at the same service was admitted to holy orders the first Tasmanian ordained in the colony, Rev. Thomas Reibey. Shortly after the opening, the old brick building was pulled down, as also the first wooden one.
Thereafter, although there were many changes in the parish, and other rectors followed in the footsteps of Rev. R. R. Davies, who later became Archdeacon of Hobart, there were apparently few changes in Christ Church itself until 1878(?). In that year, at the instigation of Rev. Arthur Wayn, it was decided to renovate the church, and a contract for £732 was let to Mr. Harry Conway, of Launceston. The unsightly scaffolding which supported the roof was replaced by iron columns or pillars painted to resemble grey granite. The shingling on the roof gave place to slate. Old-fashioned pews with doors were done away with. The total cost of restoration was £1300. The west window was repaired and backed with plate glass.
The Examiner, 30 May 1928
Graveyard is behind and around the church.