From A Short Account of Christ Church, Longford, the drawing “is made from the south of the [current] Church and shows the great window. The old Church is seen behind and more to the north; it was pulled down as soon as the other was in use, and the bricks were used for the building of the Sunday School, which seems to have been finished by December, 1845.”
We are happy to congratulate the inhabitants of Norfolk Plains, that a Church is in rapid progress and that the present Christian Governor has also appointed a Clergyman to officiate regularly therein. This will do much to repress all such gross violations of Religion, and of morality; and we firmly believe that the Rev. Mr. Davis will find his parishioners as devout and as attentive to their religious duties as in any other part of the Colony.
Launceston Advertiser, 14 June 1830
At Norfolk plains, an elegant little chapel is now nearly finished.
Launceston Advertiser, 17 January 1831
The first known visit of a clergyman was that of the Rev. James Norman of St, John’s Launceston on 12th Sept. 1827; but in 1828 the Rev. R. R. Claiborne started the “Norfolk Plains Grammar School,” and was available for services. It was now decided to build a Church, as a clergyman was expected to arrive for the district from England in 1830. The Government gave the site, the area of which was later fixed at 8t acres, and also provided the bricks and other materials for the building itself, while the inhabitants supplied the fittings, which cost £ 190, including an early form of harmonium, called a Seraphine.” This was placed at the back of a gallery behind curtains, in front of which sot the convicts employed in the district. The clock at present in use was housed in some sort of tower. The Church is said to have had a seating capacity of 400; but this seems to have been impossible, even when taking into account the large gallery. The Rev. R. R. Davies arrived in 1830 to take charge of an enormous parish extending from Ross to the Bass Strait. There were only seven priests in the Diocese at this time. The Church was not finished till nine months after his arrival, that is in April 1831; but it must have been very badly built, for seven years later it had to be propped up with stays, which are shown in the contemporary drawing [below]. It was also too small, probably because of an increase in the number of convicts, so plans were made for an extension of the gallery round the sides of the Church for their accommodation; but it was discovered that the foundations were unsound and the walls beyond repair, and this work was not undertaken. Tenders were therefore called for the erection of a new Church.
From A Short Account of Christ Church, Longford.
An old church record gives a Comprehensive story of the growth of church life at Longford. From it is learned that “the first efforts in the cause of religion and education were made in 1826, when the then Governor, Sir George Arthur, appointed Mr. W. P. Weston to the charge of the King’s elementary school, and catechist and lecturer for the district.” The first recorded visit of a clergyman was on September 12, 1827: Rev. James Norman, chaplain of. St. John’s, Launceston, had on September 11 married a couple from there. His next visit, according to his diary, was on November 9, 1828, when he rode out from Launceston. Two services were held on that occasion. During the same year Rev. R. R. Claiborne opened the Norfolk Plains Grammar School, and besides attending to his school duties, occasionally conducted services at Longford, and also at St. John’s, Launceston.
About the latter end of the year 1829, in view of a clergyman arriving shortly from England to take charge of the district, a church was decided upon and tenders invited in the papers for the bricks required. Then again, in April 1830, tenders were called in the “Gazette” for the completion of certain furnishings for the church. The Government supplied the labour, and material for the outside walls and roof. These were completed on June 18. The interior fittings and furniture were subscribed by the inhabitants themselves, the cost to them being £190, including a Seraphine, which cost £60. The record adds that “the church was not a handsome structure by any means, and was very badly built. In less than seven years it had to be propped up all round. It could boast of some sort of a tower, and in this the present clock was placed. There was a gallery also, and here the Seraphine was placed and screened by red curtains, outside which the prisoners sat, some heavily ironed, their. chains clanking as they came in and left the church.”
Rev. R. R. Davies Arrives
On April 20, 1830, Rev. Rowland Robert Davies arrived in the colony, having been appointed by His Majesty George IV, chaplain to the district. His first services were held in a small two roomed cottage near the river, and his congregations amounted to five only. Then a small wooden structure which had been erected on the rising ground near where the church was being built was utilised until the church was completed, which was not till well on the following year, 1831.
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.
Shortly after the opening, the old brick building was pulled down, as also the first wooden one.
The Examiner, 30 May 1928