St Peter’s Hall, Hobart

Collins Street, between Argyle and Campbell Streets, Hobart
c1856 -1904

Constructed as a temperance hall and school house, and occasional services. It appears on Jarman’s 1858 map of Hobart as a Catholic church/chapel


The land appears Sprent’s survey map from the 1840s as reserved for “Reserved for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Community to be used as Temperance Hall and a Sunday School & occasionally for a place of Worship. Whenever the building ceases to be used for the above purpose the land to revert to the Crown”.


YESTERDAY afternoon the foundation stone of his intended edifice was laid by the Right Rev. Bishop Wilson, on a piece of land to the left of the town rivulet, in Collins-street, granted to the Roman Catholic Church by Sir Win. Denison for the erection of a school-house. A procession was formed at St. Joseph’s church, at half past two consisting of the members of the church, the children of the sabbath and day schools, the fine band belonging to the temperance society, and several banners, headed by Rev. W. Hall, Vicar General; Revs. Bond, McGuire, Marum, Hunter, Wood, Fitzgerald, Dr. Hall, Mr. Cox. Mr. O’Donel, &c. &c. The procession proceeded down Macquarie-street, and when opposite Government House came to a full stand to allow Sir Henry and Lady Young to witness the procession, the band playing the National Anthem, then marching down Elizabeth-street, up Liverpool-street, and down Campbell-street, they came to the site of the intended structure. The Bishop, who did not walk in the procession, was waiting in his carriage. The proceeding of the day then commenced by the offering up of a prayer by the Bishop, and then the stone was laid, a bottle being placed under the same, bearing the following inscription, as well as containing several coins of the realm:

“The first stone of this Hail, in the name of the Most Holy and undivided Trinity, under the patronage of St. Peter the Apostle was laid by Robert William, Catholic Bishop of Hobarton, in the ix. year of the pontificate of His Holiness Pius IX., on the XVII. day of May, MDCCCLV., being the VXIII. year of the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria 1st, His Excellency Sir Henry Edward Fox Young being Governor of this Colony.
“Architect–W. Thomas.
“H. Hunter> Builders
“? Gillon  >

The Rev. Mr Bond then delivered an address to the assemblage, stating the purposes for which it was to be erected, not only for the promotion of religion, by the holding of services and the establishment of sabbath and day schools, but also to assist in the great cause of morality, by having temperance meetings, and the formation of societies somewhat similar to the guilds in olden times. The speaker then adverted at some length to the good which had been produced by the temperance society in this city in raising the tone of the community to a high moral status, and concluded by making an earnest appeal to all. present to come forward, and give what they could afford to complete the erection of the building. And as it was a good old custom among them from time immemorial to place such offering on the foundation stone, they could do so on this occasion, and those that did not like could contribute another time.

The collection amounted to £45. The proceedings then terminated.
Colonial Times, 18 May 1855

Extract from an account of the laying of the stone:
St Peter’s Hall will be a handsome, elegant, and substantial Gothic structure of stone, and must prove a fitting ornament to the locality of the splendid New Market. The principal entrance will be by the porch or western elevation next to the Argyle-street end of the site, where a bridge will be thrown across the Hobart Town Rivulet as a means of approach, the remainder of the grant being intended to be formed into a shrubbery. There will be a beautiful window in the eastern elevation, and a handsome light in the gable. On the side next the Rivulet there will be five lights. The height of the building will be forty feet to the ornamental crossets which surmount the gable, and the interior dimensions of the Hall will be 70 feet 6 inches long by 29 feet 6 inches wide, in the clear. On the side next the Hospital a space measuring 26 by 12 feet has been appropriated for the erection of two committee and coffee rooms, and an interior gallery about 14 feet high, of handsome design, will be erected over the porch for the accommodation of the Band at the Society’s meetings.
The Courier, 18 May 1855

St. Peter’s Hall.-This new building in the rear of the Colonial Hospital, in Collins-street, is quickly progressing, and when completed, will constitute a very handsome structure in the Gothic style of Architecture ; the masonry, which is of stone, is massive, and the design combines ornament with substantial utility. It is calculated, that the Hall will be entirely finished and fitted up for the reception of visitors before the end of the year.
Hobarton Mercury, 28 August 1855

St. Peter’s Hall, Collins-street.-This building is fast approaching to completion, and will be an ornament to the locality. A grand tea party will take place to-morrow evening at St. Joseph’s School-room, Harrington-street, in aid of the fund, and a fancy bazaar for the same purpose is announced to take place in the hall itself about the beginning of January next.
The Courier, 29 October 1855

Mr. Guesdon’s new auction mart, a handsome and very substantial stone building, is rearing its bold front in Collins-st., opposite the Ship Inn, and when completed will constitute one of the finest business structures in the city; and St. Peter’s Hall, lower down in the same street, is being roofed-in and slated; this is a fine structure, well-designed and substantially constructed, but in a bad situation; and “last if not least” the Rising Sun has arisen Phoenix-like from its ashes, and presents an ornamental appearance in a locality not very celebrated for good buildings.
Hobarton Mercury, 14 November 1855

Tasmanian Daily News, 24 November 1855
Tasmanian Daily News, 24 November 1855

The following is from a long advertisement printed in the Mercury (link at the bottom).

38 Macquarie-street
Jan. 10, 1856.

When I took the liberty of calling upon you, on Tuesday morning last, you surprised me by stating, in very positive terms, that the land in Collins-street, on which St. Peter’s Hall now stands, had not been granted by the Government for a Temperance Hall, but for a Catholic Church–that you had actually seen the grant specifying this, in the Surveyor-General’s Office–and therefore were convinced that such was the fact.

At that moment, I could only say, I believed you were labouring under a mistake but could not then flatly contradict your positive assertion.

Rev. Sir, since I had the pleasure of seeing you have been able to ascertain that what you stated o positively to be a fact, is indeed not so; and, moreover, if you REALLY HAD SEEN THE GRANT, you stated that which you knew not to be the fact.

I will take the liberty of laying before you an extract from that memorandum, copied 9th Jan., 1856.
“****Containing about 1 rood 14 perches, reserved for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Community, to be used as a TEMPERANCE HALLand a Sunday School, and occasional for a place of worship.”-Vide Col. Sec. Memo, 17th April 1850.

Rev. Sir, I shall make no comment on this extract but leave you to your reflections.

Now I am on this subject, you will, perhaps, allow me to add a little more in reference to it. I am informed that when application was made in 1850 for this piece of land, the following information was sent from the Colonial Secretary’s Office to the Catholic Bishop.

“Colonial Secretary’s Office, 17th April, 1850.
” The Lieutenant-Governor approves of the land indicated in your letter of the 11th February last being granted to Trustees for the use of the Roman Catholic Community, on the conditions stated in your memorandum of 9th ultimo, and the Surveyor General has been so informed
(Signed) “J E BICHENO”

The memorandum was to this effect:
“Application for land on which to erect a building for the Catholic Total Abstinence Society, or occasionally to be used for Divine Service on Sundays, or a Sunday School for Catholic children; or to relieve the Church (St Joseph’s) from secular business.”

Now, Reverend Sir, I would ask you either in your capacity of Minister of Religion, or as an honest and truthful man, how you could venture to charge the Very Rev. W. Hall, in your paper of last Monday morning with fraud, in asking the public to aid him in the arduous undertaking of collecting means for the erection of this building, under the designation of St. Peter’s Hall, you all the while knowing the land was granted in the words I have quoted?

Reverend Sir, you may have a pleasure in endeavouring to libel and defame this laborious, self-denying, indefatigable gentleman; and it may, perhaps, for a time serve your purpose. You may wish to mar the interests of St Peter’s Hall, as no doubt you do; still I venture to predict it will be paid for-aye, and partly by many who profess a different creed from mine who are probably quite equal to you in sincerity before God, truthfulness to mankind, and valuable as members of society.

You may gnash your teeth, and dip your editor’s pen in gall and bitterness; but believe me, all such efforts will, ultimately, recoil upon yourself, either as a Minister of religion, an editor of a newspaper, or a gentleman. Where truth and justice are wanting, neither honor, peace of mind, nor even temporal prosperity, can be expected.

I am, Reverend Sir,
Your obedient servent

P.S.-I shall consider myself quite at liberty to make such use of this communication as I shall think proper; and of course, you will use your own pleasure in making it public; but if so, I beg you will have the goodness to publish it entire.
Hobarton Mercury, 16 January 1856

An application from the Vicar-General for permission to erect a temporary bridge- over the Creek to St. Peter’s Hall, to be removed when required, and to serve only until a substantial bridge could be thrown over, was referred to the Public Works’ Committee for consideration.
The Courier, 7 May 1856

Hobarton Mercury, 13 May 1857
Hobarton Mercury, 13 May 1857

The Roman Catholics have decided to sell St. Peter’s Hall, and it is probable the Government will purchase it for hospital purposes.
Launceston Examiner, 13 March 1899

From “Hobart Hospital”:
St. Peter’s-hall.
Mr. Snowden presented a special report of the Visiting Committee on the question of whether St. Peter’s-ball and land would be of any value if acquired for hospital purposes. The committee stated–
”After careful inquiry, they can see no purpose to which either the land or building could be put in regard to hospital requirements.”
Dr. Crowther Are the premises offered to the committee as a gift.” (Laughter.)
The Chairman Not exactly.
Dr. Crowther urged that there was a great and urgent necessity for accommodating scarlet fever cases. The difficulty was coming to a climax. The building might be useful, temporarily, in an emergency.
The Chairman agreed that there was great weight in what Dr. Crowther was urging, and he had had an interview with the Chief Secretary on the subject The Medical Committee were asked to remain after the board meeting to discuss what should be done.
Dr. Crowther The hall would be a paradise to some of the patients, compared with their own homes. The necessity for isolating the cases is what I am thinking of
The Chairman said it might be a matter for future consideration, whether they might utilise St. Peter’s-hall temporarily, but it would be of no use to purchase it.
The Merucry, 15 February 1902

From Tasmanian Parliament:
The MINISTER OF LANDS said in 1850 the land in question was granted to the Catholic Church for church and temperance purposes. A building was erected, known as St Peter’s-hall, and the land was very little good to anyone else. It was now proposed to sell the land to the Church for £25, no title having been given when the land was granted.

The clause was agreed to, and the bill was reported without amendment, the third reading being fixed for next day.
The Mercury, 21 November 1902

The Mercury, 15 January 1903
The Mercury, 15 January 1903

St. Peters’ Hall fifty odd years ago was a Roman Catholic place of worship. For many years it has been a place of public entertainment. Stars in the singing world have warbled under its walls, and many a goodly public meeting when politics ran high down south met under the roof of the picturesque gothic’ edifice. St. Peter’s Hall stands under a sandstone cliff, on a tongue of land on the northern side of the Hobart rivulet. To obtain access to the building one has to cross a bridge which spans the rivulet, and which at this spot is about forty feet across. St. Peter s was put up for sale, the other day, and it brought £450, or, rather, the land on which it stands did. The building is to be pulled down and the stone used to construct another Roman Catholic edifice somewhere in Brisbane-street. The purchasers are a well-known firm of timber merchants, who have not a spark of romance in their nature. As soon as the old hall, with its many happy memories to some people, is demolished, its space will be covered with the utilitarian timber stack.
Daily Telegraph, 17 June 1903

Another landmark of the city has dis appeared. St. Peter’s Hall, which has stood on an historic spot under the lime stone cliff of the Hobart Hospital for over fifty years, has been pulled down, and the material from the building will be devoted to the erection of another hall, on the grounds of the Roman Catholic Reserve, adjacent to St. Mary’s Cathedral. The land has been sold to an enterprising timber dealing firm, who will use the depot for a wood stack. Many old memories are attached to the hall, and all the Catholic priests that have resided in Hobart for the last five decades officiated within the wall of St. Peter’s in connection with religions and social functions. Why the Roman Catholic denomination sold the hall has not been made public. Certainly it was in an out of the way place, and its surroundings not of the most attractive nature. For this reason the Primitive Methodist Church, which stood right opposite the hall, was disposed of some months back.
Daily Telegraph, 5 September 1903

From “Centenary Fancy Fair”:
It was known to them all that the object of this fair was to raise funds for the purpose of completing the building which was now rising rapidly in St. Mary’s Cathedral grounds, to be called the Catholic Hall. He was rejoiced to see there was so much sympathy and support given to this good work, which was evidenced by the goodly assemblage before them, and the devotion and interest which were so conspicuous around him. (Hear, hear.) It could not be altogether out of place that he should in a few words give the history of the undertaking they were now assembled to assist. About 50 years ago that revered prelate, Bishop Willson, being desirous of checking intemperance and other vices among the seafaring portion of Hobart, obtained from the Government a grant of land to erect a temperance hall at the wharf, and that had been known for many years as St. Peter’s Hall. As time went on, and circumstances changed, it had been found that the hall was not altogether suited for the purpose for which it was originally intended. For some years past His Grace Archbishop Murphy had been anxious to provide a hall for the same purpose in a more suitable locality, and the building they now saw rising near St. Mary’s Cathedral was the result of his efforts in that direction. It was necessary to provide some £1,200 for that building. The sum of £400 was realised by the sale of the old site, and £100 had been obtained by subscriptions. There remained, therefore, the necessity of collecting £700 before the whole of the cost could be met, and it was hoped that by this fair they would contribute, if not the whole, at least a very large portion of that amount. (Applause.) The new hall will provide a meeting place for the Catholic Young Men’s Society. There would be a library, committee rooms, and all appliances necessary for an institution of that kind, and concerts and entertainments would be given from time to time, under the control of the Archbishop and his clergy. He was sure they would all sympathise with the objects for which this hall was being built, as they were to provide a shelter and refuge for young men from the mischief which Satan finds for idle hands to do.
The Mercury, 12 January 1904

2 thoughts on “St Peter’s Hall, Hobart

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Carol Brill

    April 18, 2020 at 2:07am

    Just Brilliant Monissa – what a great site! Thankyou, Carol Brill.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Monissa Whiteley

      April 18, 2020 at 4:46am

      Thanks 🙂

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