Building the church:
St George’s Church provide a link with the past that we cannot ignore. British settlers began to farm in the area (originally know as Pittwater) in 1808. The first service at Sorell is recorded that the famous Reverend Robert Knopwood nicknamed Bobby at an enquiry conducted by Thomas Bigge. The first headquarters meeting was held in a barn. Many people attended, both free and convict as well as a few children. This was in 1820 in the following year the church was completed they decided to use it as a school house. But in 1823 when the report was submitted it was found that the recommendation had been omitted.
Everyone who died at Sorell prior to 1823 were taken to the St Davids cemetery in Hobart. On the 7th of March 1823 the Reverend Samuel Marsden under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury consecrated a parcel of land and set it aside for ever as a cemetery.
In the month of April of that year the Reverend Knopwood had retired after 19 years to live on his farm at Clarence Plains but he also continued to serve faithfully the church.
The St Georges Church commenced in 1826 at the request of the Reverend William Garrard to rebuild the Church because of its dangers. The builders were set off to do this job and the cost of it all amounted to 800 shillings and 108 shillings for the carpentry work. In 1827 the church was completed all the masonry and materials being furnished by convict labour. The ultimate price of the building was £1,450. The church was built for 600 people, having galleries on three sides to accommodate convicts on muster days.
The first churchwardens were Mr James Gordon P.M of Forcett House and Captain W.H Glover J.P of Horsecroft, Sorell. Mr Gordon and his wife are buried at St Georges cemetery. The year 1832 saw the departure of the Reverend Garrard and the arrival of the Reverend James Norman who served the parish faithfully and well for 35 years. A letter written to J.Morgan, Esq police magistrate dated 9th of April 1835 is continued in the parish file and is in a good site of preservation.
In 1879 the church was pronounced unsafe and the Presbyterians most graciously offered the use of their church in which Anglicans worshipped until 1884 when the new one was built on the same site. It was built to accommodate 215 people at the same time. Reverend C.J Brammel was in charge of the parish. Services were held at Orielton, Wattle hill, Nugent, Kellevie, Bream Creek, Dunalley, Carlton, Forcett, Green Hill, Port Arthur, Cascades, Impression Bay and Wedge bay. Mr Brammell resigned in 1894 after 26 years of service.
On Tuesday 23rd of October 1883 the foundation stone of the new church of St George at Sorell was laid by Bishop Sandford. The bishop celebrated assisted by the Reverend C.J Brammell and Canon Mason and Mr Woolnough who walked from Bellerive and arrived a little after 12:30pm. The proceedings commenced with the 100th psalm, the bishop then standing on the stone delivered an impressive address founded on the words (Do all in the name of lord Jesus). The sum of forty pounds was laid on the stone.
The land and its rectors:
The land grant for the Church consisted of four acres, three roods relating to the area generally know as St George’s Square. The Church is surrounded by Gordon Street, Fitzroy Place, Parsonage Place and Sorell Rivulet. There was also a further eight acres and eight perches surrounded by Pelham Street, Cole Street and the Sorell Rivulet. From speaking to a man with a lot of information, we found out that the Church used to own from the creek near Coles to the hall in Gordon Street.
The original parish took into Coal Valley and the East Coast as far as Bicheno. It was reduced by the formation of the Parishes of Richmond in 1835 and Buckland in 1846. From 1950 the rector also looked after the Parish of Richmond. The Longest serving Rector was the Reverend James Norman from 1832 until 1867.
Conserving the church:
The Church is made out of Stone, corrugated iron and has a gothic style according to some. In the last five years it has had conservation work done with the foundations, and replastering costing around $44,000. The condition is fair and the integrity is intact. The dimensions of the church are 34ft with a depth of 64ft and a height of 18ft.
St.Georges church has a high pitched roof, the windows are tall and multi-paned. There are some structural difficulty and has bad stone deterioration around the base.
Interviewing Andrew Lake
At the moment there is one minister by the name of Andrew Lake. We interviewed Andrew Lake and found out this information:the busiest days of the year are Christmas and Easter, the church is always open on Christmas and Easter day. They have one church bell, which is rang so people know church is starting. The church has about two weddings and seven funerals a year. The decision to build a church probably came from Governor Arthur. He designed it to be big enough to fit everyone in the area including the convicts. The main feature of the church is probably the large Amber windows. There is more than one St. Georges church in Tasmania. Roughly 100 people are buried in the cemetery and about 100 in the columbarium. A Columbarium is place where ashes are placed. Andrew Lake has been the minister for four years.
This report was by two different groups of students: Maddi and Sam, Nicola and Bronte.
Andrew Lake – Phone Interview- 9/7/08
I found the information in a book called ‘Sorell Heritage Study Site Inventory Volume 5’
There is a book called The Shocking history of Sorell by Robert Cox, Sorell Library has a copy for reference but no borrowing.