HERITAGE TREASURES

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HERITAGE TREASURES

By Brian Andrews, Archdiocese of Hobart Heritage Officer.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church, a jewel in the crown of the Archdiocese of Hobart, is located in the rural township of Westbury in a fertile district of northern Tasmania. Dominating the main street, it is a large cruciform Gothic building constructed from bluestone with sandstone dressings, all sourced locally, and is over 30 metres long internally, with a substantial clock tower abutting the nave north wall. It was begun in 1869 and opened in 1874. The reason for such an ambitious structure is because in the nineteenth century the two Tasmanian settlements with the largest percentage of Catholics were Richmond in the south and Westbury in the north. It was designed by Henry Hunter (1832–1892), Tasmania’s most prolific nineteenth-century architect, and opened in 1874 minus the top two stages of the clock tower which were added in 1901 to the design of noted Hobart Arts and Crafts architect Alan Cameron Walker (1864–1931) who had trained in Hunter’s practice. Most of the quality stained glass in the church is contemporary with its opening, an exception being two windows in the south transept which date from the first decade of the twenty-first century. These latter, by Sydney artist Lance Feeney, with their sparkling character depicting St Mary of the Cross and St Columba, are after the manner of the celebrated Irish stained glass artist Harry Clarke (1889–1931), and celebrate the original Irish character of the settlement.

There is much to admire in Holy Trinity Church. Amongst its treasures are an exceptionally fine carved Oamaru, New Zealand, sandstone altar of 1888 designed by the eminent Launceston Art and Crafts architect Alexander North (1858–1945), rivalling his high altar in the Church of the Apostles, Launceston, and a c.1880 pipe organ, one of just six in the Archdiocese of Hobart.  This instrument is by the Melbourne organ builder William Anderson (1832–1921) and is amongst the few surviving original works of its maker. The ornate decoration on the façade pipes is by Henry Hunter, based on designs from Pugin’s highly influential 1844 publication, Glossary of Ecclesiastical Ornament and Costume, a copy of which Hunter is known to have possessed.