HERITAGE TREASURES - Church of the Apostles

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Home > Media > News > HERITAGE TREASURES - Church of the Apostles
HERITAGE TREASURES - Church of the Apostles

Surely one of the finest churches in Tasmania is Launceston’s noble Church of the Apostles, whose tall slender spire dominates the southern approach to the city. Its beginnings can be traced to Bishop Willson’s desire that ‘a church thoroughly Catholic in its design and in all its details should be commenced and raised to the glory of God and dedicated to the twelve Apostles – and to be called The Church of the Apostles’. On 15 September 1864 he laid its foundation stone. The first section – nave and aisles – was opened on 17 November 1866 by his successor, Bishop Murphy. Tasmania’s great architect Henry Hunter had drawn up the plans, and it would be his largest church design, although not completed to his drawings.

By the time that work could be taken in hand to complete the church, Hunter had left Hobart for Brisbane, so the task was entrusted to the eminent Launceston architect Alexander North. Bishop Murphy laid the foundation stone on 17 June 1888. North’s section of the church is in a more robust, later nineteenth-century Gothic idiom than Hunter’s chaste earlier work, but both men were such excellent designers that the whole blends together admirably.

Despite the fact that a foundation stone for the tower was laid in May 1889, it would be more than a century before the completed spire would grace the Launceston skyline.

Designed by Melbourne architect Peter Staunton, it too fully respects the work of the earlier architects.

Inside the Church of the Apostles there is much to admire, including fine stained glass, carved woodwork and the original stone high altar. But perhaps the glory of the interior is the largely intact painting and stencilling of its walls, adding to the impression of this wonderful building as a ‘pocket cathedral’.

By Brian Andrews