History of St. John’s Church, Launceston

The history of St. John’s Church goes right back to the beginnings of European settlement of northern Tasmania in 1804, but is more  properly dated from the appointment of Revd. John Youl as chaplain to Port Dalrymple in 1815. With the building itself commenced in 1824, this represents a very long period of accumulated documents, pictures and other artefacts. The building itself is the largest of those artefacts, and includes a small museum area with items and pictures of past times.

Researching Family History?
The people, of course, are the church, and many Australians, and occasionally people in other countries, have wanted to access records of those people – baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals and burials, to further understand their own family history. To preserve those precious records, a large collection of documents relating to the early history of St. John’s Church, and other Anglican churches, has been digitised by the Tasmanian Government’s library and archive service, Libraries Tasmania, and can be searched online. Follow: Libraries Tasmania Name Index Search. Libraries Tasmania holds extensive church registers from many different centres across several denominations, but much of the archive collection has not been digitised, and particular registers might need to be booked for reading at the Hobart reading room. See Libraries Tasmania – Church registers held by Tasmanian Archives for a catalogue of the register collection.
You are welcome to contact us, using the contact form via the menu at top of this page, to make enquiries about your family connections. If your interest is in-depth historical research on topics related to the churches and people of St. John’s and other churches of the All Saints Anglican Network, it may be possible to arrange (with plenty of advance notice) on-site access to documents under conditions that protect the condition of those documents and the need to respect the privacy of living individuals or the immediate descendants of those from the past.

Our Heritage and History Team is working hard to catalogue and conserve the artefacts and documents held by the church. The linked articles below, along with our website photo galleries, will give some idea of the past, distant and more recent, of St. John’s Church.

A booklet covering the history of St. John’s is available from the church. The following pages also outline our history:

Memorials and Biographies of St. John’s

This very comprehensive collection of Memorials and Biographies – 120 at last count, outlining memorials in St. John’s Church in the form of plaques, windows, furniture and other items, was compiled by well-known Launceston historian, Jenny Gill. In a few cases, the link will take you to an external location such as the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Interactive Church Map (Self-guided Tour)

In normal circumstances, St. John’s Church is open to visitors during office hours – 9 am – 1 pm Monday-Friday. Visitors can use a QR code to link them to this page to allow them to follow a self-guided tour of the church building. Coloured dots on the map will take link the visitor to information associated with particular features – the stained glass windows, memorial plaques and other interesting features.

“Hidden Places” Video Tour

The magnificent and historical church building is usually open to the public on weekdays, but there are areas that not even our own congregation can visit, mainly for safety reasons. Now, you can virtually tour these “hidden places” by playing this video!

We have managed to digitise hundreds of photos relating to our church history – some dating back to the 1860s, as well as a few paintings, the earliest of which appears to date from the 1840s. Many of the images in the photo galleries also have interesting historical information in their captions. Click on the first photo in the gallery to bring it up to viewing size. Captions will appear below the photo. Use your arrow keys to go to the next image.
We are always happy to receive further images relating to the history of St. John’s and other All Saints churches, and will publish them as soon as possible, with acknowledgement of source if desired.

It is not known whether there are any audio recordings made at St. John’s from the “pre-electronic” era – 1880s to 1950s. We would be delighted to be given access to any such recordings, and would digitise them as soon as possible, to link to this website. “Reel to reel” recordings were made of a few services and concerts from the early 1960s onwards, although the technology in use appears to have been very limited. From the early 1980s, sermons were recorded to audio cassette and duplicated as a ministry to those who could no longer attend services through age or infirmity. Only a limited number of those earlier recordings have survived, as the master tapes were wiped for further use, but our collection is reasonably good from the mid 1990s, and from the early 2000s, we have an almost complete record of Sunday sermons through to the present day. From 2014, we have also made video recordings of Sunday sermons.

Follow Sermons to find our collection of recorded sermons.
Use the search options at the top of the page
eg Start Date 1980, End Date 1990 (and click on the Filter>> button to apply your search).

Our earliest extant audio recordings:

During 2017, two sermon series preached by Revd. Ernest Horth in 1984
were also acquired and added to the collection. Use the search function mentioned above.

Other websites:
Ferguson and Urie – Colonial Victoria’s Historic Stained Glass Craftsmen 1853-1899
(and our particular Ferguson and Urie window) –  St John’s Anglican Church, Launceston