The Church at Campbell Town is centrally located in “The Heart of Tasmania” on the historic Midlands Highway. Pantukina/Campbell Town is a well known stop for those travelling between Launceston and Hobart.
The Church structure was built in 1857 with solid sandstone and stands tall on the high side of the property with its magnificent tall spire and Victorian gothic charm making it a standout of history, beauty and is a significant structure for the township and Tasmania.
Many Scottish immigrants settled in Campbell Town and surround areas, looking for opportunities to farm and improve their lives.
The Church was built by funds raised by the Scottish immigrants in the area who wanted a Presbyterian Church. A Scottish immigrant, Dr Adam Turnbull was significant if having The Church built and was the Presbyterian Minister here for many years until his death at home in Campbell Town in 1891. Dr Adam Turnbull was also a medical Doctor, anti-transportationist, landowner, Member of Upper House of Parliament, Public Servant and Surgeon.
The 1.5 acre property is surrounded by a white picket fence and heritage-listed old elm trees, approximately 115 years old. Since the current owners purchased the property, a further 800+ trees, shrubs and plants have been planted around the property to enhance the grounds and gardens
We want to be as responsible and sustainable as possible so the “working end” (the southern end which is fenced off) of our property contains. In addition to beautification gardens, there are nine garden plots for growing herbs, strawberries and vegetables used in our onsite kitchen and bar. We don’t use any pesticides on this produce.
We also have approximately 15 chickens and two German Shepherd dogs, who love eating kitchen scraps. Our chickens become free range after we close, being able to scratch and bugs around the southern end of the property. The dogs can roam the full northern end of the property after hours, so they have more room to run and guard the property.
What can’t be eaten by our animals are composted in one of our 3 large composting bays, along with bridgeable packaging and once suitable, these then fertilize our gardens. Other packaging items are sorted and recycled weekly at an offsite recycling station.
We sure do, so here some more information for the history buffs with a report on The Church as written by Heritage Tasmania, with our notes added.
The former Presbyterian Church at 55 High Street is situated in the northern Tasmanian township of Campbell Town, located on the historic Midland Highway.
The site is a triangular parcel of land of approx. 1.5 acres, dotted with historic Elm trees and located at the main egress/ingress into the historic town.
The site is an important visual landmark on the edge of the township, on the busiest highway in the state.
The former Campbell Town Presbyterian Church comprises two main buildings – the 1857 sandstone church building and the 1955 Adam Turnbull Hall. Both buildings are located in a mature parkland setting, which contributes to the historic heritage significance of the place.
A collection of artefacts provenanced to the main church building also forms part of the Heritage Tasmania registration.
1857 former St Andrews Presbyterian Church:
Set on the peak of the hill, the former St Andrews Church is a sandstone Victorian Academic Gothic building comprising tower with steep pitch and tower crenellations, corrugated iron gabled roof, boxed eaves, buttresses, pointed arch windows of stain glass, and prominent quoins and architraves.
Entry is via a landmark square tower with blank clock face. The spire is octagonal in shape. The interior of the main church building contains fine examples of stained-glass work, arched ceiling with decorative ceiling roses and wooden floorboards. Original interior doors, entrance flagstones, cornices and skirting boards contribute to the representative character of the style of the building. A representative sample of boxed pews has been retained with the building.
CURRENTLY: The Church is structurally sound and has received numerous restoration and repair works. Including but not limited to full restoration of the stained glass window at the eastern end of The Church. 3 smashed frosted glass windows replaced with clear. Repairs to the floor, where some foundation timbers had rotted. Repairs to the ceiling, where a ceiling rose had fallen. Fully painted internally, vegetation and pigeon debris removed from the spire, electrical work and lighting installed, antique furniture which is already purchased displayed and used, and generally cleaned, plus historic information displayed in an animated slide show reflected on the internal church walls to educate locals and tourists of the historic story of The Church, Campbell Town and surrounding areas.
A number of artefacts provenanced to the former main church building are considered of heritage significance, providing an understanding of the evolution of worship in a rural community, and the meaning such places had to the region.
This registration includes the following elements:
CURRENTLY: All these artifacts have been held in will and good condition by us and now the public are able to view them in The Church building. Prior to opening they have not been accessible or viewed for over 25 years, since The Church was lastly used as a religious gathering place.
(i) Marble plaque commemorating the Rev. Adam Turnbull;
(ii) Memorial plaque commemorating the Gibson family by Tasmanian woodcarver, cement modeller and artist WG (Gordon) Cumming, c1938. This work was based on Gustave Dore’s engraving ‘Boat of Souls’ (pers. comm., H. Cumming, 2013);
Granite sculpture, Head of Christ
(iii) Granite sculpture, Head of Christ, by Kalanabertzins c1956;
Honour roll board
(iv) 1914-1918 carved wooden honour roll board;
(v) Altar, also known as the Bishops’ Chair;
Cedar collection box
(vi) Double handed cedar collection box; and
Blackwood collection plate
(vii) Blackwood collection plate, gilt-engraved in memory of WH Thollar, killed during WW1.
1955 Adam Turnbull Hall:
Located on the lower side of the site, this concrete block single-storey hall building uses fabric and form sympathetic to the original design of the main church building. The structure comprises a gabled roof with short sheet corrugated iron, an entrance porch with similarly gabled roof and
pointed sash windows with gothic influences. The external envelope of this building is of interest to this registration, contributing to the wider setting of the church grounds.
The interior of the hall is not considered of interest to this registration and is therefore exempt from works application approval.
CURRENTLY: The inside of the Hall has been substantially renovated in 2020 and is now the home of the property owners and comprises of an open plan living, dining & completely new and relocated kitchen in the main hall area. 2 renovated bedrooms. A completely new bathroom, laundry and toilet. Plus new large decked outdoor/indoor living area. Having onsite residents greatly improves the care and security of the site as a whole.
The parkland/garden setting of both the church and hall are considered of high heritage significance for its historic and aesthetic values, and as a contributing element to an important landmark on a major Tasmanian thoroughfare.
A wooden picket fence, evident in 1908, has been removed (Weekly Courier 18 June 1908:18). A number of elm and other trees form a perimeter along the border of the parcel of land. Although individually these trees are not considered of particular importance, as a suite of historic plantings they are considered of heritage significance, adding to the character of the site.
CURRENTLY: A 390m white picket fence has been erected around the perimeter of the property significantly improving the overall site and increasing the security of The Church and grounds. Approx. 250 screening shrubs and trees have been planted around the inside fence perimeter, as well 4 Mount Fuji feature trees to define the outdoor wedding iasle, 2 Magnolia trees in the centre of the rose gardens, approx. 65 highly fragrant roses planted, a lavender garden, agapanthus around the external perimeter of the fence, 9 vegetable plots, a chicken coop, pathways and general landscaping of significant improvement. Prior to the current owners there was not one plant or garden on the property besides the large surrounding elm trees.
Named by Governor Macquarie in 1821, Campbell Town prospered because of adjoining successful sheep farms, and its situation on the main thoroughfare between Hobart and Launceston.
Convict labour is most evident in the historic town in the Red Bridge and large number of surviving Georgian and Victorian buildings.
The local agricultural show has been held since 1839 and is said to be the longest continual running show in the Commonwealth.
As early as 1821 European settlers had begun to organise for the establishment of reformed services in Van Diemen’s Land. As many of the early settlers were of Scottish origin, Scottish Presbyterian ministers were sought. Following Hobart, the first Presbyterian church to be built in the colony was on the Macquarie River in c1836, the present Kirklands Church. It was almost two decades before a more substantial Presbyterian church, now the former St Andrews Church at 55 High Street, was erected in Campbell Town, in 1857. NOTE: Now know as “The Church”.
The Anglican Church had an early presence in Campbell Town, erecting a church in the late 1830s, while the Methodist congregation had erected their modest Chapel by 1839. In July 1856 tenders were called for the erection of a Presbyterian church, said to have been largely the initiative of medical practitioner, public servant and minister Rev. Adam Turnbull, who had spent two decades in Hobart Town holding various government positions. His energy and connections are largely attributed with the erection of St Andrews. The foundation stone was laid at the end of 1856.
St Andrews Church was designed by Thomson & Cookney, architects of Hobart. Cookney, as a free man, had been appointed Colonial Architect of New South Wales aged only 26, and by the age of 41 after a conviction for receiving stolen goods, was working on road gangs in Tasmania. During his time in the island colony, Cookney was assigned to ex-convict architect, JA Thomson.
The pair collaborated for over a decade, including designs for Catholic churches in Hobart and Launceston and the Jewish synagogue in Hobart.
It was FW Thomson and Cookney who were responsible for the design of St Andrews Church in Campbell Town, which according to one architectural historian displayed little advance from designs of 16 years previously.
In 1863 a JC Bishop pipe organ was installed in the church, said to be the largest organ in Australia built before 1850 by JC Bishop to survive unaltered.
The organ was removed from the church in recent decades and now forms part of the National Trust of Australia (Tasmania) collection.
The land on which the main church was constructed remained virtually untouched until the congregation determined the need for a hall after World War II. The foundation stone for a new hall was laid in 1955, named in honour of Rev. Adam Turnbull, proponent of the original church building. It appears this building was also used as a schoolroom (National Trust, 1966:29).
In 1977 the Uniting Church was established through the amalgamation of the Methodist and the majority of the Presbyterian and Congregational Churches in Tasmania. Stabilisation work was undertaken to the spire of the main church building in 1981, with a grant from the National Estate.
Steel rods were to be inserted, although it is unclear if this work was actually undertaken. In 2002 the Synods of Tasmania and Victoria merged, the Uniting Church continuing its commitment to social justice, liturgical renewal, ecumenical relationships and pastoral care to this day (Smith, in Alexander (ed.) 2006:372).
In 2010 the Campbell Town buildings were deconsecrated and sold to a private buyer. Although no longer a church, the buildings and plantings on site remain an important visual marker on the Midland Highway.
CURRENTLY: The Church was resold to the current owners, Garry & Nicole Graham in 2014. Due to the strong Scottish history and significance of the town, residence and minister Turnbull, we have branded The Church “Where Scotland & Tasmania Meet” and will educate and display it’s strong Scottish history which also ties in with both of us current owners also coming from Scottish heritage.
Statement of Significance:
The former St Andrews Presbyterian Church at 55 High Street, Campbell Town, is of historic cultural heritage significance as it demonstrates the pattern of settlement in the Northern Midlands district, and the role of established religion in developing social and spiritual hubs in regional settlements across Tasmania. The 1857 Church building is demonstrative of the Victorian Academic Gothic style , while the 1955 hall reflects utilitarian architecture in use after World War Two. The 1857 Church building and it park-like setting has meaning to the Tasmanian community as a landmark on the Midland Highway and the main church building has a special association with the architectural firm, Thomson and Cookney, who were responsible for ecclesiastical architecture in both the north and south of the state.
The Heritage Council may enter a place in the Heritage Register if it meets one or more of the following criteria from the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995:
The former St Andrews Presbyterian Church at 55 High Street, Campbell Town, is an important element in demonstrating the evolutionary pattern of the Northern Midlands district. It reflects the role of worship, and in particular, the role of established religion in developing social and spiritual hubs in regional settlement across Tasmania. Erected in the 1850s, the former Presbyterian Church’s presence on the site is an historic record of Campbell Town’s religious life, demonstrating aspects of the community’s development and growth.
a) The place is important to the course or pattern of Tasmania’s history.
b) The place possesses uncommon or rare aspects of Tasmania’s history.
c) The place has the potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Tasmania’s history.
d) The former St Andrews Presbyterian Church at 55 High Street, Campbell Town, reflects the principal characteristics of the Victorian Academic Gothic ecclesiastical building through the use of a landmark tower, steeply pitched roof and tower crenellations. The choice of stone as building material and the Victorian Academic Gothic architectural style of the main church building harks back to the early phase of Campbell Town’s development, when local stone was the dominant building material. The use of concrete bricks for the Adam Turnbull Hall also demonstrates the economical utilitarian post-war design, built in 1955 during the period of post-war austerity.
The place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of place in Tasmania’s history.
e) The place is important in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement.
f) The former St Andrews Presbyterian Church at 55 High Street, Campbell Town, has meaning to the Tasmanian community as a marker on the Midland Highway, the main thoroughfare between the state’s two major cities, Hobart and Launceston. The historic town has traditionally been used as a rest stop during travel, and its heritage buildings and historic plantings as a result are imprinted in the minds of Tasmanians and tourists alike.
The place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social or spiritual reasons.
g) The place has a special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in Tasmania’s history.
The former St Andrews Presbyterian Church at 55 High Street, Campbell Town, has a special association with the Rev. Adam Turnbull, the minister and government official largely responsible for galvanising the fundraising effort to erect the building, and who later served as its minister for over two decades and was commemorated in a marble plaque in the building. The former St Andrews Church also has an association with the architectural firm Thomson and Cookney, responsible for Catholic Churches in Launceston and Hobart and the Jewish Synagogue in Hobart.
h) The place is important in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics.
The site is an important visual landmark on the edge of the township, on the busiest highway in the state.
We welcome you to enjoy our property, respect it’s past and look forward to it’s future.
Autobiography – Adam Turnbull – First Minister of The Church.
Turnbull, Adam (1803–1891)
by Lex Finlay Biography – Adam Turnbull – Australian Dictionary of Biography (anu.edu.au)
Birth: 4 November 1803 Buccleuch, Mid-Lothian, Scotland
Death: 17 June 1891 Campbell Town, Tasmania, Australia
Cultural Heritage: Scottish
Religious Influence: Presbyterian
- Member of Upper House
- Presbyterian minister
- Public servant
This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967
Adam Turnbull (1803-1891), medical practitioner, public servant and Presbyterian minister, was born on 4 November 1803 at Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, the eldest son of Dr Adam Turnbull, who served as a surgeon in the 57th Regiment in the American wars and in 1800-10 was medical officer at Edinburgh Castle under the command of his friend, Earl Moira, and his wife Susan(na), née Bayne, who went to New South Wales as a widow in 1819 and to Van Diemen’s Land in 1823.
Adam Turnbull junior was educated at Edinburgh High School and obtained the degree of M.D. in that city before he was 21. He married Margaret, daughter of George Young, of Tolcross, Edinburgh. In 1824 the Colonial Office promised him a land grant in Van Diemen’s Land, and with his wife and three brothers he arrived at Hobart Town in the City of Edinburgh on 13 April 1825. With them were members of his wife’s family and mutual friends, the Murrays. They all settled in the Campbell Town district, where Turnbull named his property Winton, after the estate of a relation, Sir James Sandilands, whose bequest had provided the capital which entitled him to a grant.
In 1827 he became a partner of James Reid in a whisky distillery near Campbell Town, but the partnership was dissolved late in 1828 when Turnbull entered the Colonial Medical Service as assistant surgeon in the Richmond district, leaving a younger brother, Francis Moira, in charge of Winton. Late in 1829 Turnbull began private practice in Campbell Street, Hobart. In 1831 when John Montagu returned from England and was moved from post to post by Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur, Turnbull was appointed assistant surgeon, for which he received half-pay while he also acted temporarily as private secretary to Arthur, clerk of the Legislative and Executive Councils and colonial treasurer, sharing the salary of these offices with Montagu. Under Sir John Franklin’s administration Turnbull continued to fill vacant positions in the public service, and he was responsible for writing many of the lieutenant-governor’s dispatches. In the events leading to Montagu’s dismissal in 1842 Turnbull had the invidious task of mediating between him and Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin, and although unsuccessful he retained the personal confidence of both parties.
Turnbull was recommended to the Colonial Office by Arthur and Franklin for permanent public employment but notions of retrenchment prevailed in the 1840s, although in 1847 he was appointed a member of the Land Commission and chairman of the Caveat Board. He also continued to act from time to time as clerk of the councils and colonial treasurer. Outside his official duties he became a vice-president of the Mechanics’ Institute, where he lectured on chemistry and other subjects. On 15 January 1845 he chaired the inaugural meeting of the Hobart Savings Bank and became an original member of the board. In 1847 he was an elder of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and superintendent of its Sunday school.
In 1851 when the Legislative Council became part-elective Turnbull was appointed an official member and also acted as clerk of the Executive Council. Like many other colonists he was deeply exercised over the need for free immigration, the continued transportation of convicts, and the shortage of labour caused by the Victorian gold discoveries. The activities of the Anti-Transportation League ensured the return of several members to the new Legislative Council, although Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Denison was bitterly opposed to their views. In September 1852 some of the elected members gave notice of motion of an address to the Queen requesting the cessation of convict transportation to the colony. Turnbull informed Denison that he favoured the motion and with another nominee, Henry Samuel Chapman, tendered his resignation from the council. The lieutenant-governor refused the resignation, and in due course Turnbull voted for the motion, which was carried. Denison angrily maintained that Turnbull as a public servant had no right to vote against the government. In spite of his vigorous defence in memorials, in the Executive Council and at the bar of the Legislative Council, and authorization from London of his appointment as colonial secretary Turnbull was deprived of all his offices and of his right to a pension after twenty years’ service.
This was a severe material blow to Turnbull and his family, but less than two years later he was in service again, having been ordained a Presbyterian minister and inducted to the charge of Campbell Town-Tunbridge. Through his energy and help, and with the backing of his congregation, the fine St Andrew’s Church was built in Campbell Town. As its minister ‘the Doctor’ showed the same zeal for truth and courteousness as he had displayed in the public service. He had high moral principles and a sincere Christian faith. After a controversy in the Tasmanian Presbytery in 1863 had been carried to the Supreme Court and a ministerial colleague, Rev. J. Storie, had been dismissed, Turnbull pleaded his case before the presbytery each year until 1870 when Storie was reinstated. The chief justice, Sir Lambert Dobson, feelingly recorded Turnbull’s calm, dignified and unruffled bearing throughout the case.
Turnbull resigned from the ministry in 1875 and in his retirement could look back on a full and fruitful life. He was still interested in the land, for as well as owning Winton, he had other Tasmanian properties by grant and lease, and in Victoria he held Dundas, Mount Koroite and Winnimburn stations in the name of Adam Turnbull & Son. In 1884 he and his wife celebrated their diamond wedding. He died in Campbell Town on 17 June 1891.
Historical Records of Australia, series 3, vols 4, 5
- Heyer, The Presbyterian Pioneers of Van Diemen’s Land (Launceston, 1935)
- A. Townsley, The Struggle for Self-Government in Tasmania 1842-1856 (Hob, 1951)
CSO 1 & 5 (Archives Office of Tasmania).