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Photographer's Note

Port Arthur Church is part of the old convict ruins from the era of 'Van Diemens Land' (named by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman). The wooden roof was destroyed in a bushfire over a century ago, & only the stone work remains.

"The foundation stone of the substantial church of cruciform plan, 32m x 19m, was laid on 25 April 1836.[38] It is thought to have been completed in 1837, as were most of the buildings excepting the convict hospital (1842) and the four-storey Penitentiary (1848). Other buildings included cottages for the prison governor, doctors, hospital supervisor, and other officials; a powder magazine and administration offices (1835); lunatic asylum; the cruciform Separate Treatment (Model) Prison with three of its wings containing cells and the fourth a chapel.[39] The church was not consecrated to any particular denomination, but at first was used by all. Later a place of worship was created for Roman Catholic prisoners in a room in the former Granary which had been converted to a Penitentiary in 1857.[40]

Transportation of prisoners from England to Tasmania ceased in 1853 and the number of convicts at Port Arthur gradually reduced until the settlement was abandoned as a gaol in September 1877.[41] It was officially renamed Carnarvon, possibly after the Colonial Secretary, Lord ("Twitters") Carnarvon.[42] The first sale of Crown land on the site was made on 28 December 1877. An attempt was made on 12 March 1889 to auction buildings and land; the Model Prison and Superintendent's cottage were bought by Revd J B W Woolnough.[43] The tourist potential of the former gaol was soon recognised and today it remains as preserved ruins.

David Burn, who visited Port Arthur in 1842 described the church:

The Church at Port Arthur is a beautiful, spacious, hewn-stone edifice, cruciform in shape with pinnacled tower and gables. Internally it is simple but neatly fitted... There is no organ, but a choir has been selected from among the convicts, who chant psalms with considerable effect.[44]


On 29 February 1884 sparks from a nearby fire ignited the church roof and left only the walls standing. A bushfire on 28 January 1895 gutted the Hospital, the Model Prison and smaller buildings."

Source: http://avoca.vicnet.net.au/~ohta/document/articles/PortArthur.html

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Additional Photos by Chris Jules (ChrisJ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 17140 W: 1065 N: 37717] (171172)
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