Hadspen parishoners rally to save historic church from sale

The Anglican Church is facing pressure not to sell a historic church at Hadspen with links to Mary Reibey who is depicted on the $20 note.

Lyons Labor MHA Jen Butler said the Church of the Good Shepherd should not be sold because of its unique history.

Local parishioner Monica Murfet also wants to save the church.

Ms Butler said the church grounds contained the remains of descendants of Mary Reibey, a convict and later businesswoman whose contribution to Australia was considered so important she was depicted on the $20 note.

She said Mrs Reibey was a pioneering merchant ship owner and trader who, after being deported to Australia as a convict for stealing a horse in 1792, was now considered historically significant as a role model for women in business.

“It was Mary Reibey who purchased 2000 acres of land in Tasmania in 1811, later to become Entally Estate, and her grandson Thomas was the Premier – this is important history that needs protection,” Ms Butler said.

“It’s outrageous that the church is prepared to sell off history rather than protect it.

“The Hadspen community is rightly up in arms and does not want this church sold.”

Thomas Reibey, who was born in 1821 at Hadspen, is buried in the church grounds.

Mr Reibey was Tasmanian Premier from 1876 to 1877, Speaker of the House of Assembly and MP until 1903.

Ms Butler said the sale was not about the church’s redress scheme but rather a “money grab”.

Mrs Murfet, a parishioner for the past 20 years said she was saddened by the sale of the church and wanted its sale reconsidered.

She said she had written to the church on two occasions but had had no response.

“You really feel the spirit in the church,” Mrs Murfet said.

“When you walk into the church it feels like you are being wrapped around in it. It is so peaceful.”

Mrs Murfet said the church was built by the Reibey family and its loss was a blow to the local community.

“It is a landmark and it is very sad because it is a beautiful church,” she said.

“Members of the Reibey family are buried six or eight feet from the front door and I know of one lady who comes from Hobart to visit the graves of her parents and brother.

“What price can you put on this beautiful old bluestone church?”

Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, the Right Reverend Dr Richard Condie, said the Church of the Good Shepherd was not currently on the open market.

“We recognise that churches with cemeteries hold significant value within local communities,” Bishop Condie said.

“For church properties that are to be sold, we will prioritise solutions that enable these properties to be used by and for members of the local community into the future.

“Like many church buildings the Church of Good Shepherd has heritage value.

“We will work with the Tasmanian Heritage Council through the sale process of our heritage church properties.”

Bishop Condie said the sale of any church with a cemetery would occur in accordance with the requirements of the Burial and Cremation Act 2002.

(Sue Bailey - The Examiner  JANUARY 23 2019)