About us > Conservation activities
St Patrick's Church, Colebrook, Tasmania
This historic church in the Coal River valley, Southern Tasmania, is the Pugin Foundation's flagship project in conserving Pugin’s Australian heritage. Designed in 1843 and constructed in 1855-56, it was Pugin's last work to be built, and that posthumously. Over a period of one and a half centuries leading up to the Foundation's intervention the building suffered the loss of its historic environs and its unique triple bellcote, and became in need of a range of structural and other remediation.
About St Patrick's
- It is uniquely different from any of Pugin's English or Irish churches.
- It was designed to be built by craftsmen with rudimentary skills.
- It was one of only two of his buildings constructed from scale models rather than drawings.
- Its detailed carved stonework was copied from exemplars brought out from England in 1844 by Pugin's close friend Bishop Willson.
- It is one of just seven of his Catholic churches anywhere with their rood screen still intact and in situ.
- It is of international significance in relation to the transmission of developments in nineteenth-century design.
- In art-historical terms it is without doubt the most significant building in Tasmania.
St Patrick's Church, Colebrook, is a perfect paradigm for Pugin's theories which would directly influence Australia's Gothic Revival cathedrals and churches. It is amongst the finest jewels in the crown of the patrimony of the Catholic Church in Australia.
We acknowledge with gratitude the following organisations and individuals for their funding assistance in the conservation of St Patrick's Church:
The Tasmanian Heritage Council
Listen to the sound of St Patrick's bells ringing out one of ten old French bell melodies that they play each day at 2pm.
Download the video clip(asf/2.6MB)
Conservation Results to Date
A major conservation program has resulted in the completion of critical works to St Patrick’s Church. These works have ensured the structural stability of the fabric and the windows, have reinstated key damaged or missing elements including the rood screen and the triple bellcote, and will stand the building in good stead for the next century.
View a photo gallery of the church as at the second half of 2009.
What we are doing at Colebrook
A Conservation Management Plan, based on internationally-recognised standards for the conservation of historic places, was prepared for St Patrick’s Church in 2005. This was followed in 2007 by a Landscape Conservation Management Plan dealing with the environs of the building. The policies set out in these documents are guiding the Foundation’s activities at Colebrook.
Identified works included:
- Restoration of the rood screen
- Conservation of the furnishings
- Rehabilitation of the floors
- Structural remediation including substantial stiffening
- Conservation of the windows
- Reinstatement of the triple bellcote
- Production and installation of three bells
- New wiring and internal lighting
- New guttering and downpipes
- Repainting of the interior
- Production and installation of interpretive material & signage
- Re-integration of the cemetery with the church
- Judicious reinstatement of the historic environment
What we have completed
- The rood screen was removed from the church in March 2006, fully restored and reinstalled on 14 December 2006. This and other conservation works are being assisted through a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund Board. View a gallery of the rood screen re-installation.
- The triple bellcote was reconstructed in 2007, including the installation of a peal of three bells. The first official ringing of the bells took place on 18 November 2007. View a gallery of the bellcote reconstruction.
- All 21 original crown glass windows have been conserved. View a gallery of the windows conservation.
- The chancel furnishings have been conserved and the chancel floor has been rehabilitated. View a gallery of chancel furnishings
- An interpretive panel has been designed, produced and installed on the north aisle west wall. View the interpretive panel. (pdf/837k)
- The building has been completely re-wired and new indirect lighting installed.
- Substantial structural strengthening has been completed.
- The roofs, flashings, guttering and downpipes have been replaced.
- The interior has been re-plastered and re-painted in its original colour scheme.
- The floors have been completely rehabilitated and carpet runners laid.
- There has been a selective re-planting in their original locations of trees as shown in historic photographs of the church..
How you can help with this exciting project to fully re-animate Pugin's antipodean vision
The current situation
- The Foundation has already raised over $750,000 for its operations which include the major project at Colebrook.
- Total cost of the Colebrook works is estimated to be some $670,000.
- Around $166,000 is still being sought to complete the Colebrook project.
Selected works still needing financial support
- Stonework conservation
- Conservation of the north clerestory windows
- Conservation of the chancel east window
- Reinstatement of the perimeter fence & gates
- New sacristy furniture
- Building and installation of a small single manual pipe organ. Such an instrument would enable concert recitals to be held as a means of fund-raising for ongoing maintenance of the building.
What can you do to help?
You can donate towards the cost of all or part of any of the above works. Your name would be permanently associated with the chosen work through inscription on a donor's list to be mounted in the church upon completion of the project. The Foundation has established a tax-deductible gift fund, called the Pugin Foundation Appeal, through the National Trust of Australia (Tasmania), and it is as easy as downloading the form below, filling it in and sending it with your generous contribution. Addressing details are on the form.