St. John the Baptist Church, Buckland
Since leaving Swansea and on the last leg of our journey, we had been keeping a sharp eye open for a church in Buckland that was built in the mid 19th century. After zooming by it because it was right on the highway and we were traveling 100 km/hr, we drove for a good 5 minutes before we found a suitable place to turn around. We were not aided in this by the fact that the car behind us was a copper and so we couldn’t exactly take any chances that we would be making an unwise turn around on the highway. Finally, we find our way back.
The church exterior was pretty with sandstone walls and fence, old heavy door with a doorknob that took us a while to figure out, and an interesting statue of John the Baptist, baptizing Jesus. The interior was like many other churches that we had seen – far too “modern” to be interesting. However, it did have some lovely stained glass windows.
14th Century or 19th Century Window – Which Is It?
While the church itself, although pretty, was not anything out of the ordinary as far as mid 19th century churches go (other than it being modeled after the Cookham Dean in Sussex, England), we were eager to see the fabled 14th century window in its place of prominence. After a little research, I have discovered that while it is possible that this window is indeed 14th century (brought over from England by the first Chaplain, Rev. Fox), it is just as likely that it was made in England in the 1840’s shortly before Rev. Fox set out for Tasmania.
In any case, it is a window of interest because of the graphic detail in the right panel. Here, Salome is being presented with the freshly severed head of John the Baptist. Notice that his body on the ground is still spurting blood like a fountain.
Leaving the church we continue to travel the Convict Trail, until we arrive at Richmond.
23 kilometers northeast of Hobart, Richmond is probably the prettiest town that I have ever seen and a great place to spend the day. Over 50 original Georgian style buildings line the 19 century streets and are still in use as restaurants, shops, galleries, and accommodations.
The aboriginal dolls shown above are quite common in toy stores – particularly in tourist areas.
As I said before, wood products are very popular purchases in Tasmania because of the well developed artisan wood industry which uses indigenous and sometimes rare woods. The handwritten notice in the picture above says, “These boxes were purchased by Camilla duchess of Cornwall when she visited in 2012.”
It was a very pleasant day, perfect for exploring along the river, side streets and old churches. As I said, this is a really pretty town with sandstone buildings, steeples churches, a pleasant river running underneath an ancient bridge, and it is even bordered by vineyards.
I really enjoyed spending some hours here, and finally managed to eat the much touted delicious scallop pies that Tasmania is famous for, which are sold in fine bakeries for $6. They are full of scallops in a creamy curry sauce.
Although we did not purchase a ticket to enter, Richmond Gaol* is the oldest gaol* in Australia. (*pronounced “jail” – in my head I always say “gay-ole” – haha)
Constructed from 1823-1825, this Heritage Listed bridge, located along the Convict Trail in Richmond, Tasmania, was built using convict labor. Made of locally mined sandstone, it is the oldest stone span bridge still in use in Australia.
Murder of George Grover
An interesting story that goes along with the bridge is the one of the murder of George Grover, who was the unpopular gaoler (translation: jailer) responsible for overseeing (flogging) the convicts. He was a brutal man, and when he was pushed off the edge of the bridge after drunkenly falling asleep, no one was convicted of his murder. In general, all over Australia during the convict years, there was a very fine line between the behavior of the convicts and those who were charged with overseeing them. Often those overseers rose from the ranks of the convicts themselves, and were put in charge because of their brutality and ability (willingness) to enforce “the law.”
Soon to come – Hobart and Surrounds