Friday, 24 August 2012

The Wedding Gift

Dr Matthias Gaunt, who arrived in Van Diemen's Land with his family in 1831. Gaunt was granted 2 500 acres (1 000 hectares) of land on the East Tamar.
He chose not to practise medicine in the colony; instead he planted a vineyard and converted a sawmill to a flour mill. The mill was successful and its flour won a first place at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. Gaunt's success as a miller prompted a visit from Governor Sir John Franklin in 1842, who suffered the indignity of being covered in flour let loose by two of Gaunt's sons from a loft above.
Gaunt is said to have promised his wife Eliza before leaving England that, if there were no church where they settled in the colony, he would build one and name it St Matthias. The result, completed in 1843, is the charming white stone church that overlooks the Tamar at Windermere. Gaunt's gravestone is prominent in the cemetery, along with those of other early East Tamar pioneers. For many years, parishioners living along the Tamar used boats to travel to services at St Matthias Church.
St Matthias is one of Australia's oldest continually used churches and currently is attached to the Parish of Holy Trinity Launceston under the Anglican Church. The Church was awarded the Launceston City Council's Heritage Award for a non-residential building in 2010 for works on the roof and bell tower restoration.

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