Monday, June 26, 2017

Uley Baptist Church, One Tree Hill

The chapel, built on an exposed hilltop with views of hills and valleys that had been cleared for grazing, was opened in 1851.  The chapel land was donated by Moses Bendle Garlick and opened on Thursday March 16th, 1851as a non-denominational chapel.  However it soon became a Baptist church under Rev John Parker Buttfield.   Built of stone it is believed to be among the earliest churches erected in South Australia.

It was opened for divine service on 16th March 1851 with sermons preached in the morning and evening by Rev. G. Stonehouse, North Adelaide and in the afternoon by the Rev. J. P Buttfield.  The following day a tea meeting was held in a spacious booth erected for the purpose and tastefully decorated with flowers and evergreens.
An open air baptistery with stone steps leading down lay about 9 metres from the church entrance.  A random rubble wall about 1.5 metres high encloses the site. The chapel could seat 90 people within its 7.7 x 4.8 walls.  A vestry was constructed 3.7 x 4.8 meters as well as a small porch. The total cost of the chapel was £400.  The random stone walls were plastered, the roof was of slate and concrete floors covered the porch and chapel and a wooden floor in the vestry. 
For some years the church flourished then came to a decline.  In 1876 it was linked up with the church in Gawler under the pastorate of the Rev Samuel Fairey.  Rev Fairey ministered here for four years before departing in 1880 to Parkside.  The church gave up its separate existence and its membership merged with the Gawler Church.
A Sunday school operated at some time as did a week day prayer meeting. Most of the members lived a distance from chapel and the surrounding bad roads made it difficult for people to attend with regularity any evening meetings.

When there was no resident ministers, preachers would travel for the morning and evening services. Lay preachers 1864 – 1866, Rev J.P Buttfield 1866 - , Rev S Fairey 1876 - 1880, Rev S Howard 1881 – 1886.

The chapel relied on rain water collected from the roof and piped into a stone underground tank.  This water would have been used to fill the baptistery and for drinking.  For total water immersion baptisms, water would have been carried to the open air baptistery.

The chapel remained Baptist until 1881 and later used as the headquarters of the Munno Para East Rifles.
A cemetery is also on site with some of the earliest settled names such as Ifould, Clucas, Barritt and Bowman.  The graves are located in the south east corner and the western side.  All graves run east west and all headstones are either of slate, granite, marble concrete, rendered brick or loose quartz stone. The tops of the graves are granite, concrete, gravel or bare earth. 

For the next 40 years, from 1905 it was used by the District Council of Munno Para East, then fell into disuse.  Vandalism and age resulted in the church being demolished in 1980.  The bell from Uley went to Lyndoch church.

History blasted: vandal war ends. 'The Salisbury, Elizabeth, Gawler and Munno Para News Review' 1981 A historic chapel at One Tree Hill has been demolished by explosives because it could not be protected against vandals. The Uley Chapel on Uley Road, which connects Smithfield and the hills north of One Tree Hill, was built by Moses Bendle Garlick in 185l. Vandals have gutted the building, sprayed it with graffiti and obscenities, gouged holes in walls and desecrated graves and head stones in the chapel cemetery. Munno Para District Council spent about $5000 fencing and floodlighting the chapel and graves in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the vandalism. A firm of mining and demolition engineers, Civil and Industrial Group Services Pty, Ltd., was contracted by the council to destroy the church at the weekend. Mr. R. G. Hart, said the demolition work had been a professional contract, but none of those involved had enjoyed it. The firm had taken four hours to drill the church, load the holes with explosives, then blast the building. "It's not the sort of thing we like to go around and do," Mr. Hart said. "It's part of our heritage and yet we had to go and do it as a moral obligation to the families of those buried there. "Unruly elements had been having their screaming parties, writing words you wouldn't dream about, desecrating the graveyard completely, smashing all the headstones and writing obscenities everywhere." "I can't see how people could possibly get any satisfaction from that. Who the hell are we dealing with?" The Munno Para district clerk, Dr. D. K. Wormald said the council would remove the ruins, landscape the area and preserve graves in the cemetery beside it. The stone from the demolished chapel would be used to build a fence around the area. "We were very sorry really we had to do it but in the end we were faced with no alternative," Mr. Wormald said.
One Tree Hill sketchbook

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