Christian Faith

The Christian faith in Beecroft and Cheltenham.

As discussed elsewhere on this web site, along what is now Pennant Hills Road the earliest European contact in this locality took place with a number of farms being established. In the 1790s the largest of these farms belonged to John Macarthur but neighbouring this farm around the Thompson Corner locality were a group of farms occupied by Samuel Marsden, Rowland Hassall, William Lawry and Francis Oakes. Because these men were Christian missionaries or clergy the congregation of these grants became known as “Missionary Corner.” These men were denominationally mostly either (in contemporary language) Anglican or Methodist. While these farms were owned by these men none of them had their home there.

To the east of these farms, heading along modern day Pennant Hills Road to near the current day reservoir, a government timber getting establishment was constructed from 1816. Convicts who were housed here harvested timber across the district but particularly throughout Beecroft. At its largest, 102 men lived on site in 1820. In 1819 the convicts in their own time, built a chapel (able to contain 150 people) and one of their number, George Horne, conducted services. Any preacher who visited was allowed to use the chapel and it is known that Revs Thomas Hassall and Walter Lawry did so. It is therefore possible that a Presbyterian or Congregational elder may also have done so. The establishment closed in 1831.

George Horne (1796-1852) had arrived as a convict aboard the Recovery in 1819. He had been convicted to 14 years transportation at the Assize at Kingston Upon Thames on 29 March 1819 and was then imprisoned on the hulk Justitia at Woolwich. At the time of his trial he was described as a house painter born in Yarmouth. He is described as a school teacher at Dundas in 1825 and then from 1826 to 1839 at Narellan. When he was granted his Ticket of Leave in 1828 he ceased being an assigned servant (at some stage working directly to Governor Macquarie) and instead became a school teacher for Thomas Hassall. In the following year, 1829 he married Elizabeth Partridge (1813-1861). He was 33 and she 18 years. He built an estate at Bargo and owned an inn there. An obituary of his daughter, says that her grandfather had been Dr George Horne, Dean of Canterbury and Bishop of Norwich [1].

The earliest church building in Beecroft was opened for worship in 1891 when the first building at St John’s Church of England was opened on the south east corner of Hannah Street and Beecroft Road, then in 1895 with the Methodist Church building, in 1908 the Presbyterians, in 1913 the Brethren and finally in 1930 the Congregational. Each of these places of worship in Beecroft (unlike those in neighbouring Cheltenham) continue until the present day.

At various times the Catholic Church has celebrated Mass in Beecroft, the Society of Friends (Quakers) have held meetings and the Buddhists have (at least) owned land.

[1]        See Biographical Register of Australia (accessed 27 September 2021 and Molong Express 30 July 1943 p6. His granddaughter was, according to this obituary a Baptist most of her life. The last reference was kindly supplied by Judy Brodie.