TRAGIC: Church warden Anthony O’Connell assesses the damage caused by a fire on Tuesday.
TRAGIC: Church warden Anthony O’Connell assesses the damage caused by a fire on Tuesday. Trevor Veale

Church history goes up in flames

COMMUNITY members are counting the cost after a heritage-listed church in Bonville was destroyed by fire earlier this week.

Despite efforts from fire-fighters, the Holy Faith Anglican Church was unable to be saved from a blaze on Tuesday night, taking crews more than two hours to extinguish.

Waking to the tragic news on Wednesday morning, members of the church's congregation were faced with the painful task of assessing the damage.

Church warden Anthony O'Connell said items lost in the fire included paintings, art work and sheet music.

"It's a great loss for so many people in the community," Mr O'Connell said.

"Over the coming weeks we'll be looking at ways of holding a commemorative service for the church."

Constructed in 1923, the Holy Faith Anglican Church was one of the oldest standing structures in the region, commissioned before the outbreak of the First World War.

In October last year, hundreds of people gathered for the centenary of the commissioning - testament to the role the building played within the community.

Former Reverend Jan McLeod was one of the many who was grappling to come to terms with the loss.

"So many people were married and christened here over the years ... it's held a special place in the hearts of the community," she said.

The church also held special significance for nearby residents, including Sam McLeod, who reported the fire on Wednesday.

"We always look out to the churches - it devastates you when you see something local like that destroyed."

Police investigations into the incident are continuing and anyone with information is urged to come forward.

A decision on what will happen to the site rests with the Anglican Diocese of Grafton and Armidale.

TIMELINE

  • 1910 - On November 30, Bonville farmer John Burgess sold the building to the Diocese of Grafton and Armidale for 10 shillings.
  • 1914 - The foundation stone of the church was laid during a service on August 26.
  • 1914-18 - During WWI, planning and building work was carried out, with first class timber used in its construction.
  • 1923 - Construction was completed and Revered John Ashton dedicated and licensed the Church of the Holy Faith on October 21.
  • 1970s - The church building began to fall into disrepair and in 1979 the wooden stumps were replaced with brick piers and electricity was connected.
  • 1994 - The old roof was replaced with new sheeting
  • 2014 - Community members gathered to celebrate the centenary of the church's commissioning
  • 2015 - On July 14, a blaze destroyed the building


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