Photographs by © Ray Brown (all rights reserved). These and the description are adapted, with kind permission, from his entry on the church's stained glass in Stained Glass Australia: Historical Stained Glass Windows, and have been reformatted for our website by Jacqueline Banerjee. [Click on the images to enlarge them].

The East Window of St John the Baptist, Goulburn Street, Hobart, Tasmania, by Michael O'Connor, dating from 1856, is a four-light window showing ten scenes from the life of Christ. It was given to the church by the Rev. Frederick Holdship Cox (1821-1906), who had now moved from St John the Baptist, Buckland, which he had also installed windows by O'Connor.

The window was originally attributed to the Australian firm of Trowbridge Bros (Zimmer 117). However, the Australian newspaper archives, Trove, reveal that this and two smaller windows in the church are indeed by O’Connor and were in place in the church before it was consecrated in May 1856 (see Tasmanian Daily News, 23 May 1856: 2. Possibly Trowbridge Bros may have had some involvement in the removal and repair of the east window and the Sir George Arthur memorial window in 1903, but these windows were made a decade before Walter & Tasman Trowbridge were born.

The consecration of St John the Baptist Church occurred in May 1856 and there was a detailed description of the first stained-glass windows procured by the Rev. Cox for his present church:

The ceremony of consecrating or setting apart for the Worship of the most High of the newly erected church, dedicated to St. John, and situated in Upper Goulburn-street, took place yesterday….The chancel is lighted by a window of stained glass, of four lights, representing in ten compartments, the principal events in the life of “our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” from the nativity to the ascension. This superb specimen of art is the workmanship of O’Connor, of London. There are also two other stained glass windows, one containing a memorial of the late Sir George Arthur, and the gift of his son; the others called “the Sisters” and representing “Martha and Mary” was presented by a few young females of the parish…. [The Tasmania Daily News, 23 May 1856: 4]

Closer view of the scenes in the lower part of the window, showing the nativity and childhood of Christ.

These original windows are still extant in the church but are in poor structural condition. Many crude repairs have been done on these windows over more than a century and a half. By introducing additional lead Cames/Calmes to hold the broken glass in place, this crude type of repair makes the windows look like they are the result of childish graffiti with a thick back felt pen. In January 1882 there was an attempted robbery at the church. The miscreants smashed in a lower portion of the Sir George Arthur window to gain entry to the church for which there was ultimately no financial gain.

Closer view of the scenes in the upper part of the window, showing the Last Supper, crucifixion, and entombment of Christ.

These first windows for St John’s at Goulburn Street can now attributed as the third oldest extant stained glass windows in Tasmania. Later stained-glass windows erected in St John the Baptist at Goulburn Street between 1864 and 1947 include the following makers/studios: Charles Clutterbuck, London 1864; Trowbridge Bros, Hobart, 1906; Burlison & Grylls, London, 1872 & 1891; Brooks, Robinson & Co, Melbourne, 1913 and 1947; Lavers, Barraud & Westlake, London (attributed) no date. There is also one by an unidentified maker: Single light depicting “Suffer little children to come unto me,” no date. The church was deconsecrated on 13 September 1998.


Zimmer, Jenny. Stained Glass in Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press Melbourne, 1984.

Created 17 October 2023