Church has an afterlife
COULD this be Hobart’s most fascinating rental property? Many will recognise the sandstone facade of this West Hobart property, which dominates the corner of Goulburn St and Forest Rd, but few have had the privilege of taking a glimpse inside.
Previously a church for 146 years, the residence, now known as Pendragon Hall, has served many purposes since being deconsecrated in 1998.
Built in 1852, it was known as St John the Baptist Church before being renamed Pendragon Hall by previous owners Richard Dyason and Audrone Berzanskas, who were Celtic history buffs.
Used as a bed- and- breakfast for many years, the hall has also hosted concerts and art exhibitions in recent years.
Two years ago Juliet Tabain, now of Perth, bought the building for her daughter Monika Tabain- Hoogland.
Charmed by its character, history, high arches and stunning stained glass windows, Monika fell in love with the building while living in Dodges Ferry.
‘‘ I was road tripping around Australia with my boyfriend when I got to Tasmania,’’ she said.
‘‘ I fell in love with the wilderness and amazing scenery. I love the coastline, rainforests and alpine regions.’’
Since purchasing the property, the only necessary changes have been to replace the guttering and painting the interior white – making quite a difference from the former gloomy purple colour.
The vivid colour and the way light catches in the stained glass windows make this Monika’s favourite aspect of the home.
‘‘ The artist who designed them remains a mystery, although
some suspect it may have been a French artist,’’ she said.
‘‘ The bell tower I also love because it’s a unique little feature and the perfect place to lock someone in if they misbehave.’’
Having a background in the arts is something tenant Courtney Simpson, who moved in just a few weeks ago with her daughter Edie, has in common with her new landlord.
‘‘ I was living in Melbourne when I found this online and it was the same as I was paying for a shoebox one- bedroom apartment over there,’’ she said.
‘‘ A month later I came back here and it was still available. When the price went down I had to have it.
‘‘ Before I moved in I was worried that I might wake up in the middle of the night and feel overwhelmed, but it’s really peaceful in here. You do think twice about swearing though.’’
Effectively one large open- plan room with separate kitchen and bathroom, the interior is divided into living, dining and sleeping areas, with various artworks by Courtney adorning the white walls.
Original church pews were included in the tenancy and can be found in the formal dining area in the centre of the home.
Courtney’s bed is located at the front end of the church beneath a relief of The Last Supper.
The seemingly endless high ceilings create a sense of space without compromising the homely feeling.
Modernity has made a subtle mark, with solar panels on the roof and smoke alarms on the exposed timber ceiling beams attached to fishing wire to make them accessible to change the batteries.
The old baptismal font now houses a pot plant and the original wooden doors open out on to what is now used as a barbecue area.
Monika hopes to eventually return to Hobart and make something of Pendragon Hall so it can be visited by the public.