It's been called the most beautiful church in the world. Framed in an avenue of 200 elm trees 150 years old, the vine-clad Gostwyck Chapel has been a photographers delight, appearing in tourist brochures wedding photos and phone books.
Last month the cameras were clicking again as the old church celebrated 100 years.
The crowd of well-wishers that spilled over into the marquee represented regular and past parishioners, members of the Uralla Church and a host of travellers with fond memories of weddings and worship from times past.
The morning of Sunday, May 16 began with a characteristic New England minus 7 degrees, but by the time the service began at 10 am, the sun was shining on a perfect autumn day, topping it off with a mandatory sausage, plenty of leaves for the children to roll in and everyone enjoying each other's company.
The service was conducted by Reverend Brian Kirk, the vicar of Uralla. Music was led by the TAS choir and Bishop Rod Chiswell preached the sermon from 2 Timothy 3, urging the congregation to keep reading the Bible daily and meeting together weekly.
It was in 1921 that Nora Dangar commissioned the building in memory of her late husband Major C.C. Dangar MC who died in July 1918 from wounds received in World War I. She placed on the foundation stone the verse, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends". The words carried a double impact. Firstly it was Jesus' words describing the death that he would die for the world. But it also reflected the sacrifice that her beloved husband had made for family and country.
Gostwyck Estate has been in the Dangar family since 1834. The church was built initially for the family and labourers of the estate which could sometimes number as many as 100.
Over time the church has become a branch church of the Uralla parish and services are held on the first Sunday of every month at 8am. The congregation may include Uralla people, others from outlying country centres as well as tourists who visited the chapel once and return for a service.
In the words of Philip Attard from Gostwyck Estate, "I am delighted that the church has been a centre of Christian worship in the community for all this time."
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