Brenda Stuttle with husband Rob and Jayde Keeley at their newly-refurbished church in Tumbulgum. Photo: Nolan Verheij-full
Brenda Stuttle with husband Rob and Jayde Keeley at their newly-refurbished church in Tumbulgum. Photo: Nolan Verheij-full

Family restores historic Tweed chapel

FOR the past eight months the Stuttle family has been restoring a little chapel in Tumbulgum to its former beauty, breathing life back into the 125-year-old worship site, and preventing it from being turned into a cafe.

The Tweed River Chapel was built in 1888 and had been through floods, famines and wars only to be forced onto the real estate market last year when the Anglican diocese of Grafton had to sell it to pay off debts.

Unsure of the fate of the church they had been borrowing from the Anglicans, Pastors Rob and Brenda Stuttle decided to buy it, for the use of the congregation of the 20 people from New Beginnings Christian Church.

"Both my wife and I felt it pressing on us to keep the church and we have seen so many beautiful churches get turned into houses, restaurants and libraries," Pastor Rob Stuttle said.

"There used to be a Presbyterian and Catholic Church in Tumbulgum and now they are homes. If this one went, it would have been the last to go," he said.

The couple sold their home in Banora Point, bought the chapel for $500,000, and moved into a caravan at the back of the church.

With many helping hands they have refreshed the paint and colour scheme, replacing old mustard and reds with greys and whites, and erected a white picket fence.

But the best of the Tweed River Chapel, once known as St Peter's Anglican Church, is probably on the inside - where the original 125-year-old pews and altar is framed with exposed ceiling beams and freshly-oiled timber floors.

"Many young couples have walked into the chapel not even realising it has existed for so long - people just drove past thinking it was an old part of the pub." Mr Stuttle said.

For couples that want their dream wedding at the historic chapel and the beautiful surrounds of the Tumbulgum River, the Stuttle's daughter Jade Keeley, 29, is on hand in the role of professional wedding planner.



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