The original Presbyterian Manse building was erected in 1884 for the use of the Presbyterian minister who had, prior to this time, boarded with members of his congregation. The land was presented to the church by Robert Andrews of Maryville.
The plans for the building were prepared by Edward Rye. A valuation conducted by Richardson and Bird, Auctioneers of Wingham assessed the value of the land on which the Manse stood as £250 with the buildings consisting of a six-roomed brick cottage and meeting room lined with weatherboard at £600.
The first minister to live at the manse was David Allan. He had been appointed to the Manning in 1883 and conducted his first service at Ashlea on August 26 of the same year. Present at this service were Mr and Mrs Gibson. Mr Gibson had been a driving force in the push to attain a minister for the Wingham district. Sadly, following this first service Mr and Mrs Gibson were involved in a buggy accident. Mrs Gibson was killed instantly while Mr Gibson succumbed to his injuries two days later.
Mr Allan only lived in the house for one year before he was transferred to Queensland. He was impressed with the district writing that:
“This is a delightful district and the Presbyterian element in it is strong – what I have seen of it leads me to anticipate a splendid future for the Presbyterian church. The people are very enthusiastic in the cause and since my arrival amongst them have been very kind to me. Last Sabbath I preached at Wingham and Ashlea – each service having between 200 and 300 people in attendance … The Manning is a great place for Presbyterians, the people being mainly from Scotland and north of Ireland.”
The early ministers travelled thoughout the Manning preaching at a range of centres. The Rev Terras, who served from 1892 to 1920, reported that a typical Sunday would have him preaching at Woodside, Ashlea and Wingham.
His wife, Nessie, was also active in the work of the church, organising the Sunday School with the help of C. and M. McDonald, Maud Rye and V. Christian, and was also responsible for steps to reduce the church’s debt.
The Reverend Terras worked as minister to the area until 1920. He was at Nowendoc to conduct a service when he awoke to discover that he was blind. He conducted the service nonetheless. Despite his blindness he continued to serve as minister until 1920.
The house was substantially added to over the years with extensions to the left adding additional living space while a verandah was erected on the right. A bay window was added in 1891.
The Manse was not only the home of the minister – it also served as his office where he conducted the business of the church and interviewed those wishing to marry. Functions were also held in the gardens of the Manse.
The Manse remained the home of Presbyterian ministers until 2003. At this time the building had fallen into such a state of disrepair that the minister was housed elsewhere.
Also, at this time, ministers were encouraged to invest in a home of their own so that they had a little more privacy for their family and as an investment for the future.