St James Presbyterian Church | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


St James Presbyterian Church

Item details

Name of item: St James Presbyterian Church
Other name/s: Ryde-Meadowbank Presbyterian Church
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 74A Bowden Street, Ryde, NSW 2112
Parish: Hunters Hill
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Ryde
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
74A Bowden StreetRydeRydeHunters HillCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The church is historically significant as an inter-war period church built 1923-1924 (dedicated in 1924) for the Ryde-Meadowbank Presbyterian community, a religious community originally formed in 1915. The Church has historical association with the development of the Presbyterian religious community in the Ryde - Meadowbank area. The Church has historical association with A.L. McCredie and Anderson Architects, who designed the church. The church has aesthetic significance as a fine, architect-designed, representative Inter-war Gothic style church which is a local landmark on a prominent corner site. The church has social significance to its Presbyterian congregation.
Date significance updated: 20 Aug 12
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: A.L. McCredie and Anderson Architects
Construction years: 1923-1924
Physical description: A fine inter-war suburban church prominently located at the corner of Bowden and Squire Streets. The church is set back from the street alignment creating a turfed and concrete paved forecourt. The church has a simple symmetrical form with large gabled nave and twin gabled porches separated by a colonnaded narthex at the street façade facing Bowden Street. Roofs are steeply pitched parapeted gables, clad in terracotta Marseillaise pattern tiles. The parapets feature stepped rendered capping detail. Walls are constructed of face brickwork with render horizontal banding and brick buttressing also with render coping. Pointed arch windows are emphasised by rendered corbel courses and moulds. The front facade features a large stained glass bar tracery.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:15 May 12
Modifications and dates: Circa 1960s church hall to the south-west of the church
Modern wire fencing to the south-east of the church
Current use: Church
Former use: Church


Historical notes: AREA HISTORY
Aboriginal people inhabited the Sydney basin for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. The northern coastal area of Sydney was home to the Guringai people, western Sydney was home to the Dharug clans, and southern Sydney was inhabited by the Dharawal clans. The Guringai lived primarily along the foreshores of the harbour, and fished and hunted in the waters and hinterlands of the area. All clans harvested food from their surrounding bush. Self-sufficient and harmonious, they had no need to travel far from their lands, since the resources around them were so abundant, and trade with other tribal groups was well established. The British arrival in 1788 had a dramatic impact on all of the Sydney clans. Food resources were quickly diminished by the invaders, who had little understanding of the local environment. As a result, the Aboriginal people throughout the Sydney Basin were soon close to starvation. The Sydney clans fought back against the invaders, but the introduction of diseases from Europe and Asia, most notably smallpox, destroyed over half the population. The clearing of land for settlements and farms displaced local tribes and reduced the availability of natural food resources, leaving Aboriginal people reliant on white food and clothing. The French surgeon and pharmacist Rene Primavere Lesson, who visited Sydney in 1824, wrote: "the tribes today are reduced to fragments scattered all around Port Jackson, on the land where their ancestors lived and which they do not wish to leave." (Information taken from City of Ryde Aboriginal Site Management Report, Aboriginal Heritage Office, 2011).

In the early years of European settlement of Sydney, the Ryde area was found to be highly suitable for farming and orchards, and early colonial land grants to marines were given to encourage agriculture. In January 1792 land in the area which extended from Dundas to the Lane Cove River along the northern bank of the river, was granted to eight marines. The area was named by Governor Phillip the “Field of Mars”, Mars being the ancient Roman God of war, named to reflect the military associations of the land grantees. Two of these land grants were made in the modern area of the suburb of Ryde. Isaac Archer and John Colethread each received 80 acres of land on the site of the present Ryde-Parramatta Golf Links (now in West Ryde).

These grants were followed soon after by grants to ten emancipated convicts in February 1792, the land being further to the east of the marine’s grants, in the area now central to Ryde. Most of the grants were small, from 30 to 100 acres. This area was called Eastern Farms or the Eastern Boundary. By 1794 the name Eastern Farms had given way to Kissing Point, a name believed to have originated from the way in which heavily laden boats passing up the Parramatta River bumped or ‘kissed’ the rocky outcrop which extends into the river at today’s Kissing Point. Further grants were issued in 1794 and 1795, gradually occupying most of the foreshores between Meadowbank and Gladesville. Some of the grants were at North Brush, north of the Field of Mars settlement, in the area of Brush Farm and Eastwood.

Much later these were bought by John Macarthur, Gregory Blaxland and the Reverend Samuel Marsden. The district remained an important orcharding area throughout the 19th century.

The land on which Ryde House (now Willandra) was built was part of the emancipist John Small's 1794 grant and was acquired by James Devlin in 1828 from Thomas Small, James' step-father. James Devlin (1808-1875) was born in NSW, the son of Irish exile Arthur Devlin and his colonial-born wife Priscilla Squire. Devlin was originally a wheelwright, and later became a successful developer and contractor. James Devlin was a warden of St Anne's Church, Ryde and also a trustee for many years, and a Trustee of the Field of Mars Common, Devlin was instrumental in advocating for the proclamation of Ryde as a municipality and was one of the first Ryde aldermen in 1871. Devlin's Creek and Devlin Street are named after James Devlin. (Pollen, 1996).

About 1840 the name Ryde began to be used in the locality, with Devlin's 1841 subdivision being the earliest documented use of this name. Megan Martin has shown that the names Ryde and Turner Street were both chosen by James Devlin to honour the new Anglican Minister, Rev. George Turner, whose wife was a native of the English Ryde. Devlin and his neighbour, James Shepherd, had some 40 lots surveyed in a subdivision they named the Village of Ryde, with Devlin's 'East Ryde' facing St. Anne's Church and Shepherd's 'West Ryde' facing the road to Parramatta.

Devlin designed and began building the house now known as "Willandra" in 1841 on the old Small's farm and the Devlin family moved into the house in 1845. At that time it was called Ryde House.

The first movement for the establishment of regular Presbyterian services in Ryde Village was made in 1913, when Rev N Watts of Gladesville began preaching in the Ryde Town Hall. These services, being irregular, and held on Sunday afternoons, were not a success; and were practically abandoned. However, after a meeting in 1915, when a list was prepared showing the names of 97 adults and 66 children, it was decided to form the Ryde-Meadowbank Church; the opening service was held in Ryde School of Arts on 12/9/1915. The Rev L Millar was placed in charge. From 1919 until 1924, services were held in a church building in Macpherson Street.

On Wednesday 11 July 1923 the Tenders notices in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH, 11 July 1923 page 11) noted: "Ryde - erection of a Presbyterian Church at Ryde-Meadowbank. Messrs A.L. McCredie and Anderson Architects, 7 Bridge Street.". McCredie & Anderson were prolific architects of the period responsible for designing the Burns Philp & Co building in Bridge Street Sydney (1901) and the St Andrews Presbyterian Church at Grafton (1887), along with many other buildings.

On 27 October 1923 the foundation stone for a new church was laid by Mr. .Anderson.
In 1924, the new church, seating 300 people, and costing 4,450 pounds, was dedicated in Bowden Street. In the church are 13 memorial windows including a number to congregation members who were soldiers who died in World War I; as well as a stone font commemorating the ministry of Rev A Thain Anderson, the first minister in 1924, who was also the Moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly of NSW from 1923. The minister Rev J Hannen was inducted in 1943.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Community Development-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing Community-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with prominent local persons-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The church is historically significant as an inter-war period church built 1923-1924 (dedicated in 1924) for the Ryde-Meadowbank Presbyterian community, a religious community originally formed in 1915.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Church has historical association with the development of the Presbyterian religious community in the Ryde - Meadowbank area. The Church has historical association with A.L. McCredie and Anderson Architects, who designed the church in 1923. McCredie and Anderson designed the former Burns Philp building built in 1901 at 5-11 Bridge Street, Sydney, the former Mark Foys store built in 1908 at 302 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, and many other well-known buildings of the Federation period in Sydney..
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The church has aesthetic significance as a fine, architect-designed Inter-war Gothic style church which is a local landmark on a prominent corner site.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The church has social significance to its Presbyterian congregation.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The church is considered to have little archeological or research potential.
SHR Criteria f)
The church bulding is not a rare example of its type.
SHR Criteria g)
The church is a fine representative example of the Inter-war Gothic style.
Integrity/Intactness: Church is relatively intact.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

DOCUMENTATION: A Heritage Impact Statement is required by Council to accompany any Development Application for non-minor work. A Conservation Management Plan fo rthe church and cemetery may be required for any major proposal. Please consult Council staff about your proposal and the level of documentation that will be required as early as possible in the process. Note that Council has adopted planning provisions to assist in the making of minor changes that will not have any impact on the significance of properties without the need to prepare a formal application or Heritage Impact Statement. In this case Council must be consulted in writing to confirm the nature of the works. APPROACHES TO MANAGING THE HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROPERTY: (Note: the detailed requirements for each property will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The following advice provides general principles that should be respected by all development.) Further subdivision of the land is discouraged. The overall form of the building should be retained and conserved and new uses should be restricted to those that are historically consistent and/or able to be accommodated within the existing fabric with minimal physical impact. All significant exterior fabric should be retained and conserved. The setting of the property should be protected from the impacts of development and significant plantings, walls, paths and other landscape elements should be retained. The external surfaces and materials of significant facades (generally, but not limited to, those visible from the street or a public place including the water) should be retained, and painted surfaces painted in appropriate colours. Sandstone and face brickwork should not be painted or coated. Significant door and window openings should not be enlarged or enclosed. OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE: The setting of the church, and the scale of the church should be respected. The 1960s church hall is not considered significant and could be replaced in future with a new church hall. As a general principle, new work should NOT: - result in demolition of significant fabric - result in excessive site cover; - be visually prominent or overwhelm the church building. - intrude into any views of the property from the public domain, including the water; and should be: - visually subservient to the church and have minimal impact on heritage significance including that of views over the property.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanRyde LEP 201020   
Local Environmental PlanRyde Draft LEP 2011I20   
Local Environmental PlanRyde LEP 2014I2002 Sep 14   
Local Environmental Plan - LapsedLEP No. 10511617 Jan 03 14345
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Ryde Heritage Study1988 Jonathan Falk Planning Consutants P/L Assoc with Rodney Jensen and Assoc P/L  No
Review of 1988 Ryde Heritage Study.2002 Hill Thalis Architecture and Urban Projects.  Yes
Ryde SHI Review Stage 22012 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenM.C.I. Levy1947Wallumetta: A History of Ryde and its District: 1792 to 1945
WrittenSydney Morning Herald 2 May 1924 page 101924Ryde-Meadowbank Presbyterian Church (article)
WrittenSydney Morning Herald 16 May 1923 p121923Presbyterian Church - new moderator (article re Rev A. Thain Anderson), SMH,
WrittenSydney Morning Herald, 11 July1923, page 111923Tenders notices, SMH page 11
WrittenSydney Morning Herald, 29 October 1923, page 101923New church at Ryde: address by moderator (article,SMH)

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2340051

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