St Matthias Church Group Incl Buildings & Their Interiors, Front Fence & Grounds | NSW Environment & Heritage

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St Matthias Church Group Incl Buildings & Their Interiors, Front Fence & Grounds

Item details

Name of item: St Matthias Church Group Incl Buildings & Their Interiors, Front Fence & Grounds
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church Hall
Primary address: 471-475 Oxford Street, Paddington, NSW 2021
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
471-475 Oxford StreetPaddingtonSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The buildings making up the St Matthias church group are historically significant because of their associations with the Anglican Church and its long presence within Paddington, firstly as a garrison church for Victoria Barracks and then as the local Anglican Church. The Church and Church Hall have been a continuous part of the life of the Anglican community within Paddington since the second half of the nineteenth century. St Matthias Church and the Church Hall both demonstrate characteristics of the Victorian Academic Gothic style, of which they are representative examples, in a convincing and well resolved manner. The buildings are a highly significant component of the streetscape in this section of Paddington

St Matthias Church has strong associations with the historically significant figure, the Reverend Zachary Barry, while the buildings forming the group have associations with several significant nineteenth century architects, including Edward Bell, Edmund Blacket and Benjamin Backhouse.

The organ within the church is an excellent example of a 19th century organ built by J.W. Walker and Sons in London in 1876-77 and sympathetically enlarged in 1919 by Sydney Builder Charles W. Leggo. It is an important internal architectural feature of the church and has been an integral part of music making and worship in the church since the 1870s.
Date significance updated: 24 Nov 08
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Designer/Maker: Edward Bell; Benjamin Backhouse; Edmund Blacket; Arthur Blacket; Benjamin Backhouse; A W S Mowle
Physical description: The buildings that form the St Matthias group include the Church itself, the large Church Hall to its west and the 1927 Rectory to its south.

ST MATTHIAS CHURCH

St Matthias Church is a modest but assured example of the so-called Victorian Academic Gothic style, extensively used for religious architecture throughout Australia during the nineteenth century. The Church is constructed with sandstone walls reinforced by simple stepped buttresses and has a steeply pitched sandstone roof covered with slate. Its plan takes the form of a Latin cross with the transept at the eastern end of the building. A chapel terminates the eastern end of the building. Window and door openings are generally in the form of pointed arches with simple label moulds above the arched sections. Windows contain leadlights. There are two octagonal towers on either side of the building, located on the western side of the transept, with steep roofs incorporating vents in four roof planes. A small porch on the northern side of the transept addresses Oxford Street. A relatively elaborate trefoil window in the western façade features decorative carving and is a distinctive detail.

Organ

The organ in St Matthias’ was built by J W Walker & Sons in London, in 1876-77. This famous firm exported about 40 instruments to New South Wales in the 19th century, all treasured for their high mechanical quality, solid materials and forthright sound which made them very effective in their main role of supporting congregational singing. (Materials included well-seasoned oak, mahogany and pine, as well as cast iron and ivory). The firm of J W Walker was founded by Joseph William Walker in 1828, and rapidly developed to become one of the most successful and significant firms in the United Kingdom. Still in existence today (at Brandon, Suffolk), the firm exported more organs to Australia than any other, eclipsing their major rival - Hill & Son - of Sydney Town Hall fame.

The Paddington organ (the firm’s Job Number 1084) arrived in August 1877 on the ship Hawkesbury, and was installed in the church by the local organ builder William Davidson. It was a small instrument of 2 manuals and pedals of only 12 stop and 2 couplers.

To meet the requirements of a larger congregation, it was enlarged in 1919 by Sydney builder Charles W. Leggo, to its present size of 16 speaking stops and four couplers. This was C.W. Leggo’s first major contract, after severing his partnership with G.C. Griffin, and was thus an important milestone in this builder’s output, which spanned almost three decades to 1945. Leggo was the most significant Sydney organbuilder between the two World Wars and he completed some 33 contracts during this period.

At Paddington, Leggo applied tubular-pneumatic actions to sections of the organ (notably the pedal), and the casework was rebuilt to incorporate the original Walker façade pipes. The work was done in a totally sympathetic style, retaining all Walker pipes and virtually all the original console components, including keyboards, keycheeks, music desk, stopknobs (with original hand-engraved ivory discs), pedalboard, swell control and iron composition pedals. Owing to heavy wear from constant use for services, weddings, funerals, concerts and civic services, the organ required an overhaul, carried out in 1946 by J.F. and M.D. Stephen. No changes were made to the organ at this time.

Owing to its excellent tonal qualities, the organ at St Matthias’ Paddington was recorded by Michael Dudman (Organist of Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle) in 1982 for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as part of the series, “Historic Organs of Sydney”. One work, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott BWV 680, from the Clavier-Übung III, was later transferred to compact disc under the Walsingham Classics Label AAD, in the Great Organs of Australia Series.

The organ is currently unplayable, largely due to the failure of the blowing equipment and it is essential that restoration works commence to bring the instrument back into use.



CHURCH HALL

The Church Hall is a large rectilinear single storey building constructed of brick that demonstrates characteristics of the Victorian Academic Gothic style. The building is constructed of pale toned bricks laid above a stone base course which is in turn laid over a brick foundation. The roof of the building is covered with corrugated steel sheeting.

RECTORY

The Rectory appears to have been built during the late 1920s, but differs in detail to the 1927 documentation held at the City of Sydney Archive. It is a two storey building with a hipped roof. Walls are of liver toned bricks, relieved by shallow recessed courses of bricks at regular intervals. The roof is covered with terracotta tiles resembling slates or shingles. Some sections of the building are covered by flat roofs covered with metal decking. Windows are generally timber framed double hung sashes, the top sashes of which are divided into four panes. The facetted brick bay at the south eastern corner of the building includes a circular window in one wall.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The buildings are generally in good condition.

2008- The organ is currently unplayable, largely due to the failure of the blowing equipment

There may be the possibility of archaeological remains within the confines of the property.
Date condition updated:05 Jun 07
Modifications and dates: It is understood that the Church was originally in the form of a Maltese Cross, but subsequent additions altered the plan to a Latin Cross.

The organ was enlarged by a prominent Sydney Builder Charles W Leggo., in a sympathetic manner in 1919.

The Hall was modified as part of road widening works during the 1950s. Its northern façade was removed and a new façade built. The shape of the central window was changed to a circular form, brick detailing was lost and corner buttresses deleted.

Inspection of the Rectory has revealed that a first floor verandah on the eastern side of the building has been enclosed and a carport with a tiled roof constructed on its eastern side. Some modification of flat areas of roofing is also evident.

Council records seem to be limited but show that the following application was lodged:

1990: refurbishment of Hall.
Further information: Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Religious
Former use: Religious

History

Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population.

An Anglican Church school was built on the south eastern corner of what is now Oatley Road and Oxford Street during 1847, although it seems that Church services were held within the nearby Victoria Barracks. On 29 January 1856 a number of Paddington’s Anglicans made a deputation to the Lord Bishop to discuss the best means of opening the school as a place of divine worship. The first divine service to be conducted in the Parish of St Matthias was held on 17 February 1856 in the school (also known as Keeley’s school). It was dedicated as a church by the Lord Bishop a week later. Although it was intended to enlarge the building the costs proved beyond the means of the parishioners and so the last service was held in the little church on 3 May 1857. The land on which it stood was resumed by the Water Board as part of the reserve for the Paddington Reservoir, but the school continued to operate as a Church of England establishment until 1881. The site was sold to one Harry Zions and by 1886 the Grand View Hotel was standing on it.

On 2 November 1857 trustees were elected to make application for another grant of land for the purposes of building a new church. Their method of appointment was declared illegal and new trustees were appointed on 24 May 1858. Land was given (though apparently not formally granted at this time) to the Church in exchange for the earlier property and was formerly part of the Sydney Common. The Sydney Common was proclaimed on 5 October 1811 and dedicated on 5 October 1866 under the Sydney Commons Improvement Act, which appointed the Municipal Council of Sydney trustees. The Act empowered the Council to sell a portion of the Common lands. The money raised was to go towards improving the remainder of the Common, renamed Moore Park in 1871. The affected land was (and is) contained by Oxford Street, South Dowling Street and Moore Park Road.

On 14 December 1858 Edward Bell, a member of the church committee, produced drawings and a specification for St Matthias Church. Bell (1812-1875) was born in England and trained as an engineer. He gained a diverse range of professional experience in places such as New York, Amsterdam and Egypt. He established his own practice in 1840 and worked extensively on railways, docks and waterworks. He supervised improvement of navigation on the River Volga in Russia in the first half of the 1850s. Imprisoned during the Crimean war, on his return to England his health had deteriorated to the extent that he immigrated to New South Wales, arriving in Sydney in January 1856. He was quickly appointed City Engineer and then City Surveyor. He resigned due to disputes with the Municipal Council and set up his own practice around 1871. However, his health further deteriorated and he subsequently returned to England where he died.

Bell offered his services without charging for them, as a way of making a donation to the church building fund. Work seems to have commenced shortly afterwards. The foundation stone was laid on 24 March 1859 by the Lord Bishop. In July or August 1859 Bell resigned after an altercation with the committee but withdrew his resignation after rather less than two weeks. He finally resigned later that year and the committee appointed James Cowlishaw as architect. The church was duly completed, the first service being held within its confines on the day it was opened by Bishop Barker on 26 May 1861.

The organ in St Matthias’ was built by J W Walker & Sons in London, in 1876-77. This famous firm exported about 40 instruments to New South Wales in the 19th century, all treasured for their high mechanical quality, solid materials and forthright sound which made them very effective in their main role of supporting congregational singing. (Materials included well-seasoned oak, mahogany and pine, as well as cast iron and ivory). The firm of J W Walker was founded by Joseph William Walker in 1828, and rapidly developed to become one of the most successful and significant firms in the United Kingdom. Still in existence today (at Brandon, Suffolk), the firm exported more organs to Australia than any other, eclipsing their major rival - Hill & Son - of Sydney Town Hall fame.

The Paddington organ (the firm’s Job Number 1084) arrived in August 1877 on the ship Hawkesbury, and was installed in the church by the local organ builder William Davidson. It was a small instrument of 2 manuals and pedals of only 12 stop and 2 couplers.

The prominent and influential architect Edmund Blacket was approached by the committee at the end of 1862 to provide an opinion as to the cost of proposed alterations and eventually designed and supervised construction of a porch and turret on the northern side of the church, which appear to have been completed by October 1863.

The ministry at St Matthias was taken over in 1868 by the historically significant Reverend Zachary Barry (1827-1898). Of Irish birth, he had first arrived in Australia in 1853, where he served as a government chaplain in Western Australia. For reasons of health he returned to Ireland but was persuaded to return to Australia and arrived in Sydney during 1865. He was chaplain at Victoria Barracks and maintained a popular, well run ministry at Paddington until 1893. Barry was an effective public speaker, a militant protestant and a major proponent of secular education in New South Wales. In 1874 he assisted in the foundation of the Public Schools League, which contributed to the passage of the Public Schools Act of 1880.

The church land appears to have been formally granted to William McCarthy, Frederick Oatley, Prosper Matthews and Richard Westaway (presumably trustees for St Matthias) on 1 June 1872. There were two grants - 3 roods were granted for the erection of a church and 1 rood was grated for the site of a rectory. In 1915 the title to the land was registered in the name of the Church of England Property Trust Diocese of Sydney.

A Rectory is thought to have been designed by architect Benjamin Backhouse and completed around 1873. Backhouse (1829-1904) was born in England and immigrated to Victoria in 1852, where he practised as a builder then as an architect at Geelong and Ballarat. He returned to London then came back to Australia where he established an architectural practice in Brisbane. In 1868 he moved to Sydney and established a large office, with branches in Bathurst and Newcastle. Backhouse served as secretary of the Institute of Architects of NSW in the years 1871 to 1873, joined the City of Sydney Improvement Board in 1879 and was its chairman between 1880 and 1892. He also helped to form the Sanitary Reform League in 1880.

In June 1874 it was moved to complete the nave of the church, which was apparently designed by an architect by the name of Mr Dave. Some years later Benjamin Backhouse was engaged once again, this time to design the Church Hall, which was built circa 1882. This followed from the decision made the previous year to sell the school house in Oatley Street. During the 1870s and 1880s Backhouse received a number of commissions for churches and church halls. Perhaps his finest church was All Saints Anglican Church in Petersham, completed in 1871. His church halls seem to have been fairly standardised - the hall at St Matthias is similar to his earlier St Peters in East Sydney (1872).

St Matthias must have played an important role in the lives of many of Paddington’s residents, for by 1890 just under half of the suburb’s population was Anglican. In 1895 or the first quarter of 1896 it was reported that the majority of branches associated with the church were growing and "more vigorous now than ever before". Part of this was reflected in renovations made internally and externally to the building and the installation of “modern seats of the most approved pattern”. Gas lighting was also installed, and the renovated church reopened for services on 30 August 1895.

A stone fence and memorial gates were designed by Arthur Blacket, son of Edmund Blacket, to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII and the consecration of the church in 1902. The fence and gates were erected along what was then the northern (Oxford Street) boundary of the site.

The Church of England Property Trust Diocese of Sydney became the registered proprietor of the property around 1915.

To meet the requirements of a larger congregation, the organ was enlarged in 1919 by Sydney builder Charles W. Leggo, to its present size of 16 speaking stops and four couplers. This was C.W. Leggo’s first major contract, after severing his partnership with G.C. Griffin, and was thus an important milestone in this builder’s output, which spanned almost three decades to 1945. Leggo was the most significant Sydney organbuilder between the two World Wars and he completed some 33 contracts during this period. Leggo applied tubular-pneumatic actions to sections of the organ (notably the pedal), and the casework was rebuilt to incorporate the original Walker façade pipes. The work was done in a totally sympathetic style, retaining all Walker pipes and virtually all the original console components, including keyboards, keycheeks, music desk, stopknobs (with original hand-engraved ivory discs), pedalboard, swell control and iron composition pedals. Owing to heavy wear from constant use for services, weddings, funerals, concerts and civic services, the organ required an overhaul, carried out in 1946 by J.F. and M.D. Stephen. No changes were made to the organ at this time..

A new rectory was designed in 1927 by architect A W S Mowle. The proposed works comprised a substantial two storey brick building with a steeply pitched slate roof and a single car garage designed to harmonise with the rectory.

In February 1940 the eastern end of the church grounds, including the original Rectory, was sold to Dr Cyril Mackintosh, then in May 1961 the title to a strip of land extending along Oxford Street was transferred to the Commissioner for Main Roads. Meanwhile, during the 1950s part of the Hall was occupied by the Post Master General’s Department. The Church Hall suffered the destruction of its façade, which was rebuilt with the loss of original detailing. The 1902 fence and gates were also a casualty of the road widening.

Owing to its excellent tonal qualities, the organ was recorded by Michael Dudman (Organist of Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle) in 1982 for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as part of the series, "Historic Organs of Sydney". One work, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott BWV 680, from the Clavier-Übung III, was later transferred to compact disc under the Walsingham Classics Label AAD, in the Great Organs of Australia Series.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Community facilities-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The buildings making up the St Matthias church group are historically significant because of their associations with the Anglican Church and its long presence within Paddington, firstly as a garrison church for Victoria Barracks and then as the local Anglican Church.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
St Matthias Church has strong associations with the historically significant figure, the Reverend Zachary Barry.

The buildings forming the group have associations with several significant nineteenth century architects, including Edward Bell, Edmund Blacket and Benjamin Backhouse.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
St Matthias Church and the Church Hall both demonstrate characteristics of the Victorian Academic Gothic style in a convincing and well resolved manner.

The buildings are a highly significant component of the streetscape in this section of Paddington.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Church and Church Hall have been a continuous part of the life of the Anglican community within Paddington since the second half of the nineteenth century.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
This criterion is not applicable.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
This criterion is not applicable.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
St Matthias Church and the Church Hall are considered to be representative of the Victorian Academic Gothic style.

The group of buildings incorporating the Church and Church Hall is representative of many such groups.
Integrity/Intactness: The Matthias Church appears to have retained a large amount of original and early fabric. The Church Hall has been affected by road widening and replacement of earlier fabric such as roof linings.
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:

• All conservation, adaptive reuse and future development should be undertaken in accordance with the Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (The Burra Charter). • A Conservation Management Plan should be prepared for the entire site to ensure that future change is managed in a coordinated fashion. • All intact original internal fabric and later fabric identified as having heritage significance and movable heritage items should be retained and conserved. • Retain and conserve all intact original external and internal building fabric and the external appearance of the buildings. • Detailing of new fabric should respect the integrity and existing character of the building and its original fabric. • No new development on the site should be permitted that obscures the important physical and visual relationships between the buildings and their important contribution to the streetscape. • Consider reinstating appropriate fabric on the exterior of the Church Hall, such as roofing, where it has been replaced by inappropriate fabric. The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the façade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I109514 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1940Certificate of Title Volume 5143 Folio 108
Written 1922Certificate of Title Volume 3350 Folio 26
Written 1906St Matthias Church, Paddington: jubilee celebrations, 1906
Written 1896St Matthias Church, Paddington: Report Easter 1896
Written 1872Certificates of title Volume 273 Folios 56 and 57
Written  Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7
GraphicA W M Mowle1927Building Application 1167/27: Rectory for St Matthias’ Church of England Paddington
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenClive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners1999St Matthias Anglican Church, Oxford Street, Paddington: Church Hall: conservation assessment and photographic record
WrittenGail Knox1988Paddington Walk
WrittenGodden Mackay1997Former St Matthias Rectory, 495 Oxford Street, Paddington: heritage assessment
WrittenHugh B Knight2008Statement of Significance - The Pipe Organ at St Matthias Anglican Church, Paddington, NSW
WrittenL G Norman1961Historical Notes on Paddington
WrittenLeslie Bridle St Matthias History (unpublished notes)
WrittenMax Kelly1978Paddock Full of Houses: Paddington 1840-1890
WrittenMorton Herman1963The Blackets: An Era of Australian Architecture
WrittenN B Nairn, A G Serle and R B Ward (editors)1969Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3
WrittenPaddington Municipality1910Paddington: its history and progress, with an account of the incorporation of the municipality and the celebration of its jubilee, 1860-1910
WrittenShirley Fitzgerald1992Sydney 1842-1992

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: 2421076


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