Presbyterian Church of Australia and Manse | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Presbyterian Church of Australia and Manse

Item details

Name of item: Presbyterian Church of Australia and Manse
Other name/s: Former Presbyterian Church of Australia and Manse
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 1561-1563 Botany Road, Botany, NSW 2019
Local govt. area: Botany Bay
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1561-1563 Botany RoadBotanyBotany Bay  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The property at 1561-1563 Botany Road, which includes the former Presbyterian Church and its Manse and their setting, is a significant historical landmark in the streetscape of the Botany Road that demonstrates the historically and socially significant cultural practice of religious worship within the community. The property is also significant for the aesthetic values of the church and manse, both individually and as a collective group within the context of their setting as a cultural landscape, and in particular for the distinctive 'unbalanced' distribution of the buildings within the grounds of the church. The former church is also aesthetically significant at the local level as a representative example of the work of significant British architect Albert Bond.

The Church group includes a modest timber cottage used as the Manse. This Manse is a separate heritage item, but its significance is closely linked with that of the group. The Manse is significant for its construction. It has been relocated to the site, with the evidence of the fabric revealing its construction through the cuts to footings, bottom plates, framing and other structural details that allowed to be moved in separate parts. Further evidence can be seen through the close proximity between the two buildings, the eaves within centimetres of each other; the Church's purchase of an additional sliver of land to fit the building into the space and the evidence of the return verandah on the 'wrong' side of the building.

The site, including both church and Manse, is currently undergoing major redevelopment for residential use. The development has also included the demolition of the cottage to the north, which was the first building on the site. This redevelopment has significantly eroded the setting of the group, and also replaced the church use with residential. The form and exterior fabric of the church remains legible.
Date significance updated: 29 Jul 18
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: Albert Bond
Construction years: 1880-1880
Physical description: Former Presbyterian Church and weatherboard manse. The two buildings are sited within ten centimetres of each other, with overlapping gutter lines. The remainder of the site provides the grounds for the church, and was, until recently, a cleared space which facilitated views of the two buildings from the streetscape of Botany Road. At the time of original inspection the original frame-hung bell was in-situ in the grounds. Its current whereabouts are unknown. The manse is a double-fronted weatherboard cottage with distinctive detailing including paired bow windows with memorial/dedication plaques set below, and a return verandah abutting the site boundary. Aligned vertical cuts to the fabric, including cladding, plates and bargeboards, the orientation of the verandah return abutting the boundary, plus the acquisition of a sliver of land sufficient only to fit the width of the cottage, reveal that it was relocated from another site and re-assembled adjacent to the Church.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The site is undergoing major redevelopment. The cottage to the north (formerly the original building of the group) has been demolished and both church and manse adapted for residential use. The remainder of the site has been redeveloped for a residential flat building.
Further information: The site is undergoing redevelopment including conservation works and alterations and additions. (2017-2018)

Works include the excavation of the site to the north west of the church and erection of a 2-4 storey residential flat building on the cleared space. A late 19th century cottage on the adjoining site to the north (1559 Botany Road) was also part of the group but was not included within the listed curtilage of the item. It has been demolished and included in the footprint of the development.

The exterior masonry and sandstone of the original fabric of the church is being repaired and retained. Render was stripped to facilitate repair and alterations. The interior is being adapted for commercial use and wider, accessible openings inserted. A mezzanine level was also proposed as part of the development. The rear annex to the church has been demolished. The rear of the manse has also been demolished and much of the weatherboard cladding removed due to deterioration of fabric and proposed addition to the rear.

The majority of the site, plus the adjoining property to the north (formerly part of the church, purchased to protect the setting of the church from inappropriate development) has been cleared for the residential flat building.
The development is nearing completion at the time of writing.
Current use: Mixed residential and commercial (under development)
Former use: Presbyterian Church and Manse


Historical notes: History of the item

The Botany Presbyterian Church was constructed in 1880 to designs by architect Albert Bond. It sits on land that was originally part of a 165 acre holding purchased by Simeon Lord in 1834 but not officially granted until 1851, eleven years after Lord’s death (the land was granted to the trustees of Lord’s estate).

In 1852 the 165 acre holding was sold in its entirety to William Beaumont, a builder. Beaumont was already active in this part of Botany, having leased and managed the nearby Sir Joseph Banks Hotel since 1846. The Hotel was situated on the block adjoining Beaumont’s 165 acres. After Beaumont ended his period at the Hotel in 1861 he began to develop his own holding. A Certificate of Title was issued at Vol 7 Folio 156. At its southern end nearest to the Hotel and bay foreshore he developed a new pleasure garden, under the management of Thomas Correy, called “Correys Pleasure Gardens”.

From the 1870s Beaumont began to subdivide and sell his land. In 1875 a portion of this land that lay opposite the gardens, Lot 11 of DP 87 (created in 1872) was given jointly by Beaumont and local businessman John Geddes, to the local Botany Presbyterians for the construction of a church. Geddes was an influential tannery entrepreneur, owning at least three and quite possibly more, tanneries and associated works. He and Beaumont likely joined together in this donation as Geddes’ son Alexander had married Beaumont’s daughter Elizabeth in 1874, and the couple lived on the adjoining property to the east of the church site in a house called ‘Fern Villa’.

Geddes was already heavily involved in the Botany Presbyterian community. In 1873 when Rev. Dr. Fullerton, overseer of the church at that time, announced his intentions of holding a regular service in Botany, Geddes paid a year’s rent in advance for use of the Mechanics Literary Institute on Botany Road for services. (This building is now 1361 Botany Road). They gathered there until 1876. (When John Geddes died in 1894, a marble tablet was erected in the current church in his memory.)

In 1876 Botany parish, which at this time was still joined with Waterloo, became a Presbyterian Parish and the Rev. J. Curtis was ordained and inducted. The land donated to the church by Geddes and Beaumont was transferred to the church trustees on 28 July 1875.

Albert Bond was engaged in 1879 as architect of the new church building. A foundation stone was laid by Rev. Dr. Fullteron on 27 September 1879 and “coins of the realm” were placed in “the cavity prepared for it”. (2 October 1879, The Presbyterian & Australian Witness, p.5)

The Presbyterian & Australian Witness described the intended church in an article dated 4 October 1879. It read…

“The church is to be constructed of brick on stone foundation with stone dressings. The roof will be an opened timbered one, covered with slates with cut bands in same and lined internally with colonial pine sheeting. The main entrance will be marked by a well-designed porch with couplet window therein and a door at the side of the approach into church with parapets, corbels, a well proportional finial stone. On either side there is to be a lancet window, with incised stone, keystone voussoirs and sills with buttresses at angles and sides. The gables are to have stone parapets, corbels and to be crowned with a handsome terminal. The seating and rostrum are specially designed with a view to comfort, combined with a novelty of style seldom met with church furniture. The dimensions of they are to be 38ft 6 inches by 19ft 9 inches with a wall height of 14ft. The architect is Mr Albert Bond. Messrs Fleming & Lardner are the contractors for stone & brickwork and Mr William Cormack for finishing trades.” (p.5)

The building cost of the church was approximately £1,000. The new church was officially opened on 7 February 1880 by Rev. Dr. Gibbon. A large tea gathering was held after the second service with the intention to raise funds to eliminate the remaining debt on the building. It was attended by an estimated 400 people and the objective was reached.

The church grew quite quickly. By October 1880 over 50 scholars were reported as attending the Sabbath School and the congregation was so large a mid-week service was being held twice a month. The North Botany (now Mascot) and Botany churches, as well as the Waterloo church, often shared ministers. In 1891 North Botany and Botany separated from St Luke’s Waterloo and became known as the Presbyterian Parish of Alexandria. Rev. George S. Moorehead was appointed the minister but only remained one year before accepting a position in Hobart.

The name of the Parish was changed once again in 1895 to be the Parish of Botany and the following year a foundation stone was laid on the eastern side of the church for the construction of a church Manse. The double-fronted manse was constructed in 1896. In 1899 a slither of additional land (6 ¼ perches) was acquired by Elizabeth Geddes to the east of the manse. It was at first rented until 1903 when a full-time minister, Rev. Carson, arrived at the Parish. He and his family stayed for four years.

In 1907 Rev. Matthew Bell came to the Botany Parish and remained there until his retirement due to ill health in January 1915. During Bell’s term the Woman’s Guild was established. Their first effort was to pay off the debt of £75 still owing on the church manse, followed by fundraising for a Sunday School Hall. The foundation stone was laid in 1911 and the timber hall was built at the rear of the church property by the men of the congregation. It was converted into a Day Nursery in 1948. The hall was the target of an arson attack in the 1980s and was not rebuilt.

In 1915 the North Botany Church received their first minister separate from the Botany congregation and changed its name to Knox Church. The Rev. A.J. Carter led the Botany Church from 1915 to 1920. His arrival coincided with an extension to the church manse which consisted of the construction of a dining room, a laundry and enclosed verandah.

Rev. G.W. McAlpine arrived at the Botany Church in 1920. At this time a stable was added close to the manse and the following year electric lighting was installed in the church hall. McAlpine was the longest serving minister, remaining there until 1957.

In 1922 the congregation purchased the adjoining block of land with a cottage (known as “Alethea”) to the west of the church for a cost of £750. This block extended to Tenterden Road at the time and a tennis court was erected there for use by both the church and the community.

In December 1930 the church made a successful application to build a garage attached to the rear of the church. It was originally made of timber but has since been replaced by a vestry in the 1960s. It was at this time also that the church appears to have been cement rendered (leaving the eastern wall of the church facing the manse un-rendered due to its extreme proximity to the building).

Like many churches in the area, attendance at Sunday services declined in the inter-war and post-war years. This was not helped by the changing of Parish Boundaries in 1938. In the 1940s the church began seeking avenues of revenue. The adjoining block of land with cottage purchased by the church in 1922 was subdivided into four allotments; Lots A and D (1557 Botany Road and 6-8 Tenterden Road) were sold in 1953 and 1955 respectively and Lot C (2 Tenterden Road) in 1994. The remaining lot which contained “Alethea” cottage is still owned by the church.

The last ordained minister to lead the Botany Church was Rev. M.A.Spence from 1958 to 1971. In 1985 Botany and Mascot congregations joined. The manse was leased on and off from the 1940s as various ministers chose to reside elsewhere.

Extensive cracking has been evident for several decades and while the sale of Lot C for $127,000 enabled the church to continue its occupation of the site, it was not sufficient to fund the extensive repairs required to the church. In 1997 Rev. Noah Nam was inducted as minister of the joint congregation and services were held monthly at the Botany Presbyterian Church building. The poor condition of the building, as well as the small number of attendees, meant by 2000 all services were being held in the Mascot Church building.

Following this date the Botany Church has been leased to several different Christian groups until the church use ceased and the current redevelopment was approved.

Background historical notes. The following has been extracted from City of Botany Bay: A Thematic History (2017) by Elizabeth Conroy. Please refer to this document, in particular Section 10.2 ‘The suburb of Botany’, for more information.

The Traditional Owners of Botany Bay

At the time of the arrival of the Europeans in 1770, the Australian continent was owned by over 400 different Aboriginal nations. For tens of thousands of years Aboriginal people had lived in the Sydney Basin, with cultural and archaeological evidence of occupation of the Botany Bay area for at least 5,000 years.

The traditional owners of Botany Bay are understood to have been the Kameygal, also spelt Gameygal, people and further south, the Bidjigal people. The Botany Bay area also hosted two major language groups; the Dharug (or more specifically, “Darug coastal”) to the north between Port Jackson (or even as far as Broken Bay) down to Botany Bay, and Dharawal from the southern shore of Botany Bay down to the Shoalhaven River.

The period between the first European occupation of land in the Botany District, around 1815, and 1850 was a time of mass disruption to traditional movement patterns and the cultural and spiritual practices of Aboriginal peoples. Netting of fish in Botany Bay by the colonists had depleted the fish stocks and lime burning had taken a massive toll on the availability of shellfish. The food supply and natural use of the land by Aboriginal people was also severely impacted by the demands of colonial settlement such as fencing and the rigorous cultivation that had begun to take place.

Early land grants

The first recorded grants of land to Europeans in the Botany Bay area was on 16 September 1809 to three ex-convicts; Edward Redmond (135 acres), Andrew Byrne (30 acres) and Mary Lewin (30 acres) (situated in the vicinity of today’s Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport). Tom White Melville Winder (1789-1853), was surveyed 700 acres in 1822, 417 acres of which were in the Botany District. The recipient of the largest and best-known grant in the Botany District was Simeon Lord (1770-1841). Lord was granted 600 acres in 1823 which encompassed the whole of the lower portion of the Lachlan watershed, and later made further purchases that brought his total land holding to over 735 acres.

The other major land holder in the area was the Crown which held 4,195 acres of land in a reserve known as the ‘Church and School Estate’. It was intended to provide the Crown with money through the subdivision and sale of the land to fund the Anglican clergy and parochial schools, but by 1833 the scheme had been abolished. Much of the land in the Botany District was not released for sale until the late 19th century.

The development of Botany
The three major landholders, Lord, Winder and the Crown, in the formative early phase in the area’s history meant that most of the land was essentially bound up in a stronghold between two wealthy magnates and the Government who each depended on the swampy wetlands for their industries and profits and who had little interest in subdividing it for sale into residential and commercial lots. In effect this somewhat quarantined the early Botany District for most of the 19th century from the building booms and busts that were shaping the rest of Sydney at this time. Access to the lower part of the Botany District was difficult and the main option in the early years, apart from a network of informal tracks through the swamps, was to travel to Sydney by water around the coast. The first attempt to make a formal road to the area was made in 1813. Due to much of its land being held by either the Crown or by the Lord family, by the 1860s Botany’s relative isolation and still sparse settlement meant its roads, public transport and utilities were deemed to be ‘behind’ those of Sydney suburbs. Land sales and residential development were slow to take off in Botany, with traditional industries such as fishing and market gardening being the main activities for many years. This isolated quality was however advantageous to one particular industry, that of noxious trades. Tanneries, wool-scours and boiling-down works flocked to Botany after being pushed out of Sydney by the Noxious Trades Act of 1848. Botany was able to satisfy needs for flat, cheap land with the copious water supply and ready drainage that was demanded by these industries. The proportion of the suburb available for residential development increased significantly following the large-scale release of ‘Lord’s Estate’ from 1863, with most of the area covered by modest detached cottages over the next 50 years. Botany benefited particularly from the introduction of a tram service down Botany Road towards Banksmeadow in 1882. By 1888 the area was sufficiently populated and motivated to seek (and subsequently gained) incorporation as a Municipality. Large-scale industries continued to operate in the suburb throughout the first half of the 20th century. Noxious trades continued to operate along the edge of the wetlands until after World War Two, however these have now largely ceased and the main industrial activity today in Botany is associated with the freight-handling industry servicing both Kingsford Smith Airport and Port Botany.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanBotany Bay LEP 2013I5921 Jun 13 2013/133 
Local Environmental Plan - LapsedBotany LEP 19955925 Feb 00 291464

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Botany Heritage Study19962.61Tropman & Tropman  No
City of Botany Bay Heritage Review2018 E. & R. Conroy  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenElizabeth Conroy2017City of Botany Bay: A Thematic History
WrittenNBRS&P2015Statement of Heritage Impact - Former Presbyterian Church Site, 1559-1563 Botany Road, Botany
WrittenNBRS&P2006Botany Presbyterian Church, Manse & Cottage - 1559-1563 Botany Road, Botany
WrittenTropman and Tropman Architects2014Heritage Advice Report Botany Presbyterian Church 1882, Manse 1896 and Cottage C1880

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: 1210059

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