All Saints Anglican Church and Grounds | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


All Saints Anglican Church and Grounds

Item details

Name of item: All Saints Anglican Church and Grounds
Other name/s: All Saints Church of England Church
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 28 Kemp street, West kempsey, NSW 2440
Parish: Yarravel
County: Dudley
Local govt. area: Kempsey


Frontage to Kemp Street, bounded on the north by Marsh Street and on the west by Sea Street.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
28 Kemp streetWest kempseyKempseyYarravelDudleyPrimary Address
Marsh streetWest kempseyKempsey  Alternate Address
Sea streetWest kempseyKempsey  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

All Saints Anglican Church is significant for its historical associations, aesthetic qualities and social meaning. The church is linked with original Anglican church services which began in the Kempsey area during the 1850s when the Rev. Frederick Kemp travelled from Port Macquarie to administer to the parishioners. All Saints Anglican Church is described as exemplifying the gothic architecture of English rural churches.
Date significance updated: 21 Sep 04
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: not known
Builder/Maker: not known
Construction years: 1883-1902
Physical description: The church has been described as an example of Gothic architecture of English rural churches, characterised by steeply pitched roof long nave and short gabled transept crossing a single geometrical apse. Other features are the pointed arch fenestration, buttress walls and lancet windows and plaster label moulds with decorative bosses internally. The timber scissors truss ceiling inside is found in other north coast churches. At some time stucco was applied to the outer walls, probably in 1913 when other restoration work was being carried out.
Stained glass windows tell the story of some of the valley's early history.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The church is at present undergoing major maintenance.
Date condition updated:09 Nov 06
Modifications and dates: 1890
Current use: Church Services
Former use: Church Services


Historical notes: The land for the church and vicarage was dedicated in February 1873, yet it was to be another ten years before there was any activity on the acre plus site. Contemporary church records are now non-existent until 1885, but it is a fact that the foundation stone of the present building was laid by Mrs. Sydney Verge on October 11, 1883. Proof of this was the inscribed silver trowel used by Mrs. Verge which was found in a Sydney antique dealer's shop. The three hundred dollars to purchase it was provided largely by Mr. Arthur Slack.
Because of difficulties in raising finance, parishioners decided to build a temporary church of timber with a view to using it eventually as a vicarage.
Controversy centered around the incumbent, one Rev. Turner when he arrived in 1884 and was "paid off" in 1889. He may have lived in a fairly crude building of a slab timbers on the Marsh Street side of the temporary church. The building was not demolished until the new parish hall was built in 1959.
It is interesting to find that John Horbury Hunt, eminent Sydney architect, agreed to design the church. His drawings, in preparation during 1878 were evidently favourably received, for he called tenders for the work in August of that year.
However, much to Hunt's consternation after making the arduous 36 hour steamer journey to Kempsey to see the work begin, he was informed of the building committee's decision not only to terminate the commission, but also to refuse to pay for the drawings.
Hunt resorted to the Supreme Court, where he was awarded a judgement of thirty pounds plus five pounds cost. Records do not reveal the new architect or the builder. In April 1890, the building programme was once again being discussed. Money had to be raised to cleat the debts and work parties were set up to restructure the finances and complete the building. There was willingness to contribute and to participate. By 1892 the first service was held in the unfinished building.
The Rev. R. H. Phillips, incumbent of St. John The Divine at Taree, conducted the service.
The debt was cleared in 1904 and the church dedicated. The distinctive conical spire was not added until 1913 by which time the tower had been buried under ivy.
The bell which rang its first message on Sunday 29th 1885, was by 1913 taken from its wooden frame and hoisted to its new position. According to a description in 1885, the bell had a full rich tone that could be heard for a distance of over a mile. Set in key C it weighed 187 lbs. ( 984.7kgs), cost 25 pounds ($500) and was supplied by the English firm of Read and Warner.
In 1913 outstanding work was finished on the church. Pews were installed, entrance steps were constructed and the inner roof cleaned and the interior walls kalsomined. The cost was on hundred pounds.
That year the new pipe organ was installed and opened for use on 11th December. The new organ, the first built on the Macleay, was installed by the British Piano Company. It was encased in maple and Tasmanian blackwood. It has a manual tracker action with five stops of 12, 8 and 4 feet and has over 200 pipes.
In March 1929 a major restoration was begun when it was found that the roof in particular and the walls were in a deplorable condition. While the foundations were sound and the walls showed no serious cracks, the repairs were to cost over 1000 pounds, a commitment that gave the parish a good church without having to find some 10,000 pounds to build a new church. A church restoration expert from Maitland, Mr. Partridge Wall carried out the work. It is likely that the stucco was applied at this period for photographs taken a few years earlier show the building to be of standstock brick. Other renovations have been carried out in subsequent years late in the 1950's and 1970's.
The building is what is known as the cruciform, the nave being 73 ft. long and 82 ft. wide, the two transepts are 49 ft from north to south and 24 & half ft from east to west. For some ecclesiastical reason the foundations were altered during the incumbency of the Rev. Turner and the front of the building was built to face the west.

An interim heritage order was placed on the church in 1983. When this was not taken up the listing lapsed.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
All Saints Anglican Church is historically significant as it is linked with the early settlement of the Macleay Valley. The church has been the centre of church activities and the associated committees since 1885.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
All Saints Anglican Church has a special association with the local people who provided personally for the financing of the church buildings and the ministers who were appointed to the parish. When All Saints was built, government funding to religion had been abolished. The Macleay residents had to wait until their numbers grew or times were more prosperous before they could afford to build a substantial church.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
All Saints Anglican Church is aesthetically significant being described as resembling the Gothic appearance of English rural churches. The building is an attractive landmark in the group of buildings in Kemp Street/Sea Street area of West Kempsey. The church is placed amongst buildings which are similarly of historical significance. The position of the church presents a pleasing pciture distinguished by its use of stucco and the prominent conical spire.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
All Saints Anglican Church is a prominent structure and a local landmark and has been the centre of religious activities for over a hundred years. Spiritual music marking special seasons has been presented in the church and the accoustics have been highly praised.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site has some potential to provide archaeological information relating to previous buildings and outbuildings associated with the age of the grounds.
SHR Criteria f)
All Saints Anglican Church is described as a fine example of the Gothic architecture relating to English rural churches.
SHR Criteria g)
All Saints Anglican Church represents a style of church which gave the town a sense of place. The scissors truss ceiling is repeated in other churches on the north coast.
Integrity/Intactness: Since the tower and the bell have been incorporated into the building the church has not been altered externally except to put in place an access for people with limited mobility.
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:


Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Statutory InstrumentNominate for State Heritage Register (SHR)16 Sep 05


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Regional Environmental Plan     
Local Environmental PlanKempsey LEP 2013i9303 Feb 14   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnglican Files MRHS  
WrittenIbid 19th December 1913  
WrittenMacleay Argus Newspaper 9th February 1892  
WrittenPatricia Riggs Illustrations by Tony Nolan1988A portrait of Kempsey

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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1850133
File number: S90/04189

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