St Andrew’s Congregational Church | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


St Andrew’s Congregational Church

Item details

Name of item: St Andrew’s Congregational Church
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 217-223 Darling Street, Balmain, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
217-223 Darling StreetBalmainLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

St Andrews Congregational Church complex is of local historic and social significance as it demonstrates the growth and development of Balmain and local Congregational community. The Church building is of local historic, aesthetic, technological and social significance as an early stone Victorian Free Gothic style Church constructed in 1854-55. The Church and associated Halls retain their original form, scale and details particularly the stone façade and roof and associated details and prominent tower and stone spire. It significantly continues to be used by the local Congregational community. The building occupies a prominent corner site, is enhanced by its boundary fence and plantings and as such is a lnadmark building. The building and site and associated elements also have townscape values and makes a positive contribution to the Darling Street and Curtis Road streetscapes.

Note: This inventory sheet is not intended to be a definitive study of the heritage item, therefore information may not be accurate and complete. The information should be regarded as a general guide. Further research is always recommended as part of the preparation of development proposals for heritage items.
Date significance updated: 14 Jun 11
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: John Goold, of Goold and Field (Church, 1854), J McDonald (School Hall, 1871)
Builder/Maker: William Burt
Construction years: 1854-1855
Physical description: The Church site is bounded by Darling Street and Curtis Road and is occupied by three main buildings. The Church (1854) is a face stone structure with gable roof clad in slates with small vented gablets near the ridge and triangular dormers above the eaves with timber framed windows with quatrefoil detail. A stone tower topped by a stone stepped spire is located at the eastern end of the building and faces the Darling Street and Curtis Road corner. The main facades articulated by projecting stone buttresses, string courses, plinth/ base detail and label moulds around the openings. The building has leaded, pointed arched and tracery windows and timber latched doors. A gabled portico faces Darling Street. A similarly detailed stone School Hall (1871) is located in the north western section of the site and extends from the western end of the Church toward the Curtis Road boundary. A lightweight infill with amenities connects the School Hall and Church. A rendered brick Soldiers Memorial Hall (1919) is attached to the western end of the Church. The Hall also features gabled roofed entry and portico.
The buildings are setback from the Darling Street and Curtis Road frontages which features palisade gates and fence on a stone base and rendered brick base along part of the Curtis Road frontage. A high fence is located at the western end of the Curtis Road boundary. Concrete block, asphalted and stone flagged paving and edging is located around the buildings, garden beds and site tress including large camphor laurels at the corner and jacarandas around the site. Two large piers and narrow vehicular entry is located at the corner. A new garden area has been added to the front area along the Darling Street frontage.
A plaque commemorates WWI veterans. The Hall was a meeting place for returning veterans in Balmain. The plaque lists Capt. H L Henley. Leslie Henley was killed in action on 15 August 1916, aged 23, and is also commemorated at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. He had been a second year undergraduate in Arts at Sydney University at the time of enlistment. It is possible he is commemorated in the University's quadrangle tower gate. His father, Thomas Henley, who was knighted (KBE) in 1920 for his efforts in administering the Citizens' 'War Chest' Fund, erected a large stained-glass memorial to Leslie Henley in the northern transept window of the Presbyterian Church in Drummoyne.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In good condition. Some of the stone work is spalling and fretting and some staining and moss is evident around the base of the building. Several trees, tree stumps and gardens beds are also located around the building which may contribute to damp and affect the stone. The stonework of the fence is also deteriorated. Some previous repairs, repointing and patching is evident. Steel straps and bracing have been fixed to the tower and are rusted.
Modifications and dates: 1988: Construction of new amenties (88/387).
2002: Removal of heritage fig tree within the grounds of St Andrews Church, overhanging Darling Street (D/2002/762).
Further information: The garden area located close to the Darling Street is bounded by a low concrete block wall with native plants and timber arch and appears to have replaced the Morton Bay Fig tree that was removed in c. 2002.
Current use: Church and associated halls
Former use: Church and associated halls


Historical notes: The site is part of 550 acres originally granted to William Balmain in 1800 and transferred to fellow surgeon John Gilchrist in 1801. Gilchrist never actually lived in NSW and started to subdivide and sell in 1823. The first sale did not proceed well and it was not until the 1840s that subsequent subdivisions and sales in the area progressed.
Services for Congregational members commenced in 1853 in a small weatherboard building located on the corner of Darling and Cooper Streets. At a special meeting held in April 1854 the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches united and agreed to erect a stone church primarily from finds supplied by the Congregational Building Society of England and Wales.
The Independent Church, as it was sometimes called was to the building by William Burt of Jane Street of locally quarried stone. The site has been presented to the Trustees of the Church by Robert T Ford. The architects of the building were Messrs Goold and Field and the design was 13th century Gothic. It was to have a Gallery at the east end capable of seating 500 persons. The foundation stone was laid on 3 August 1854 and Church officially opened just over a year later on 16 August 1855. The slate roof was not quite completed at this time. The Church was led by a number of pastors and continued through the division of the Presbyterian section of the Church in 1857. 1874 saw the completion of the Church Hall and in 1884 the organ was installed. The organ was by Walker of London and dated 1867. The side porch was built in about 1886.
A Sydney Water Plan (Balmain Sheet No. 30) dating from the 1880s and revised in 1890s shows the triangular shaped site. The Church is clear with entry porch at the south eastern end of the Church. Another small porch, which is shaded indicating that it was a later addition, is shown on the Darling Street façade. Another building, annotated as the “School” is also clear extending from the north western corner of the Church to the Curtis Street frontage. A small addition is also shown attached to the south western corner of the School.
The Church continued to develop. A rendered brick Soldiers Memorial Hall was added to the western end of the Church building in 1918. The Soldiers Memorial Hall was opened on Saturday 25 October 1919 (Sydney Morning Herald, Oct 27 1919, pg.6). The Hall was intended to function as a kindergarten hall, presumably for infants attending the church's Sunday school. Renovations were completed in the 1930s when the vestibule was enlarged and a new floor built. The Church survived re-development pressures of the 1960s and by the 1970s was in need of extensive restoration and repairs which the small congregation could not afford. Some income was gained from Saturday Markets held on the grounds since the mid 1970s, however, after some appeal it was a NSW Heritage Council grant in 1981 that assured the ongoing life of the building.
New amenities were constructed in c. 1988. By 1996 there were concerns about a large Morton Bay Fig tree on the Church grounds. The tree which was about 140 years old at this time and said to be one of the oldest in the suburb was ill with roots affected by wear and tear and use of the site. In 2002 an application for the removal of the tree was approved by Council.

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 Growth of Balmain-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Growth of Balmain-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site and Church complex is of high local historic significance as part of an early subdivision and early Congregational Church with Church building constructed in 1854-55. The additions and changes to the site and Church facilities reflect the growth and development of the local area and congregation.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Since 1853 the complex has been associated with the Congregational community who have significantly continued to use and maintain the buildings and site.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Church building is of high local aesthetic significance as a largely intact and excellent example of a Victorian Free Gothic Church constructed in 1854-55. Despite the various additions to the building the building retains a sense of its overall form, character and details particularly original stone façades and roof and associated decorative details and prominent tower and stone spire. The building occupies a prominent corner site and is a local landmark heightened by the form of the building and particularly steep roof, tower and spire . The building and associated elements including Church Halls, palisade and stone fence and landscaping contribute to the signficance and character of the site. Combined they have townscape quality and make a positive contribution to the Darling Street and Curtis Road streetscapes.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building is of high social significance to the local Congregational community who have worshipped here and have occupied the site since the 1850s.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Church is constructed of locally quarried stone and retains evidence from all of its development stages which may reveal information about the growth and development and changing requirements of the local area.
SHR Criteria f)
The Church is a relatively rare example of an early stone Victorian Free Gothic Church constructed in the 1850s.
Integrity/Intactness: High
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:

It is recommended that: - the existing scale, character and gothic details of the Church building and Halls including stone and rendered brick façades, buttresses, pattern of openings and associated details, slate roof and associated vented gablets and dormer elements, tower and stone spire and gabled entry porticos should be retained and conserved; - no new additions or enclosures should be added the building façades and existing entries; - the face stone should remain face stone and unpainted and surfaces that have previously been painted, such as the rendered walls, timber and metalwork should continue to be painted in appropriate colours; - no new openings should be made to the main facades; - the existing palisade, stone and rendered fences should be retained and conserved with any repairs or replacement to match the existing; - considered should be given to the removal of stone or hard paved surfaces at the base of the stone walls to prevent soiling and water damage; - planting and trees, including stumps, should preferably be removed from the base of the stone walls and façade to prevent any ongoing damage; - planting and open setting should be retained around the buildings.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I19123 Dec 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990 McDonald McPhee Pty Ltd (Craig Burton, Wendy Thorp)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenMax Solling and Peter Reynolds1997Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City

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: 1940206

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