St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Presbytery & Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Presbytery & Precinct

Item details

Name of item: St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Presbytery & Precinct
Other name/s: Potentential Archaeological Site
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 1 Marist Place, North Parramatta, NSW 2150
Local govt. area: Parramatta
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1 Marist PlaceNorth ParramattaParramatta  Primary Address
Pennant Hills RoadNorth ParramattaParramatta  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

Professional, trade and manufacturing practice - example of the work of notable. Evidence of social and cultural life. Site possesses potential to contribute to an understanding early urban development in Parramatta.

The St Patrick's Cathedral Site is a rare and specific-purpose site dating from the early Colonial period. It has been continuously occupied since the 1820s for the primary purpose of worship. In addition to a surviving precinct of heritage buildings, the St Patrick's Site is predicted to contain the sites of other early buildings, landscape features, subsurface structure, archaeological deposits and other artefacts which are associated with the occupation of the major part of the site area from the opening decades of the nineteenth century. It is likely that the archaeological material present at the site would be able to contribute evidence not available from other sites or sources, that when analysed in conjunction with documentary evidence will provide additional information about the occupation and use of the site, including the living conditions on the early Parramatta town allotment. In this respect the St Patrick's Site is a scientific research resource with considerable archaeological research potential. (Lavelle 1997) National Trust (Parramatta Branch): Professional, trade and manufacturing practice - example of the work of notable persons or events - Evidence of social and cultural life - Site possesses the potential to contribute to an understanding of early urban development in Parramatta
Date significance updated: 05 Mar 02
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.


Construction years: 1820-
Physical description: ST PATRICKS CHURCH: Victorian Gothic stone church reusing stone and many elements of an earlier church on the site. In 1990 the square tower and spire are undergoing restoration work. St PATRICKS PRESBYTERY: Two storey Federation Filigree house with verandahs to three sides. Ground floor verandah is paved with geometric tiles. Massive chimney stacks adorn hipped roof. Cast iron verandah posts and balustrading. Archaeological Site: AZP Cross Reference: PN 87

The original topography of the St Patrick's Cathedral Site is still largely evident. The site is situated near the top of an east-west running ridge wich now carries modern Victoria Road. The site slopes gradually from north to south. The highest point of the site is the northwest corner, this is the area of the former Lot 2.

The site contains a number of large level areas. These include the large terrace on which the 1919 School building sits, which is retained by a sandstone wall to the east and a brick wall to the south. This suggests that the terrace may have been partly created by filling to provide a building platform. The extent church (1936) is also situated on a level area with a low retaining wall to the east. Some other buildings also occupy levelled areas, in particular, the 1950s Presbytery near the southern boundary, and the 1980s hall in the center of the site. For these two buildings, however, the levelling appears to have been created by partial cutting to create 'benched' areas within the natural slope of the site rather than by filling.

The St Patrick's Cathedral Site is relatively large, with boundries approximately 100 x 90 metres. Although the present site includes a number of major buildings, it is comparatively undeveloped in the sense that it also includes large areas of ground with very little structures. These include areas of driveways, car-parks, paving, lawns and gardens. Such areas are of interest archaeologicaly, as these types of developments are not likely to have caused any major disruption or disturbance to any previously existing sub-surface archaeological deposits. In addition to this, many of the present building, although quite substantial, lack either extensive footings or other subsurface items such as basements, cellers, etc. Many of the extant buildings have only strip and/or pier footings which are not likely to have required any extensive excavation at the time of construction. The installation of building services may also be expected to have required to have some disturbance of sub-surface areas from time to time, however, such disturbance will be relatively minor and will have only localised impact on any archaeological remains present below the groung. In this respect much of the present area of St Patrick's Cathedral Site, including both built upon and 'vacant' ground, may be considered relatively undisturbed in archaeological terms.

The inspection of sub-floor areas of the major buildings on the site generally confirmed an overall lack of any extensive disturbance. For example, the area below the sanctuary of the present Cathedral (1936 church) contains substantial sandstone footings wich appear to correlate with the position of the previous 1854 church in the same location. (Lavelle 1997) National Trust (Parramatta Branch): Fabric: Iron framework of rafters only. Sandstone faced brick walls. Roof Construction: Parapeted gable. Archit Style: Victorian Gothic sandstone faced church building. Constr Year: 1936. Tower and spire 1876
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Historical evedence indicates that the site is most likely contain archaeological "relics" and deposits from earlier phases of site use. Parts of the site were occupied and developed with ecclesiastical buildinga and structures from the 1820s.(Lavelle 97) National Trust (Parramatta Branch): Gutted by fire in 1995.
Date condition updated:05 Mar 02
Further information: CPS,


Historical notes: ST PATRICKS CHURCH: The site of the first Roman Catholic Church dedicated to St Patrick in Australia whose foundation stone was laid by Bishop Polding in 1836. This church was demolished in 1853 to make way for a Gothic style church designed by James Houison. The tower and spire were added to the Houison church in 1878-1883. These elements remained when the Houison church was pulled down and rebuilt as the present Church.PRESBYTERY: Purpose-built 1904, architect J. Hill, builder A.E. Gould . Archaeological Site Data Grant : St Patricks Roman Catholic School and Chapel, 31 March 1846. Sites of Buildings: 1844 map: school, chapel, 3 buildings masonry.

The present St Patrick's Cathedral Site includes several early Parramatta town allotments (or Lots), all within Section 1 of the town. These were Allotment (Lot) 1, Allotment (Lot) 2, and Allotment (Lot) 11.

Allotment 1:
Subscriptions were collected for the building of an RC Church from 1822. In 1827 Father Daniel Power requested formal grant of the church allotment. It was formally survayed as Lot 1, Section 1, Parramatta in 1835. Arrival of J B Polding, 1835. New church (70 x 40 feet) to be erected. Foundation stone laid on 17/3/1836 (St Patrick's Day). Completed by 1839. Church reported to be 'unstable' in 1853. The incomplete first church which had been commenced in the 1820s was converted to a schoolhouse. In 1843 a Presbytery was erected (south of the church). Formal land grant for the allotment was issued to the Trustees of the Church in 1846.
The foundation stone was laid for new St Patrick's Church 13/8/1854. This church was completed in 1859 (without the tower & spire). Tower completed -1878, spire 1883. The Marist Brothers took over the school in 1875. In 1881 the church acquired additional land (the adjoining lots - Lot 2 and Lot 11).
A monastery for the Marist Brothers was constructed in 1888 (within the area of Lot 2, west of the church). The 1840s Presbytery was demolished in 1904. A new Presbytery (Murphy House) was built in 1905. The old School (1820s building) was demolished in 1918. It was replaced by a new two story brick school & hall in 1919. The 1850s church was demolished in 1935 and a foundation stone was laid for a new church the same year. The new church opened 31/05/1936. This church gained the status of a Cathedral with the creation of the Diocese of Parramatta in 1986. The 1936 building (Cathedral) was gutted by fire in 1996
From the 1950s onwards several additional buildings have also been added to the site. These include the demolition of the Marist Brothers monastery, & construction of a new residential block, and the construction od a new Presbytery / Administration Bld, and ancillary structures: garages, fibro hall and other buildings. A new brick Hall, was built during the 1980s.

Lot 2, Section 1
This allotment was transferred from John Funnell to Samuel Mason in 1830. Mortgages refer to a dwelling house and other buildings as being on the allotment, buildings are shown on several 1830s plans. Later plans indicate that the configuration of the buildings was altered during the 1840s. In 1881 the allotment was acquired by the Catholic Church.

Lot 11, Section 1
This allotment was proclaimed for sail in 1845. Relevant maps show the allotment as vacant throughout the period. It was acquired by the Catholic Church in 1881. (Lavelle 1997) National Trust (Parramatta Branch): See 2242798, 1 Marist Place, Parramatta for Murphy House. | | St. Patrick's Cathedral was gutted by fire in 1995 when deliberately set alight. Roof, windows and interiors lost.. Spire removed for safety. | |

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
This item historically significant.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
This item is socially significant.
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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Regional Environmental PlanREP No 2836820 Aug 99 956161
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
City of Parramatta Heritage Study1993368Meredith Walker  Yes
Parramatta Heritage Review2004 National Trust (Parramatta Branch)  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGeoffrey Britton1996St Patrick's Cathedral and Site, Conservation plan, prepared for Diocese of Parramatta.
WrittenS Lavelle1997NSW State Heritage Inventory form

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: 2240368

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