St John's Anglican Church and gravestones | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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St John's Anglican Church and gravestones

Item details

Name of item: St John's Anglican Church and gravestones
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 1624 Pittwater Road, Mona Vale, NSW 2103
Parish: Narrabeen
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Pittwater


Lot 2 DP 709457
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1624 Pittwater RoadMona ValePittwaterNarrabeenCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

St John's Anglican Church is historically significant as one of the earliest churches of Pittwater. It was built in 1871 and relocated to Bayview in 1888. It was demolished and rebuilt in 1907.

It is socially significant due to its being one of the earliest Churches built by the Anglican community in the area.

Group of three relocated headstones typical of the late nineteenth century design, removed from lost grave sites on Mona Vale Headland. The group includes a memorial to a worker killed during the erection of Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
Date significance updated: 09 Jan 15
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.


Builder/Maker: James Booth, Stonemason
Physical description: St Johns Anglican Church is a sandstone one-storey church located on Pittwater Road with a later modern addition. It is built in a simple style featuring Victorian Rustic Gothic characteristics, including: a steep-pitch roof, prominent gable with wide bargeboard, two-centred pointed arched opening.

On the western elevation there are three sandstone gravestones. One commemorates the death of William F Stark and was "erected by his fellow workmen as a mark of respect" and inscribed "accidentally killed during the erection of the New Lighthouse at Barrenjoey, Wednesday 16th February 1881". (Blumer 197, Sparks 1992)). The other two headstones and are actually two pieces of a headstone for Priscilla Wilson, died aged 2, daughter of Frances and Thomas Wilson (Pauling, 12).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Appears to be in relatively good condition externally.
Date condition updated:21 May 14
Modifications and dates: A side porch was added in 1955. Further alterations and additions were undertaken in 1971 and 1982. The original roof was probably been replaced during these restorations.
Current use: Place of public worship


Historical notes: St Johns Anglican Church was the first religious building built in 1871 in the Pittwater LGA, followed in the following year by the Church Point Chapel.

The first St John's Anglican Church was a small weatherboard structure built in 1871 overlooking Mona Vale Beach on some land given by Mr Edward Darley in Bongan Bongan Beach. Because its community was gradually leaving the area, in 1888 the church was moved to a new site in Bayview on the present golf course. It was placed on wheels and moved by bullocks. Some of the Pittwater pioneers were buried alongside the former church ground and the headstones disappeared after the church was moved away.

In 1906-7, after 35 years of service, the old weatherboard Church, in a very bad state of decay, was demolished and completely rebuilt in its current location. A new stone church with a temporary east end was built in Pittwater Road nearer the village of Turimetta (Mona Vale) on the present site and was opened for worship on 4th February 1907. In 1971, the east end was modified by an attractive timber lining and a neat external shell. The cost of this work was kept to a minimum by voluntary labour. In 1982, the Church was further extended.

The phenomenal growth of the Parish by housing development during the 1950s & 1960s emphasised the need for forward planning in extensions of the Church. The present building has a unique charm of its own and is greatly admired by visitors, and every effort will be made to preserve its individuality and to design extensions which are in harmony with it (Blumer 1971).

The graves marked by the headstones were closer to the former church. It was reported in 1946 that early Pittwater pioneers were buried near the church site but the graves were neglected and the headstones had disappeared. William Stark and George Cobb both of whom were killed in the erection of Barrenjoey Lighthouse were buried here and also John Morris a fisherman of Broken Bay who died 19 April 1878, aged 45 years (Gledhill 138). In 1958, the headstones were re discovered in excavations on properties on the south side of Grandview Parade, Mona Vale. They were removed to the present St John's Church site in Pittwater Road, Mona Vale. (Blumer 1971). The remains of William Stark were removed to Manly cemetery (Sparks 1992).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
St John's Anglican Church is historically significant as one of the earliest churches of Pittwater. It was built in 1871 and relocated to Bayview in 1888. It was demolished and rebuilt in sandstone in 1907.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The church is associated with the Anglican community.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
St John's Anglican Church is aesthetically significant as a sandstone Victorian Rustic Gothic church.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
It is socially significant due to it being one of the earliest churches built by the Anglican community in the area.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The house has potential to provide evidence on the construction system of early Victorian Rustic Gothic churches.
SHR Criteria f)
One of the most intact sandstone churches of the early Pittwater development.
SHR Criteria g)
Representative of sandstone churches of the early Pittwater development.
Integrity/Intactness: 1907 church is still intact.
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:

The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan  04 Feb 94   
Local Environmental PlanPittwater Local Environmental Plan 2014227016827 Jun 14   
Heritage study 00079 271546

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Pittwater Community Based Heritage Study Review2015 City Plan Heritage  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenEric Blumer1971The First Hundred Years: St John's Church of England Mona Vale
WrittenJ.S.N. Wheeler A Lost Cemetery
WrittenP C Gledhill1946Manly & Pitttwater Its Beauty & Progress

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: 2270168

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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