St John's Church of England Church Group Including Church and Interior, Rectory | NSW Environment & Heritage

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St John's Church of England Church Group Including Church and Interior, Rectory

Item details

Name of item: St John's Church of England Church Group Including Church and Interior, Rectory
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 120 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
120 Darlinghurst RoadDarlinghurstSydneyAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

St John's Church with its rectory, grounds and fence form the most intact 19th century group of church buildings in Sydney. The church building with its tower, spire, transepts and chancel is one of the few unaltered Edmund Blacket buildings in Australia and is the most richly executed Gothic Revival parish church in Australia.
Date significance updated: 18 May 07
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.

Description

Designer/Maker: Goold and Hilling; Edmund Blacket
Builder/Maker: Aaron Loveridge
Construction years: 1858-1885
Physical description: St Johns Church of England Group includes:
Two storey sandstone Victorian Gothic style church; Two storey Victorian Free Classical style rectory; and sandstone and iron fences and gates.

"The St John's Church Group comprising church, rectory and stone fencing is a fine example of a Gothic Revival Parish Church with "exceptionally well-designed later editions by Edmund Blacket, and which by reason of its size occupies a prominent position on the Darlinghurst Ridge". (National Trust)

The walls of the tower are of dressed ashlar in 12" courses, sparrow picked generally with tooled margins.

The spire is of stone and has an early stone fleur-de-lis on top. A lightning conductor is mounted on top and runs down the east face of the spire.

The tower is independent of the original 1858 church on a separate 1872 foundation and consists of 4 stories: Ground floor - Serves as porch to west entrance; First floor - Bellringers; Second floor - To keep noise of bells from church and ringers. Contains an inoperative clock; Third floor - open to air by 4 large windows." (State Heritage Register Inventory sheet).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Fair condition - regular inspections and make-safe work needed in current condition of tower and spire.
Date condition updated:18 May 07
Further information: Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.

History

Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.

"Nineteenth century Sydneysiders who wanted a home with a view knew that Darlinghurst was the place to build. The highest point in inner Sydney is near the corner of Darley Street and Darley Place. By the middle of the century this had become a fashionable residential area. Mansions were built, particularly towards the harbour where there were water views. The people of Darlinghurst then built themselves a church.

St John's Church was built by newly wealthy people to recreate something they knew in England. It was a time when church going and church support were fashionable, and the colonial congregation of successful people had no trouble paying for this imposing and beautiful structure.

In 1856 the foundation stone was laid "in the presence of a large and respectable assembly" said the newspaper EMPIRE, 29/12/1856.

In 1858 the sandstone neo-gothic building seating 700 was opened. The building was decorated with windows and plaques, most of which commemorate the lives and service of the resident's class of people. But this was only the nave. Allowance had been made for the later addition of a chancel, tower and transepts.

Without the tower it was a beautiful, ornate building, but it was not good enough for the people of Darlinghurst. In 1871 one benefactor said that while the inside was fine, the church was "unsightly from the road and a discredit to the parish".
Following such agitation, the transepts, tower and spire were added by 1875, and the chancel by 1885.
(Notes from the work of the historian Paul Egan - taken from "A Stroll around St John's" 24/1/1993)

Stage 1 of St Johns - the nave, aisles and north porch - was the work of the architectural firm Goold and Hilling. Their decorated Gothic design would b more acclaimed if Edmund Blacket had not come to dominate church architecture in Sydney.

In 1871 Blacket commenced work on the unusually ornate tower and spire. The tower is the major feature of the building. Because Blacket's additions are so prominent, St John's "now owes precious little of its outward appearance to Goold and Hilling" (Herman), though Blacket's design work is seen only in the large windows at the end of each transept, the tower and spire, the floor tiling and the reredos." (from State Heritage Inventory sheet)

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)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
St John's Church with its rectory, grounds and fence form the most intact 19th century group of church buildings in Sydney. The church building with its tower, spire, transepts and chancel is one of the few unaltered Edmund Blacket buildings in Australia and is the most richly executed Gothic Revival parish church in Australia.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The tower and spire make a major contribution to the Darlinghurst streetscape, with the advantage of a prominent position
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The tower and spire dominate the surrounding buildings and mark a place of peace and refuge in Kings Cross. St John's reflects the growthh and changes of the local community over the years.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
It is one of the most intact 19th Century group of church buildings in Sydney, and one of the few unaltered Edmund Blacket buildings in Australia.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
St John's church is an excellent example of the English "medieval parish church" style built in Australia during the 19th Century.
St John's church is an excellent example of the English "medieval parish church" style built in Australia during the 19th Century.
St John's church is an excellent example of the English "medieval parish church" style built in Australia during the 19th Century.
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:

St John's Church with its rectory, grounds and fence are to be should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the site prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the heritage buildings and no alterations to the fa├žade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydeny LEP 2012I27914 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenHeritage office of NSW State Heritage Inventory sheet for St. John's Church & Rectory

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: 2420153
File number: HC 32550, S90/01767


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