St John's Presbyterian Church Group including buildings and their interiors, and grounds | NSW Environment & Heritage

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St John's Presbyterian Church Group including buildings and their interiors, and grounds

Item details

Name of item: St John's Presbyterian Church Group including buildings and their interiors, and grounds
Other name/s: Includes Church, Old Manse and New Manse
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 261-263 Oxford Street, Paddington, NSW 2021
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
261-263 Oxford StreetPaddingtonSydneyAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The St. John's Presbyterian Church Group, Paddington comprises the site and three buildings, the Old Manse (1845), the Church (1859) with attached Church Hall (1885-1886) and the New Manse (1904). This church complex has had a longstanding association with the Paddington community in general and with the Presbyterian Community in particular. The lease of the original church land grants and the subsequent speculator developemnt reflects the late ninetheenth century process of urban consolidation in Paddington.

The Old Manse, a two storey Colonial Georgian Structure, was the first denominational school established in Paddington and is now ( albeit altered and extended) the only such colonial period school building of this date extant in Paddington and south-east Sydney. The form of the original construction is a rare example of a Georgian style school house built in Australasia.

St. John's Church is arguably the first church established in Paddington and is ( albeit altered and extended ) the only extant church dating from the mid - nineteenth century in Paddington. It is an example of a Picturesque Gothic church building, a type that was once common in Australia in the first half of the nineteenth century, but now relatively rarely seen outside Tasmainia. It is an important example of work by colonial architect Henry Robertson. The 1885 church hall additions to the church are aesthetically significant as the work of David McBeath and socially and historically significant as they illustrate the changing needs of the Presbyterian congregation in the late 19th century.

The New Manse is significant as a good example of a substantial Federation Arts & Crafts style dwelling, the work of well known architect of the period, Charles Slatyer.
Date significance updated: 27 Feb 14
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: Henry Robertson (Church); David McBeath (Church Hall); Charles H. Slatyer (New Manse);
Construction years: 1845-
Physical description: St John's Presbyterian Church Group includes:
A single storey Victorian Picturesque Gothic style sandstone church erected in 1859 and altered and extended in 1886 by the addition of a large hall of brick construction at the rear of the C\church and by the replacement of old overhanging eaves with stone parapets and box gutters. The church features a gabled roof clad in slate, buttressed walls and lancet windows. The Church and Hall forms the shape of a Latin cross-style plan. The internal walls to the church are rendered and display four memorial plaques.

The Old Manse is a two storey Colonial Georgian style building, 1845, with later additions. The original configuration was as a simple two storey massing with gable ended walls. The building is symmetrical with the principal construction material being sandstone. The corners are embellished with decorative quoining. There are beaded fascia and barge boards and window sills are of stone. The building was subsequently extended to the rear and by the 1890s was fitted with a two storey bull nose cast iron verandah. The roof is of corrugated zinculume, added following the extensive damage caused by fire in 1990.

The new manse is a two storey Federation Arts and Crafts style house (No. 1 Regent Street), c. 1904 to a design by Architect, Charles H. Slatyer. The façade features face brickwork, with the upper level being finished with a coarse pebble dash. All windows have a bull nosed brick sill. The ground floor level windows have an arched head course whilst the first floor have roughcast heads. On the north elevation, there is a tower over the entrance with a casement window assembly to the porch, and Art Nouveau style masonry and timber belvedere at tower level. The roof is clad in slate with terracotta hips and ridges, with the front verandah continuous with the main roof. Significant internal fabric includes the timber joinery and fire places.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The general condition of the exterior of all buildings range from poor to good. The New Manse appears to be in excellent condition.
Date condition updated:10 Jul 03
Modifications and dates: 1885
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.
Current use: Vacant ( 1996 - 2014)
Former use: School, church and manse


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.

The Crown granted in March 1845 a site in Paddington to Reverend John McGarvie and trustees for the erecting of a Presbyterian School. The Old Manse was constructed on the site as a suitable temporary church and school. The cost of the two storey Colonial Georgian building was listed at two hundred and forty pounds. The low construction cost has been attributed to the use of rejected sandstone from the Victoria Barracks. An 1855 inspection reported accommodation for eighty children within the school room. Construction started in 1855 on the St John's Church. The foundation stone of the early portion of the church was laid in October 1855, by Thomas Barker, Convenor of the Education Committee of the Synod of Australia. Beneath the corner stone was laid a bottle containing a record of the event, coins and copies of the "Empire" and "Sydney Morning Herald". Construction was completed in 1859, with the Church recorded as costing around 2,500 pounds. Henry Robertson designed the St. John's Church and was considered one of the first constructed in the Sydney suburbs. Five Presbyterian Churches had already been constructed in the city. The New Manse was constructed in 1904. The foundation stone was laid in April 1904 by the then Governor, Sir Harry Rawson. A mortgage was taken out to raise the eight hundred pounds necessary for the construction costs for the New Manse. Further evidence to support the financial strain on the church include the sale of 1 rood and 1/4 perches was made to the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, where the Commonwealth Bank now stands.

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 is significant as it is representative of the historical and social development of the suburb of Paddington from the mid 19th century. The Old Manse is the first denominational school established in Paddington.

It is a representiave example of a mid 19th to early 20th century Church complex with longstanding association with the Paddington community in general and with the Presbyterian Community in particular. The lease of the original church land grants and the subsequent speculator developemnt reflects the late ninetheenth century process of urban consolidation in Paddington.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
St John's is associated with nineteenth and early twentieth century architects Henry Robertson, Charles Slayter and David McBeath. The old Manse is also affiliated with the Victoria Barracks community through their period of construction and use of materials.

It also has a strong association with Presbyterian church figures including reverend Dr J. McGarvie and James Milne.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The three buildings comprising St John's exhibit demonstrably different architectural styles that are affiliated to ecclesiastical design. All are of good examples of their style and have varying degrees of external integrity.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The combination of three different buildings on the one site spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries provide an insight into the spiritual and cultural development of the Paddington community.
SHR Criteria f)
The Old Manse is a rare example of a Georgian style school house built in Australasia.
SHR Criteria g)
Representative example of a mid 19th to early 20th century Church complex with a longstanding association with the Paddington community in general and with the Presbyterian Community in particular.
Integrity/Intactness: Externally moderate.
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:

Stonework maintenance to St. John's Church and the Old Manse is considered urgent. The buildings on the site are to be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the heritage buildings and no alterations to the façades of these buildings 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 lesser significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I109014 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City View detail
WrittenGraham Brooks and Associates P/L2003St. John's Church Precinct, Paddington - Heritage Impact Assesment
WrittenTrevor Howells1999Statement of heritage impact of the proposed alterations and additions to the former St. John's Church, Old Manse and New Manse

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: 2421064

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