St Andrew's Cathedral Group Including Interiors, Courtyard Spaces and Forecourts | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

About us

St Andrew's Cathedral Group Including Interiors, Courtyard Spaces and Forecourts

Item details

Name of item: St Andrew's Cathedral Group Including Interiors, Courtyard Spaces and Forecourts
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Cathedral
Location: Lat: -33.8755820190498 Long: 151.205200574338
Primary address: George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
George StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

St Andrew's Cathedral is historically significant as the oldest cathedral in Australia. It is central to the Sydney Diocese, and as such has had a long and complex ecclesiastical history. It has been associated with a number of events and people who have influenced the direction of the Church of England and Anglican Church in Australia. St Andrew's is aesthetically significant as an outstanding example of the Victorian Academic Gothic style in Australia. It occupies a prominent site at the corner of George and Bathurst Streets, adjacent to Sydney Town Hall. The cathedral is also associated with the work of a number of prominent clergy, statesmen, architects and craftsmen (including Bishop Broughton, Bishop Barker, James Hume, Edmund Blacket and Leslie Wilkinson). Its social significance derives from the large role it has played and continues to play in Anglican affairs, and in church education through its links with St Andrew's Cathedral school.
Date significance updated: 03 Jan 06
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: James Hume (1837); Edmund Blacket; Leslie Wilkinson; Chapter Hse - Cyril Blacket
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1837-1837
Physical description: St Andrew's Cathedral is comparable in size to an English parish church. The sandstone cathedral is cruciform in plan with two towers flanking what was the original entrance (western end). The internal layout has been altered since it was first built so that the altar is now located on the western wall, with the main entrance at the eastern end (George Street). The interior is approximately 49 metres long by 18 metres wide, and 20.7 metres high to the ridge. The intersection of the nave and transept is surmounted by a central tower. The columns and arcades are about 1.2 metres thick, while the piers supporting the central tower are well over two metres thick. Stained glass windows are located on all sides of the building and also in clerestory windows. The roof is richly decorated with pinnacles and crockets. The sandstone Chapter house is an octagonal building attached to the south-west tower by a cloister. It contains a meeting room and several small offices.

Category: Group of buildings; Individual building; Special precinct. Style: Victorian Academic Gothic. Storeys: 1 (Cathedral), 2 (Chapter House). Facade: Sandstone. Side/Rear Walls: Sandstone. Internal Walls: Sandstone. Roof Cladding: Slate tile. Internal Structure: Loadbearing walls & timber beams. Floor: Tile ; Marble (Cathedral); Timber ; Tile (Chapter House). Roof:Timber trusses. Ceilings: Boarded timber (Painted). Stairs: Stone, timber.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
While in need of continuing maintenance, the building is in reasonably good condition.Intrusive Elements:Glass screen and door at north porch, light fittings, speakers.
Date condition updated:07 Dec 05
Modifications and dates: Cathedral 1837-42; 1855-68; Chapter House 1884
Further information: High Significance: Stonework, roof structure and finish, joinery, internal finishes, memorials, internal and external metalwork, stained glass, organs, alabaster reredos.
Medium Significance: Bells.
Low Significance: Recent signage adjacent to eastern entrance.
The place was a heritage item in 1989 and has remained so to the present.
Listed on the State Heritage Register on 3 September 2004 in Government Gazette no. 142. Note that the SHR listing incorrectly shows the address as 1440 George Street.

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: Church
Former use: Church


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. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.
(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City )

Governor Macquarie and Francis Greenway set a stone in the area for a Church of England church in 1820, although the site was left vacant until the 1830s when James Hume and Bishop Broughton designed the original portion of the nave (completed 1837). Edmund Blacket took over as architect from Hume in 1846, and was responsible for substantially completing the building in the Victorian Academic Gothic style. A temporary wooden church was built in 1842 to the north of the cathedral site and served as the parish church and procathedral for 25 years, until the new cathedral was opened. The interior of the church is entirely Blacket's work and contains some fine stained glass executed by John Hardman & Co. of Birmingham (United Kingdom), set in Perpendicular Gothic traceries. Unlike other early churches in Sydney (eg Christ Church St Laurence and St Mary's) the columns were of stone instead of timber. The massive columns were built of Sydney stone whose load-bearing capacity was then unknown.

The Chapter House was commenced in 1884 as a memorial to Bishop Barker and to provide a meeting place for the diocesan synod. It was designed by Blacket Brothers, and is attached to the south western tower by a cloister. In 1916 the Chapter House was doubled in size by extension to the east, and a basement created. From 1886 the Chapter House also housed the Provincial Synod of New South Wales and of the General Synod of the Church of England in Australia.

The site of the Cathedral has been reduced over the years, but in 1935 the Saint Andrew's Cathedral Site Act was passed providing security of tenure and giving an acre of land between the Cathedral and Kent Street as compensation for previous encroachments.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
St Andrew's Cathedral is the oldest Cathedral in Australia. It has a long and complex ecclesiastical history, and has played a key role in the spiritual development of Australia. The building is associated with a number of prominent people including successive archbishops of Sydney, Bishop Broughton, James Hume, Edmund Blacket and Leslie Wilkinson. Has historic significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
St Andrew's Cathedral is located adjacent to the site of one of the earliest cemeteries in Australia, and archaeological deposits are likely to contain information about the early European inhabitants of Australia. The building also has the potential to reveal information on construction methods no longer in use. Has aesthetic significance locally. Has cultural significance locally. Cultural:St Andrew's Cathedral occupies a prominent site in George Street, adjacent to Sydney Town Hall. Together they form a unique precinct where temporal and secular considerations exist side by side. The Cathedral contains examples of exceptional craftsmanship (especially stained glass, carved stone and timber).
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Cathedral has been the focus of the Sydney Diocese, and played a key role in the development of the Anglican Church in Australia. Has social significance locally.St Andrew's Cathedral occupies a prominent site in George Street, adjacent to Sydney Town Hall. Together they form a unique precinct where temporal and secular considerations exist side by side. The Cathedral contains examples of exceptional craftsmanship (especially stained glass, carved stone and timber). Has cultural significance locally.
SHR Criteria f)
St Andrew's is the oldest surviving cathedral in Australia. Is rare at a State level.
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:

General: St Andrew's Cathedral should be conserved largely in its existing form and scale, and should continue in its existing use. The conservation plan should be updated as necessary prior to any proposed changes to the place. Features of high significance should be conserved, and those which have been damaged or concealed by later work should be restored or reconstructed. Intrusive elements should be removed. Surfaces never intended for painting, notably sandstone should remain unpainted, while surfaces such as stucco and timber which were originally painted should continue to be painted in appropriate colours. The grassed area adjacent to the Chapter House should be retained, as should the prominence of the building viewed from Sydney Square. Exterior: Minor modifications of the Cathedral could be contemplated provided that no further loss of original fabric occurs. Interior: The interiors of St Andrew's and the Chapter House could be subject to some alteration in the future to assist the continuing use of the place for its original purpose (ie. modifications that reflect liturgical needs), provided that surviving significant fabric is preserved. .


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney Local Environmental Plan 2012I179314 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  National Trust Listing
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenEllis1953 Francis Greenway: his life and times
WrittenKinsela, Joseph1986 St Andrew's Cathedral. Gargoyle Guides: Sydney.
WrittenPaul Davies1998St Andrew's Cathedral, George St, Sydney: Conservation Plan

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2424253

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.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.