St John's Bishopthorpe Church including interior, boundary wall, lych gates and grounds | NSW Environment & Heritage

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St John's Bishopthorpe Church including interior, boundary wall, lych gates and grounds

Item details

Name of item: St John's Bishopthorpe Church including interior, boundary wall, lych gates and grounds
Other name/s: Church of St John the Evangelist, Bishopthorpe, Glebe
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 138A Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW 2037
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
138A Glebe Point RoadGlebeSydney  Primary Address
St John's RoadGlebeSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

St John's Bishopthorpe is a fine example of a Victorian Romanesque style sandstone church executed in stylish detail. It is an outstanding architectural composition, and with its tower and exceptional Edwardian church yard with its stone perimeter wall and lych gates, is a major landmark in Glebe.

The church was built in 1868-70 to the design of prominent architects Edmund Blacket and John Horbury Hunt, with the vestry and tower, both designed by Cyril Blacket, completed in the early twentieth century.

St John's is strongly linked with the growth of the suburb of Glebe, and has been a constant place of worship, reflecting the changing complexion of the area, for over 150 years.
Date significance updated: 17 Sep 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: Church: Edmund Blacket and John Horbury Hunt Tower and vestry: Cyril Blacket
Builder/Maker: Main part of Church: William Noller
Construction years: 1868-1911
Physical description: St John’s Church, Bishopthorpe, is a Victorian Romanesque style church made from white Pyrmont sparrow pecked ashlar sandstone. The church contains elaborate stone carvings throughout and many fine stained glass windows. The church consists of a nave, north and south aisles, three porches, chancel, vestry and organ chamber. The woodwork is by Joseph Watson. There are circular clerestory windows.

The original tower was built only to the height of the nave and in 1911 was added to the design of Cyril Blacket. It relates well to the rest of the building with its solid square shaft, pierced by long narrow lights, which supports a stone pyramidal roof. Another addition to the design of Cyril Blacket is the choir vestry, an elongated octagon in plan, on the southern side of the chancel .

The nave, chancel, choir vestry and aisle are roofed in slate with a decorative fish scale and across the slope over the nave and chancel. There is an open hardwood truss system in the nave, and scissor trusses in the chancel , and the roof is lined in Kauri pine with chamfered sarking boards. In the choir vestry the roof is lined with redwood sarking boards and coupled rafters support its roof.

The church is embellished with a number of memorial stained glass windows. There are five windows on the north aisle with themes such as the Good Shepherd, three windows on the eastern elevation of the Chancel, depicting the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and four windows on the south aisle representing biblical stories.

Flagged sandstone forms the floor of the nave, aisles, chancel and porches. The floor of the choir vestry is red cement.

In the interior there are row of six arches between stone columns, down each side of the nave.

Two plinths, made out of stained hardwood shoe edge boards with a perforated fascia support the fitted, Edmund Blacket designed kauri pine pews. Divided by a central aisle the two rows of pews fill the nave. Additional Blacket designed furniture includes the baptismal font, pulpit, holy table, choir stalls, reredos, presidents chair, fald stool and organ screen. The organ, constructed by Forster and Andrews of England, was installed in 1884.

The church is set in landscape surrounds with camphor laurel trees and there is a crenelated wall of random sandstone on three sides with lych gates to both street frontages. There is a grey ironbark in the north-east corner of the site which has been identified on the City of Sydney Significant Tree Register as a possible remnant of the native turpentine-ironbark forest which covered the ridge westwards from Glebe to Auburn.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Fair to good.

Need for ongoing maintenance.

The boundary stone wall requires careful repointing of mortar with a lime based mortar (there is some evidence of inappropriate high content cement render repointing and this should not be repeated).
Date condition updated:23 Jan 12
Modifications and dates: Church dates from 1868-70.
Perimeter stone walls and lych gates were constructed in 1901
Vestry added in 1909 and the tower in 1911, both designed by Cyril Blacket
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: Church
Former use: Church

History

Historical notes: Historical overview:
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.

The Sydney Glebe lands were granted to the Church of England in 1789. In 1828 "to relieve the pressing needs of clergy"”, Glebe was subdivided into 28 allotments and all but three lots (numbers 7,8 and 28) were offered for sale. Lot 28 was set apart for the residence of the Archdeacon and all revenue derived from the area retained for the Church and School Corporation "to and for the personal use and occupation of the Archdeacon of New South Wales and his successors forever". It was first known as the Archdeaconry. When in 1836 Dr WG Broughton was consecrated Bishop of Australia, the Archdeaconry became known as the Bishopthorpe Estate. This portion of Glebe was a part of the Parish of Christ Church St. Lawrence. In 1856 Bishopthorpe was divided into 238 allotments and offered on 99-year leases. "The subdivision has been on the most liberal scale – the streets being of the full proclaimed width of 66 ft with lanes 16.5 ft wide. The allotments all have 40 ft frontages by depths averaging about 120 ft, thus affording ample space for good improvements and a plot of garden ground for each. The situation is a most desirable one close to the city boundary but exempt from taxes and enjoying consistent communication with all parts of the city." The Bishopthorpe leases required all buildings to be constructed either of stone or brick. Other conditions prohibited the erection of more than two dwellings on an allotment and required buildings to face the main roads. No restrictions, however, were placed on the use to which buildings could be put. Corner shops accompanied the development of Bishopthorpe, and became an integral part of domestic retailing, providing basic necessities to customers who lived nearby. An array of retail shops stretched along Glebe Point Road from Broadway to St Johns Road, and within these estates could be found bakeries, blacksmith’s shops, iron foundries, Sharp Brothers cordial factory, the Waratah Stove works and Conlon’s pottery in Broughton Street. By the early 1960s many of the leases dating from the subdivisions of the mid-nineteenth century had expired and reverted to the Church. In 1971, the Church decided to sell of these holdings. The estate was purchased by the Commonwealth Government on 12 August 1974. for $17.4 million, 723 properties used as family dwellings and 27 commercial properties. (125 Glebe Estate properties had been sold prior to Commonwealth acquisition. )

The Church

This parish was created in 1856 when the Bishopthorpe Estate was subdivided and sold on leasehold (previously this portion of Glebe had formed part of the parish of Christ Church St Lawrence). The Rev. William Macquarie Cowper (1810-1902), the first Australian-born Anglican clergyman and a godson of Governor Macquarie was chosen as the incumbent of the new parish. The first services were taken in Cowper’s house until a church and school hall were built in 1857 at the south-western corner of St John's Road and Glebe Point Road. The school hall was designed by Edmund Blacket (1817-1883) in an early Gothic design. It was damaged by fire in 1972 and later demolished (although some of the the sandstone blocks and other features have been retained at the Adey Family’s Darling Mills Restaurant, 134 Glebe Point Road, Glebe).

Rapid population growth in the mid 19th century necessitated the need for a larger church, which was designed by Blacket's office, on the opposite corner to the hall. The foundation stone was laid on 15 April 1868. Whilst Blacket took a keen interest in the design of the church, it is attributed largely to the work of his assistant John Horbury Hunt (1838-1904). It is of Romanesque design built in Pyrmont sandstone and was opened on 21 December 1870. Particularly handsome, the church furniture and the pulpit were built based on Edmund Blacket's sketches.

In 1873, the parsonage, built to the design of Edmund Blacket was completed and in 1897 the Record Reign Hall on the opposite side of St Johns Road was opened.

Cyril Blacket, as Diocesan Architect, designed and supervised the construction of the stone fence and lych gates (completed 1901), the choir vestry and porch (1909) and the completion of the tower and spire (1911). The original tower of St. John's was built only to the height of the nave wall. The tower was built as a memorial to the Fourth Rector, Rev SS Tovy and the stone work for the upper part of the tower was carried out by Aaron Loveridge.

In 1963 the original parsonage was demolished for the construction of St John's Retirement Village and a new rectory completed to the north of the church building.

In 1994, the church was raided by thieves and number of items stolen including the lectern, bible, cross from the communion table, communion vessels and the baptismal ewer. Only the communion vessels were recovered.

The church has undergone extensive restoration to the west wall in 1988, which was in danger of collapsing, and the organ was restored in 1994.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The parish was constituted one year before the establishment of Glebe Municipal Council and is significant in the growth of Glebe as a suburb. The parish has strong ties with the history of the glebe lands, reserved for the benefit of the colony's clergymen and in particular that portion set aside for the use of the bishop.

The church also provides evidence of the development of Bishopthorpe Estate in the 1860s.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building has historic associations with architects Edmund Blacket and John Horbury Hunt who designed the church and Cyril Blacket who designed the vestry and tower.

The first incumbent at St John's Glebe is associated with William Macquarie Cowper ( 1810-1902) who was the first Australian born Anglican clergyman, who later became dean and archdeacon of Sydney.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
St John's Bishopthorpe is a fine example of a Victorian Romanesque style sandstone church executed in stylish detail. It is an outstanding architectural composition, and with its tower and exceptional Edwardian church yard with its stone perimeter wall and lych gates, is a major landmark in Glebe.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Church has been a continuous part of the life of the Anglican community within Glebe since the second half of the nineteenth century.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
In view of the great interest in the work of Edmund Blacket and John Horbury Hunt it is likely that St John's Glebe will continue to be a topic of study. Further examination of the building may lead to a deeper understanding to its design and construction.

The grey ironbark in the north-east corner of the site which has been identified on the City of Sydney Significant Tree Register as a possible remnant of the native turpentine-ironbark forest which covered the ridge westwards from Glebe to Auburn. The tree presents research potential particularly for its botanical and ecological value.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
An uncommon example of a Blacket church in the Romanesque style which suggests Horbury Hunt's influence with the design.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Fine representative example of a Victorian Romanesque style church.
Integrity/Intactness: High
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 Church should be retained and conserved. The important landscape qualities and garden settings of this church as well as the boundary stone fence is to be retained. All works should be carired out in accordance with the policies and recommendtations of the Conservation Management Plan, which includes staging of maintenance and restoration works. All conservation, adaptive reuse and future development should be undertaken in accordance with the Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (The Burra Charter). A Heritage Impact Statement is to be prepared for any works proposed to the church and grounds. The boundary stone wall requires careful repointing of mortar with a lime based mortar (there is some evidence of inappropriate high content cement render repointing and this should not be repeated)

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I72314 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Glebe Point Road Main Street Study Stage 21991 Bechervaise and Associates  No
Leichhardt Municpal Heritage Study1990B52GMcDonald McPhee P/L  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City View detail
WrittenD Sheedy1974National Trust Listing Card
WrittenHector Abrahams Architects2014The Anglican Church of St John the Evangelist, Bishopthorpe, Glebe: Conservation Managerment Plan
WrittenMorton Herman1963The Blackets An Era of Australian Architecture
WrittenR Apperly, R Irving and P Reynolds1994A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture
WrittenSmith, Bernard and Kate1989The Architectural Character of Glebe, Sydney,
WrittenSt John's Church A thumbnail history of the parish of St John Bishopthorpe

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: 2427890


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