Christ Church, Churchyard & Cemetery | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Christ Church, Churchyard & Cemetery

Item details

Name of item: Christ Church, Churchyard & Cemetery
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Location: Lat: -34.5379627413 Long: 150.3916561860
Primary address: Bong Bong Road, Bong Bong, NSW 2577
Local govt. area: Wingecarribee
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Illawarra
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOTPT 14 DP751253
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Bong Bong RoadBong BongWingecarribee  Primary Address
Moss Vale RoadMoss ValeWingecarribee  Alternate Address
Church RoadMoss ValeWingecarribee  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Anglican Church Property TrustReligious Organisation 

Statement of significance:

Christ Church was constructed in 1845 and is the oldest church between Cobbitty and Canberra. It is associated with important figures such as John Verge who designed the Church and Charles & Betsey Throsby. It was dedicated and consecrated in 1845 by Bishop W.G. Broughton - Bishop of Australia. It provides evidence of the first designated township in the southern highlands by Governor Macquarie in 1821 and is a landmark feature on the approach to Moss Vale, and Wingecarribee River, relating to nearby Throsby Park. It contains a unique interior collection of a Parsons Organ, church pews, pulpit and lectern, painted ceilings, painted enamel and stained glass windows. The cemetery is an important record of the history of the southern highlands and of the Throsby family.
Date significance updated: 18 Apr 01
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: Attributed to John Verge
Builder/Maker: Charles Throsby (possibly convict labour)
Construction years: 1845-
Physical description: Christ Church is set in a churchyard with a cemetery on a hill over the Wingecarribee River, now on the outskirts of Moss Vale, and near the related site, Throsby Park estate. It is constructed of sandstock brick on stone foundations. The exterior has been cement rendered and painted white. There is a covered entrance on the north side and a tower.

The interior contains stained glass windows including an Ecclesiastical decorative east window and eight stained glass and painted enamel floral panels designed by Lyon, Cottier & Co. showing lilies, roses, chrysanthemums, iris, arum liilies and passionfruit flowers. There is a Parsons Organ and a painted ceiling attributed to Lyon, Cottier & Co. It contains Australian cedar pews, oak pulpit and brass lectern.

The cemetery is divided into two distinct sections; one of the Anglican graveyard of Christ Church Bong Bong and the other the Presbyterian cemetery. Although there is a light steel and concrete fence between them the two sections form a unified group. The cemetery landscape is enhanced by two rows of mature Bhutan cypress trees (Cupressus torulosa), planted on the 1945 centennary of the church's construction, one tree per (17) Throsby child, and some other large trees including gums which predate the church's construction, being shown in an 1820s painting of the area.

The monuments are arranged in parallel rows facing east. They date from 1841 and about half are pre-1900. The early monuments are mainly sandstone (40% 1841-1900) and of simple design, with a few of `Marulan stone'. Other materials used are marble (10%, 1866, 1890-1925), Trachyte (10%, crosses 1867-1925, other styles 1908 to present), granite (5%) and marble tablets on plinths (35%) of sandstone (1915-1930) or of cement or terrazzo (1930 to present.) Building Material: Marulan stone, marble, trachyte, granite, terrazzo, sandstone, cement. (National Trust of Australia 1984)

Other cemetery plantings include Chinese/funeral cypress (Cupressus funebris), Lawson cypress (Cupressus lawsoniana), black locusts/false acacias (Robinia pseudoacacia), cherry plums, privets, and firethorns (Pyracantha). The ground is carpetted by kiss-me-quick/valerian (Kentranthus ruber), sparaxia bulbs and grass. (Stuart Read, inspection 10/00)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good. Some damp coming in through cracking in walls. Church yard/ cemetery is in relatively good condition, although now (11/2000) becoming encroached upon by suburban sprawl of Moss Vale to the east and north (formerly open fields
Date condition updated:18 Apr 01
Modifications and dates: 1845 - Constructed
1884 - Gallery and stair demolished, Parsons Organ installed, ceiling removed and painted finish dome on diagonally laid pine boards, stained glass & painted enamel windows installed, enaustic tiles laid on floor and gothic porch. (by Blacket Bros)
1930s - exterior cement rendered
1992 - Church reroofed in colorbond.
Current use: Church
Former use: Church


Historical notes: Mr Charles Throsby of Throsby Park gave land for a church, burial ground and parsonage with a glebe of 100 acres at Bong Bong. Construction started early in 1845 to the plans of the well known architect, John Verge. These were prepared in 1837, probably for a church at Sutton Forest (National Trust of Australia (NSW)).

Charles had inherited Throsby Park estate from his uncle, the explorer Dr Charles Throsby. Charles (Jr.) built Throsby Cottage before his marriage to Elizabeth (Betsey) Broughton in 1824, and started work on the 27 room Throsby Park homestead in 1834. He built Christ Church Bong Bong on his own land and it has always been strongly connected with the Throsby family. He and Betsey had 17 children and over decades the Anglican church has seen scores of descendents christened, married and farewelled (Reid, 2013, 78).

The Church was paid for by Charles Throsby at a cost of 701 pounds. Its architecture is attributed to Verge and the building was dedicated and consecrated by Bishop William G Broughton in 1845, Bishop of Australia.

Beneath the church is a crypt, intended for Throsby family members but never used (Reid, 2013, 80).

Betsey Throsby was one of five survivors of the Boyd massacre, where New Zealand maoris killed and ate between 66 and 70 people in one of the worst instances of cannibalism on record. She was on the 'Boyd', which sailed from Sydney to Whangaroa harbour in 1809 under the command of Captain John Thompson. Te Ara, son of a maori chief from Whangaroa, asked to work his passage on the ship from Sydney and an incident occurred which resulted in him being flogged (perhaps theft, refusing orders, or he may have been framed). When the ship arrived in Whangaroa, Te Ara showed the whip marks to his tribe which led to violent retribution.

Five people were spared: Ann Morley and her baby, hidden in a cabin; cabin boy Thomas Davis (or Davison), hidden in the hold; the second mate; and two-year-old Betsey Broughton. She was 'taken by a local chief who put a feather in her hair and kept her for three weeks before rescue'. The mate was reputedly 'killed and eaten when his usefulness in making fish-hooks was exhausted'. When news of the massacre reached New Zealand's European settlements, Captain Alexander Berry undertook a rescue mission aboard 'The City of Edinburgh'. Betsey and the other three were taken aboard, bound for the Cape of Good Hope. The ship struck storms and was repaired in Lima, Peru, where Ann Morley died. The cabin boy went on to England and Berry returned Betsey and the other child to Sydney, via Rio de Janeiro, in 1812.

Betsey had been on the ship with her mother, Ann Glossop, returning to England. Her siblings are believed to have been sent to school in England and they were going to visit them. By the time she was reunited with her father, she was four and could speak Spanish. She married Charles Throsby in 1824 at the age of 17 (Reid, 2013, 81).

Charles died relatively young and Betsey brought up their 17 children. Being very pious, she kept up regular attendence at the "Throsby Church", all her long life. She cherished the church and funded work on its interior in 1884.

A rare mahogany organ, c.1850, was installed during the 1884 renovations (ibid, 2013, 80). Later work was done in 1907, after her death (ibid, 2013, 78).

The Church had been sited on a hill above Bong Bong, the first designated village in the southern highlands of New South Wales, by Governor Macquarie in 1821. The village declined in the 1850s due to flooding and diversion of the main south road, and only the Church/graveyard, the Briars Inn and Throsby Park remain.

Towards the end of the last century the Rectory fell into disuse and was later demolished.

The surrounding land was settled by recipients of Crown land grants and rewards to pardoned convicts. Many of these pioneers and early settlers are buried in the cemetery including Charles and Elizabeth (Betsey) Throsby 1854 and 1891 and their descendants; Joseph Wild 1847 (explorer of Lake George and Wildes Meadow); and Rebecca Jenkins.
Around 30 Throsbies are buried in the cemetery (Reid, 2003, 80).

When Betsey Throsby died in 1891, aged 83, the funderal service at Christ Church was conducted by three clergymen. There were 50 vehicles in the cortege and 20 horsemen. SHe left 78 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren (Reid, 2013, 81).

The Church celebrated a centenary service in 1945 and a150 year service in 1995. To commemorate the centennary in 1945, 17 Bhutan cypresses ( Cupressus torulosa), one for each Throsby child, were planted in the church grounds in two rows. These remain today.

The church's stained glass windows were restored in 2004. The east window, depicting Christ's ascension, was given by Betsey Throsby (probably in 1884) in memory of her late husband. Three other floral windows are thought to have been commissioned by Betsey and made by Lyon, Cottier and Company which made windows for major buildings including St.Andrews' College, Sydney University and St. Andrew's Scots Church, Rose Bay. A later ecclesiastical window reads that it is in memory of the Rev.William Fisher, who died in 1916. Former warden Sally Darling was instrumental in organising the window restoration work (Reid, 2003, 80).

The church's paintwork gradually deteriorated. In 2010 an anonymous benefactor, who came to the region c.2007 and is a regular member of the congregation, came to the rescue, finding heritage contacts in Sydney and putting momentum into the conservation project, said church warden Robin Croker (warden for 42 years). Discoloured stencil work on the ceiling and walls was repainted in its original colours, other parts were rediscovered and recreated, such as gold circles and fleurs-de-lis (iris motifs) that had been painted over. Lettering, which had always remained visible, was restored to its original brighter condition, and to its more ornate original scheme. 'In terms of its decoration, the church is unique - I know of nothing like it' says Julian Bickersteth, managing director of International Conservation Services which did the award-winning work. The restorers discovered the cream window frames were originally stained wood, so these were returned to their original state. The whole interior was repainted, where previously paint was peeling off walls. One small section was left to show the condition pre-restoration. New lighting and heaters were installed (Reid, 2003, 78-80).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Exploration-Activities associated with making places previously unknown to a cultural group known to them. (none)-
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)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Christ Church is of historic significance being constructed in 1845, it is the oldest Church between Cobbity and Canberra. It is associated with historic figures John Verge, Charles Throsby and Bishop W.G Broughton. It provides evidence of the first designated township in the southern highlands by Governor Macquarie in 1821.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Christ Church is of aesthetic significance as a relatively intact church, churchyard and cemetery, prominently sited on a hill, overlooking Throsby Park and the Wingecaribbee River, and as a landmark feature as you enter Moss Vale from Bowral.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Christ Church is of social significance as it is important not only to the people who attend the Church but to others it contributes to Bong Bong's sense of place.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Christ Church is of technical/research significance as it has the potential to yield further cultural and technical information through its rare stained glass & painted enamel windows, rare Parsons organ and interior paintwork. The cemetery is an important record of historic information about the pioneers and convicts that once lived and worked in the Southern Highlands.
SHR Criteria f)
The collection of the organ, paintwork and stained glass & painted enamel windows as set of floral panels are unique in New South Wales.
SHR Criteria g)
It represents the aspirations of the early settlers and their attempts to build the Bong Bong township.
Integrity/Intactness: Christ Church retains all its significant features except that of the gallery.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0138307 Apr 00 443161
Regional Environmental Plan  11 Apr 86   
Local Environmental Plan 198912 Jan 90 00700288
National Trust of Australia register   31 May 76   
National Trust of Australia register   05 Nov 84   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenReid, Melissa2013'Thank Heavens for Betsey'
WrittenSally Darling1999State Heritage Inventory form - Christ Church Bong Bong

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045224
File number: H99/00215, H99/00262

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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