St. Brigid's Roman Catholic Church & School | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


St. Brigid's Roman Catholic Church & School

Item details

Name of item: St. Brigid's Roman Catholic Church & School
Other name/s: St Brigid's
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Location: Lat: -33.8586748538 Long: 151.2037865160
Primary address: 14, 16 Kent Street, Millers Point, NSW 2000
Parish: St Philip
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP86217


The site is located at the northern end of Kent Street, Sydney within the Millers Pont district. It lies at the foot of Observatory Hill near the junction of Argyle and Kent Streets.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
14, 16 Kent StreetMillers PointSydneySt PhilipCumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Saint Brigid's Roman Catholic ChurchReligious Organisation03 May 99

Statement of significance:

St Brigid's Church and School is of State significance because:
* it is the oldest building in Australiasia in continuous use for religious services for the Roman Catholic Faith. The ground floor sandstone section, which still functions as a church, has been in use since 1835 (Grading of Significance: Exceptional );
* the site has strong associations with Bishop Ullathorne (the first senior Catholic churchman to function in Australia) who was instrumental in placing the Church on a formal footing in New South Wales (Grading of Significance: Exceptional );
* the building is one of the few surviving works by the Colonial Architect Ambrose Hallen (Grading of Significance: High );and
* the building makes a visual contribution to the local historic precinct, which is recognised as being of national significance (Grading of Significance: High ).

Reference : John Graham and Associates (February 2002)
St Brigid's Church and School documents the religious and educational life of the local society over an exceptional length of time and may have special significance for the history of the Roman Catholic community in Australia (13/06/1989, Ref: HC 89/0767)
Date significance updated: 23 Apr 03
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.


Physical description: The site lies on the west facing slope of Observatory Hill, a sandstone bluff which separates Sydney Cove from Darling Harbour.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
A detailed Archaeological Research Design report was prepared and submitted with the Section 60 application as required by the General Terms of Approval issued by the Heritage Council on 13 June 2002 (Application No. 02/IDA22, see Annexure D).

According to the Archaeological Research Design report, until 1833 the whole site was part of an extensive sandstone quarry then in May 1835 the church building was completed and opened as a school. It is possible that artefacts related to the school were deposited in the southern yard from this time. In about 1935 the second storey was built into the church for use as the school, so that the ground floor room could be devoted exclusively to its use as a church. During these building works and improvements the level of the southern yard was raised with a new bitumen surface. This would have sealed in any earlier archaeological remains from the use of the area as the yard for the school and its sometimes use as a church.

In summary the Archaeological Research Design report concludes that the southern yard, which is to be excavated as a result of the proposed works, is not of high archaeological significance
Date condition updated:23 Apr 03


Historical notes: The Roman Catholic Church was not formally recognised in Australia until 1820 with the arrival of Fathers Connolly and Therry, although unofficial churches and schools are believed to have operated in the colony prior to that time. St Brigid's is typical of the early development of educational facilities in New South Wales, which were either privately operated or church run. State run schools did not come into being until the National School system began in the 1840s. St Brigid's is believed to be the oldest church run school surviving in New South Wales (predating the Catholic school at Camperdown by five years).

The original design of St Brigid's has been attributed to Dr WB Ullathorne. It was originally designed as a single storey sandstone building containing a classroom and a separate chapel. Pupils were initially under the care of the Christian Brothers, but by the 1870s the school had been taken over by the Sisters of Mercy. In the early 1930s Father Daniel Hurley, Parish Priest of St Patrick's, sought and gained permission to build another storey on top of the original classroom and chapel. The original sandstone classroom and chapel were converted to the church and apse visible today. The extended school was opened on 31 August 1933.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act See File For Schedule

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material;
(2) Garden maintenance, including cultivation, pruning, weed control, the repair and maintenance of existing fences, gates and garden walls and tree surgery but not extensive lopping.
Jun 9 1989
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 0064502 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0064509 Jun 89 723410
Local Environmental PlanCSH LEP 4 07 Apr 00   

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045352
File number: S90/04249 & HC 890767

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