St. Johns Roman Catholic Church and Cemetery (former) | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


St. Johns Roman Catholic Church and Cemetery (former)

Item details

Name of item: St. Johns Roman Catholic Church and Cemetery (former)
Other name/s: Saint Johns Roman Catholic Church, St John the Evangelist Church
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Location: Lat: -34.0722977240 Long: 150.8228634860
Primary address: Broughton Street, Campbelltown, NSW 2560
Parish: St Peter
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Campbelltown
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Tharawal
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP1037742
LOT1 DP246268
LOT2 DP758217
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Broughton StreetCampbelltownCampbelltown St PeterCumberlandPrimary Address
George StreetCampbelltownCampbelltown St PeterCumberlandAlternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Trustees of the Roman Catholic ChurchReligious Organisation25 Mar 99

Statement of significance:

St Johns Roman Catholic Church and cemetery is of State significance for its associations with the Catholic Parish of Campbelltown, the second oldest parish in Australia. It is associated with the pioneers of the early Australian Catholic church, especially Father John Therry who designed the building. Construction of the masonry building was commenced in 1825 but it was not completed until 1841. It is thought to be the oldest masonry Catholic Church building in Australia. It is associated with James Ruse and Matthew Healy whose graves are located in the cemetery. (Heritage Office files)
Date significance updated: 05 Dec 07
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: Reverend John Therry
Construction years: 1824-1841
Physical description: Church building
A stuccoed brick church of simple Georgian design. The arched window openings and pilasters are marked by projecting render work and quoins represent ashlar work. The main roof and that over the porch are of simple pitched form.

Adjoining the church is the cemetery which contains the graves of many famous pioneers including James Ruse and Matthew Healey. The earliest grave is dated 1827.

James Ruse (1760-1837) arrived in Australia on the First Fleet and was fortunate to receive one of the first land grants in the colony, which was located in Parramatta. He is associated with Experiment Farm at Parramatta which in December 1789 had its first successful harvest. James Ruse is often referred to as Australia's first farmer and also known as the Father of Australia's wheat industry.

Matthew Healey played an important role in the early history of the Goulburn district for the inn which he built there called Riversdale and is the only surviving example of the old township as sited by Macquarie.
Current use: Church
Former use: Church, school


Historical notes: The foundation stone of St Johns Roman Catholic Church was laid 12 December 1824. The Sydney Gazette 16 June 1825 announced that Father Therry acknowledged the gift of five acres of land at Campbelltown from James Bourke for a chapel, schoolhouse and burial ground.

Father John Joseph Therry arrived in Sydney with Father Philip Connolly 5 May 1820 on board the ship Janus. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1815 Father Therry worked in Dublin and it was there that he was prompted to volunteer for the penal colony of New South Wales after experiencing the trials and tribulations of Irish convicts bound for Sydney. In September 1819 Bishop Slater commissioned father Therry and Father Connolly to work throughout the whole of new Holland and Van Dieman's Land. The civil authorities authorised Governor Macquarie to pay both me an allowance of 100 pounds per annum. The two priests quickly settled areas of influence in the new colony and father Connolly set sail for Hobart. Father Therry found himself frequently in Parramatta, Liverpool and the district known as Airds.

For the next ten years Campbelltown Catholics struggled to raise funds for the completion of St. John's Church. Early records are dotted with references of meeting to finance the project. The Catholic Community gathered at local public houses such as Cullen's Inn and the Forbes Hotel to mound fund raising campaigns. That part of the Burke gift devoted to the cemetery was consecrated 27 December 1826.

It was at this time that Father Therry fell foul of the government authorities and Governor Darling withdrew his allowance from 24 june 1826. Funds seemed to be short throughout the Catholic community and little happened in the completion of St. John's Church until early in 1833 when Roger Therry advised Father Therry that some Government financial assistance would be available for the Church completion. Governor Darling had assured Roger Therry that the Home Government was agreeable to advance funds equal to those subscribed by the local community.

It seems that at this time work had progressed on the walls to a height of a single storey. In July 1833 William McNally agreed to complete the stonework on the walls and in December of that year William Broker tendered and was engaged for the shingling and completion of the Church roof. David Lee and Patrick Bleaney agreed to complete the floor, doors, sashes and to glaze the windows for 388 pounds.

In a despatch to Lord Stanley, 30 September 1833, Governor Bourke wrote:

"The sum of 400 pounds has been appropriated to be paid in the next year in aid of similar sum to be raised by private subscription for erecting Roman Catholic Chapels at Maitland and Campbelltown. A chaepl was begun at the latter place as well as at Parramatta some years ago but neither has been completed from want of fund."

Father Therry offered the first Mass in St John's Church, Campbelltown 27 July 1834.

In 1886 the church was converted into a school by way of a new floor being inserted and various changes made to openings. After the opening of the new St Johns Roman Catholic Church at the corner of Lindesay Street and Cordeaux Street, it was converted to St Patricks Convent for the Good Samaritan Sisters and operated as a boarding school (both boarding and day) until 1970.

In 1980 the Campbelltown Parish requested that condieration be given for St John's Church and Cemetery to be protected under the Heritage Act 1977 and seeking possible funding. On 4 March 1983 a Permanent Conservation Order was placed over the site.

During 1984 and with financial assistance from the Heritage Conservation Fund the Church returned the building largely to its original 1830s form.

On 2 April 1999 it was transferred to the State Heritage Register.

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 Practising Catholicism-
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 Associations with Father John Joseph Therry, RC priest-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with James Ruse, first emancipist farmer-

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 0019302 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0019304 Mar 83 370984
Local Environmental PlanSt John's Church GroupI0019311 Mar 16   
National Trust of Australia register NTA Suburban Register9860   
Register of the National EstateSt.John's Catholic Church, Cemetery and Trees327121 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Colonial Landscapes of the Cumberland Plain and Camden, NSW2000 Morris, C., & Britton, G./NSW National Trust (for the Heritage Council of NSW)  Yes
National Trust Suburban Register19869860; 9862National Trust of Australia (NSW)  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenSesquicentenary Committee1984St John the Evangelist Parish Campbelltown 150 Years

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

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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045398
File number: S90/05724 & HC 32576

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