Chatswood South Uniting Church and Cemetery | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Chatswood South Uniting Church and Cemetery

Item details

Name of item: Chatswood South Uniting Church and Cemetery
Other name/s: Chatswood South Methodist Church
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Location: Lat: -33.8058834759 Long: 151.1785866350
Primary address: 518 Pacific Highway, Lane Cove North, NSW 2066
Parish: Willoughby
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Lane Cove
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP628241
LOT2 DP628241
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
518 Pacific HighwayLane Cove NorthLane CoveWilloughbyCumberlandPrimary Address
Helen StreetLane Cove NorthLane CoveWilloughbyCumberlandAlternate Address
corner (Pacific Highway) Mowbray RoadLane Cove NorthLane CoveWilloughbyCumberlandAlternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Chatswood South Uniting ChurchReligious Organisation25 Jun 10

Statement of significance:

This church group is of historic, aesthetic and social significance as a fine, intact rural church, graveyard and landscaped grounds indicative of the early rural settlement of Lane Cove in the eighteen seventies. It is the oldest remaining (the third built) Methodist church on Sydney's North Shore, and the first church to be built in Lane Cove. The graveyard contains the remains of early pioneer families such as the Forsythe, Bryson and French families). It is also of aesthetic significance as a landmark on the Pacific Highway. (Heritage Study, 87)
Date significance updated: 19 Jan 04
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: T. Rowe, possibly a Mr Morrow also
Builder/Maker: Bryson, Leet, Johnson & Montgomery
Physical description: Site:
The site is on a corner of a busy intersection with the Pacific Highway. The 0.8 hectare site slopes down gently from east to west and contains a scattering of large turpentine trees, possibly remnant specimens. The property boundary has been intact since purchase in 1871. A small sandstone church in simple Victorian Gothic style occupies the north-east corner of the site. A 1960s fellowship centre lies further west, adjacent to the Sunday school. A cemetery lies to the north-west. The south-west is used as a car park shaded by trees; the south-east contains the parsonage.

A small graveyard lies to the west of the church, with burials dating from eighteen seventy one to nineteen twenty four, with the majority being before nineteen ten. Most monuments are of sandstone or marble and simple in design. The cemetery is not enclosed.

In the south west corner of the site are tennis courts.

A well kept garden surrounds the buildings, with mature trees including eucalypts, privet (Ligustrum sp.), sweet pittosporum (P.undulatum), jacaranda (J.mimosaefolia), turpentines (Syncarpia glomulifera), funeral cypress (Cupressus funebris), four large camphor laurels (Cinnamomum camphora)(three east of church, one west of fellowship centre), and in the east facing the Pacific Highway are two Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria excelsa) and a Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis). Four brush box trees (Lophostemon confertus) line the northern side of Mowbray Road. Shrubs include oleanders (Nerium oleander), camellias (Camellia sp.) and the church walls are covered with dwarf creeping fig (Ficus pumila var. pumila).

Gothic style sandstone church with tiled roof, built in the eighteen seventies. East front flanked by a tiny belfry with a bell from the NSW Fire Brigade. The interior walls are rendered and most windows contain stained glass. The roof is lined between the timber trusses. Pews are probably original. The original architect was T.Rowe , although there is reference to Morrow drawing the plans. The stonework contractor was Jago. The builders were Bryson, Leet, Johnson & Montgomery, all members of the early congregation.

Other Buildings:
Other buildings on site are a parsonage to the south, fellowship centre (twentieth century) to the south and west of the church, hall (twentieth century) west of that.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Vandalism of the cemetery has been extreme. Of about 65 grave sites evident in nineteen eighty only about four have undamaged monuments. Most are repairable.

The site has limited potential to yield in situ archaeological material as a result of development process that are likely to have disturbed or removed archaeological remains. There is greater potential to recover remains in the south-eastern portion of the site. The heritage significance of these remains was found by Anna London to be of moderate to high local significance.
Date condition updated:19 Jan 04
Modifications and dates: 1883: a transept and porch were added
1930: sanctuary and two vestries were added, A.W.Anderson, architect
1935: pipe organ installed.
Tile roof has replaced original shingles.
Current use: church
Former use: church


Historical notes: The remaining Crown land in this area was auctioned in the 1850s, marketed as an area for fruit growing and farming.

The land on which the church sits was originally owned by James Mitchell, after whom the Mitchell Library in Sydney is named. Upon his death the land passed to his son, David Scott Mitchell, a medical doctor. In 1871, two acres of this land was then purchased from David Mitchell by the trustees of the Wesleyan church, William Henry McKeown and others.

In 1843, Wesleyan Methodist local preachers visited Lane Cove (then all North Shore) and formed a class of 12 people. In 1870 Methodist services were held in the Bryson home, opposite the present day church. In 1871 the local Methodists settled purchase of the church's land (opposite), although the sandstone church had been recently built at this time.

The church was the third Methodist church to be built on the north shore. It is the earliest remaining. The architect is likely to have been Thomas Rowe, although it is much simpler than many other of his designs for this period. It had a timber shingle roof and cedar lining. Mr Morrow drew the plans for the building which was to be a stone structure. Stone was cut and carted to the site and timbers were hauled from the upper North Shore. The builders were Bryson, Leet, Johnson and Montgomery, who were all members of the congregation. James Montgomery was the stonemason for the church. On July 1st 1871, Mr John Dawson, a prominent business man attached to the York Street Methodist Church, laid the Foundation Stone and the church was opened on 31 December 1871.

The Christian Advocate of August 1, 1871 noted that:
"The church when finished will be a very neat and substantial structure. The site it occupies is on the Lane Cove Road, close to the junction of the North Sydney road, and is about four miles from the township of St Leonards.
The building is being constructed of stone and will be roofed with pointed shingles. The roof will be lined with cedar. Ample provision has been made for light and ventilation. The church is being built on a portion of ground of two acres extent. Part of this land is intended for a cemetery. Mt Thomas Rowe is the architect and Mr Jago of North Sydney the contractor for the stonework."

Another ceremony was held on October 7, 1883 when the transept and porch were added which meant that the space had more than doubled to a cruciform plan. In 1891 the name of the church changed from Willoughby to Chatswood.

The Sunday School was built and opened in 1906. A tennis club was formed after courts were built in the south-western corner of the grounds in 1912. A second tennis court was paved in bitumen for use as a car park - year unknown. A kindergarten hall was built in 1912, but burnt down in the 1960s and was rebuilt in 1967. The primary hall was built in 1913.

In 1930 the sanctuary, two vestries and a porch were added. In 1935 a new organ was installed and in 1937 the parsonage was built, designed by the architect Hedley Carr.

In 1966 a bronze bell was installed in the tower. The fellowship centre was constructed in 1968 in honey-coloured brick.

In 1977, the entire Methodist Church agreed to join the newly created Uniting Church of Australia and after 106 years as a Methodist Church, this church became the Chatswood South Uniting Church. On 4 July 1971 Sir Roden Cutler, Govenor of NSW and his wife unveiled a plaque here on the Centennary celebrations of Chatswood South Uniting Church.

The cemetery was owned and maintained by the parish from its consecration in 1871 until it was handed over to Lane Cove Council in the early 1980s. It was classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) in 1976 along with the gardens. In 1984 the cemetery was rededicated a Pioneers' Memorial Reserve.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of remembrance-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of contemplation and devotion-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Orthodoxy-
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. Remembering the deceased-
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. Operating and maintaining cemeteries and burial grounds-
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. Burying and remembering notable persons-

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;
(3) Internal alterations to the Manse, the Fellowship Hall and the Kindergarten Hall.
(4) Maintenance and repairs to existing access roads.
Dec 8 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 0069402 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0069408 Dec 89 1191064
Local Environmental Plan  04 Aug 95   
National Trust of Australia register      
Register of the National Estate 285six21 Oct 80   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenMoore, R., Pike, P. & Tropman & Associates1979Heritage Study of the Municipality of Lane Cove
WrittenRappaport P/L2010Statement of Heritage Impact - Proposed Modifications - Chatswood South Uniting Church
WrittenRappaport P/L2010South Chatswood Uniting Church - Conservation Management Plan

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: 5045420
File number: 10/12108; S90/03003 &89/0299

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