Christ Church St Laurence Anglican Church and Pipe Organ | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Christ Church St Laurence Anglican Church and Pipe Organ

Item details

Name of item: Christ Church St Laurence Anglican Church and Pipe Organ
Other name/s: Hill and Son Pipe Organ
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Location: Lat: -33.8820798050 Long: 151.2048800590
Primary address: 812a-814 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St Lawrence
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOTB DP87889
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
812a-814 George StreetSydneySydneySt LawrenceCumberlandPrimary Address
507 Pitt StreetSydneySydneySt LawrenceCumberlandAlternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Christ Church St LaurenceReligious Organisation03 May 99

Statement of significance:

Principal Significance
* Christ Church St Laurence, completed in 1845, has a distinctive place in the history of the Australian Anglican Church as a parish church characterised by its Anglo-Catholic identity at times to the point of acquiring national iconic status within the church.
* Christ Church St Laurence group including the church, church hall and rectory is architecturally nationally significant as an ancient church group.
* The church a landmark, a building which carried/brought in the Victorian Gothic Revival style, the early work of Edmund Blacket, the rectory and church development. one of the best quality Edwardian city developments also intact and part of one of the two earliest city blocks intact.

Other Significance
*The church group has strong associations with important clergy and architects among many others including William Horatio Walsh, Charles Frederick Garnsey, Frederick John Albery and John Hope.

*Christ Church St Laurence is a rare first-generation building in the city and as such has archaeological potential to reveal evidence of Sydney's original land form and pre-European culture. The church retains the majority of all its important liturgical fittings from the original work and its major changes.

*Christ Church St Laurence due to its prominent history and strong support of social causes maintains a high level of social significance. (Christ Church St Laurence Conservation Management Plan, Clive Lucas Stapleton, 2001)
Date significance updated: 17 Nov 08
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.


Builder/Maker: Hill & Son - Pipe Organ
Construction years: 1845-1845
Physical description: Description of the Place Generally
The place consists of three main buildings with small surrounding grounds which are tightly arranged in an irregularly shaped block where George and Pitt Streets converge into Railway Square.

The sandstone church building with its steeple addresses George Street and is seen in full front elevation with the spire cut into the sky axially down Valentine Street.

Immediately to the north of the church is the AKA building, a premise owned by the church, being a three-storeyed liver-brick shop building along conventional lines. To the south of the church on George Street is an open area to the rear of the rectory. Some 2.5 m back from the alignment is a rendered brick wall painted pink which is the remains of the shop display structure which the church leased to Marcus Clark from about 1906 until the 1960s. In front of the wall are three large plane trees and associated planters and seats. Behind the wall is built a metal double-garage structure.

Facing Pitt Street to the south of the church is the Edwardian rectory building, a fine and elaborate face brick construction, the language of which is repeated in the school building, a four-storey building to the north of the church. The Pitt Street alignment is fenced with a face brick wall with sandstone capping of the same date and style as these buildings.

The church property also bounds Rawson Place and an unnamed lane running off it. The surveys show that the place is part of a city block whose only development, apart from the shop display window, are unchanged since before 1926. The church is only fully visible looking down Valentine Street; however, the tower and spire can be seen uninterrupted as one proceeds south along George Street from Town Hall. The church and spire are also clearly visible from Railway Square, and a dramatic and very close view of the church and spire is obtained from the elevated entrance to the country trains platforms at the Central Railway building.

Physical Survey
The place and its setting were inspected on 8 May 2001 and the current configuration of the site and buildings recorded. The views to the place and key urban relationships were recorded. The recording of these is shown in the following figures and schedules attached as Appendix 2.

Liturgical History of the Interior
From the physical and documentary evidence gathered, is it possible to analyse the changes to the interior of the church made for liturgical reasons since its first layout was completed by Blacket in 1864.

Liturgical change, meaning the arrangement of the interior, its fitments and furniture, is integral to the history of the parish. The first is the Tactarian Style layout brought to completion in about 1864 with the installation of the second east window to the design of William Wailes and Edmund Blacket together.

The second phase is about the rearrangements made by Charles Frederick Garnsey in 1886 to support Anglo- Catholic ritual worship. The principal elements of this arrangement were all the bringing of the choir and the organ to the east end, enlarging it in the process, the raising of the altar table on three additional steps of marble and the adornment of the church with a crucifix above the pulpit and cross and the candles to the altar.

The resumption for Central Railway Station and the fire in 1906 combined to provide opportunities to take these revisions further. In the third period the church gained a separate side chapel dedicated to St Laurence, enlarged vestries, including a sort of choir vestry under the organ, elaborate decoration to the chancel and a chancel screen. With these developments the Anglo-Catholic church interior arrangements were completed except for the fresco by Lo Schiovo made in 1938.

It is important to note that the arrangements did not take away the previous one, but built them up, only to the extent required. The interior, unlike St James, retained the bones of its previous arrangements. In the last two periods the changes amount to more practical reworkings of some details with the exception of the elaborate fresco of 1938 by Vergil Lo Schiovo. Of some stylistic interest is the stripping bare in the 1960s of certain Victorian elements in order to strengthen the colonial attributes of the church interior, at the hands of the architect Morton Herman.

In summary, it can be said Christ Church retains a great deal of its original interior, but overlaid with substantial but not radical changes that importantly give effect to the Anglo-Catholic character of the place as brought about in the 1880s. (Conservation Management Plan, Clive Lucas Stapleton, 2001)
Current use: Church
Former use: Church


Historical notes: Pipe organ - 1891

The original six church bells were made by John Taylor & Sons of Loughborough in 1852. The bells arrived in Sydney in January 1853 but were not installed until after the completion of the spire at the end of 1855. These original bells were recast in Britain and four new bells were commissioned and cast at the Whitechapel Foundry in London in 1984, thus bringing the total ring to 10 bells.

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 (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Fine example of early Australian sandstone church
- Edmund Blacket spire
- Special ministry to city and within Anglican church
- organ/artworks/music
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
- landmark spire
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
- connections with travellers/Central Station/UTS
- connection with city/arts/music
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
- Major contribution to cultural history of city and Anglican Church
Integrity/Intactness: Fabric retained but in need of conservation
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 workHeritage Act Record converted from HIS events
Refer to standard exemptions gazetted 23 October 1998.

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
*change of use;
*strata subdivision
* maintenance of any item (building, works, relics or places) on the site, where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing fabric.
*Minor repairs where minor repair means the repair of materials and includes replacement of minor components such as individual bricks, where these have been damaged beyond reasonable repair or are missing. Replacements should be of the same materials, colour, texture, form and design as the original it replaces.
*alterations to the interior of a building which are of a minor nature and will not adversely affect the significance of the building as an item of the environmental heritage.
Apr 6 1990
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 0012302 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0012322 Oct 82 141 
Local Environmental PlanCSH LEP 4 07 Apr 00   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Christ Church St Lawrence Anglican Church and Pipe Organ View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Christ Church St Laurence Anglican Church and Pipe Organ View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007  View detail
WrittenClive Lucas Stapleton and Partners2001Christ Church St Laurence Conservation Management Plan

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

rez rez rez rez rez rez
rez rez rez
(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: 5045569
File number: S90/05939 & HC 30279

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.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.