St. John's Church, Hall & Grounds | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


St. John's Church, Hall & Grounds

Item details

Name of item: St. John's Church, Hall & Grounds
Other name/s: St John's Anglican Church Newcastle
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Location: Lat: -32.9341004241 Long: 151.7684533380
Primary address: 1D Parry Street, Cooks Hill, NSW 2300
Parish: Newcastle
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Newcastle
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Awabakal
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP872146
LOT2 DP872146
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1D Parry StreetCooks HillNewcastleNewcastleNorthumberlandPrimary Address
107 Darby StreetCooks HillNewcastleNewcastleNorthumberlandAlternate Address
Dawson StreetCooks HillNewcastle  Duplicate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Anglican Diocese of NewcastleReligious Organisation 

Statement of significance:

The Church and Church Hall are the oldest surviving examples of such work in the Newcastle area, and are a fine pair of buildings, earlier than their surrounds, set on spacious grounds opposite Centennial Park within the historic Cooks Hill area.
Date significance updated: 04 May 00
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: Edmund Blacket
Builder/Maker: Church/Church Hall: Mr Hesp of Hinton
Construction years: 1857-1860
Physical description: The Church walls are hand pressed sandstock bricks, rendered inside and out, on mudstone foundations with stone windows and door surrounds. It is cruciform in plan, 105ft long, 92 ft across transepts, the nave is 30ft wide. The high pitched timber roof trusses have hammer beams and support purlins, rafters and boarding under the present aluminium sheeting which replaced at least two previous coverings. Most pews are of the original cedar, restored, All the windows are of stained or pressed glass, some are original. The Walker two manual pipe organ was made and installed in 1866.

The Hall walls are also sandstocks on stone foundations with a galvanised iron roof, the former two-storied master's house is now the hall kitchen, entrance hall and meeting room, with Sunday school quarters above.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Church: good
Church Hall: good
Date condition updated:04 May 00
Modifications and dates: 1863-64 - Church exterior walls were rendered
1865 - Bellfry added to north gable
1920 - North transept was converted to a chapel
1952-53 - Sanctuary floor was replaced by a raised concrete slab and a nave centre aisle was adopted

1989 earthquake in Newcastle resulted in demolition of the 2 storey Rectory. Seismic investigations were undertaken on other buildings on site.


Historical notes: St John's is the "mother" church of many Newcastle parishes and is linked with the history of early Australian white settlement. Through the Australian Agriculture (A.A.) Company, which donated the land for the site, some A.A. directors in England subscribed money to build the church, school hall, and rectory. The most generous being Walter Stevenson Davidson, who accompanied John Macarthur's dispatch to England in disgrace for taking part in a duel. Davidson was a nephew of Sir Walter Farquhar, Bart., Physician to King George IV, and a patron of Macarthur, who went on to found the Australian wool industry, with some of the sheep from the Royal flock.

St John's history begins in the period of William Tyrrell, the first bishop of Newcastle and his efforts to provide schools and churches, the period of the "United Church of England and Ireland", the transition of Newcastle from mining to industry and residential, and links with colonial chaplains and their subsidised salaries.

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]
It is a link with the early history of Newcastle's development as a coal producer and exporter under the management of the A.A. Company.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
A pleasant and complementary group of buildings set in a comparatively open space amongst later housing developments in the historic Cooks Hill precinct.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The first Bishop of Newcastle, Bishop Tyrell, combined with the A.A. Co., donors of the land, and W.S. Davidson and other A.A. Co. shareholders to the purposes set out in an 1854 memo to the company in London: "To enable persons to worship in the church of their forefathers, and to attract a population to the property of the company." Also, to provide a building in which the children of the employees could be provided with an education.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
A fine example of a large and imposing town church built in the 1850s in the Newcastle area, worthy of architectural study.
SHR Criteria f)
The church and hall are sole survivors as buildings of their age, and as such are irreplaceable.
SHR Criteria g)
The church group has been in continual use for ecclesiastical purposes, in the case of the school, under such supervision, since each building was commissioned. Its continuity in this regard has put its stamp on the area.
Integrity/Intactness: The Church dimensionally is as it was when built, the hall was extended in 1904, and some Georgian features lost at that time were restored when it was worked over before its reopening in 1985. All work was heritage approved.
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 0012402 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0012406 Jul 84 1083551
Local Environmental Plan  03 Jul 92   
Register of the National Estate  28 Sep 82   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1854St John's Parish Archives
WrittenA P Elkin1856A.A. Company Archives
WrittenCharles Hughes, MIE Aust1999NSW State Heritage Inventory Form
WrittenGraeme D Rushworth1988Historic Organs of NSW
TourismHeritage NSW2013St. John's Anglican Church, Crooks Hill, Newcastle
WrittenJoan Kerr1983Our Grand Victorian Architect Edmund Thomas Blacket
WrittenRev RP Howell (ed)1989A.A. Co. Archives

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: 5045733
File number: S90/07112 & HC 30470

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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