St. Stephen's Uniting Church | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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St. Stephen's Uniting Church

Item details

Name of item: St. Stephen's Uniting Church
Other name/s: St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, St Stephens
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Location: Lat: -33.8673232387 Long: 151.2120387830
Primary address: 197 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St James
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP185400
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
197 Macquarie StreetSydneySydneySt JamesCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Uniting Church in Australia St Stephen's SydneyReligious Organisation 

Statement of significance:

St Stephens Uniting Church is likely to be of State significance. It is historically and socially significant as the focus of the Parish of St Stephen's, formed in 1842 and is associated with a number of prominent members of Sydney, including Churchmen, Statesmen and Military. Its history is interwoven with the development of the Presbyterian and Uniting Churches in NSW and Australia, in which it has played a prominent role. St Stephens has been continuously located within the Macquarie Street precinct for over 150 years. The church has aesthetic significance as an example of the Inter War Gothic style of architecture, and as one of three extant churches in that style in Central Sydney. It is part of a group of high quality and historic buildings lining Macquarie Street and contributing to that historic precinct. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith, 2003)
Date significance updated: 04 Mar 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: Finlay Munro Jnr & John Reid
Builder/Maker: Kell & Rigby
Construction years: 1935-1935
Physical description: St Stephen's Church is designed in the Inter War Gothic style and occupies a prime location in Macquarie Street, opposite State Parliament. The masonry building includes a rectangular church and gallery, hall, offices and ancillary spaces. The main elevation is sandstone with carved tracery and leadlight windows and is symmetrical about the eastern window. Stairs located at the north and south sides of the entrance vestibule provide access to the gallery and Ferguson Hall below. The interiors feature extensive polished timber panelling and plaster ceilings that draw inspiration from traditional English Perpendicular Gothic. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith, 2003)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physcial condition is good.
Date condition updated:10 Mar 04
Modifications and dates: Refer to Conservation Management Plan - Volume 1 & 2 - Noel Bell Ridley Smith 2003
Current use: church, religious worship
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot, church, religious worship

History

Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney (sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani ).

St. Stephen's Church:
The present St Stephen's Church is the second church of that name in Macquarie Street, the fourth in the precinct. The congregation were originally housed in St Stephen's Church in Phillip Street, and later in the Iron Church in Macquarie Street. The second St Stephen's was located south of the present church in Macquarie Street, but of the last grand residence in central central Sydney. St Stephen's was designed by John Reid and Finlay Munro Jnr c.1933 in the inter-war Gothic style remaining in central Sydney. The name of the church was selected because its geographical location and links to the State Parliament were seen to reflect those of St Stephen's of Westminster with the English Houses of Parliament.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
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 Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
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 institutions - productive and ornamental-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing local landmarks-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Building settlements, towns and cities-National Theme 4
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 Early land grants-
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 suburban to urban-
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 Alienating Crown Lands for religious purposes-
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 Townships-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Subdivision of urban estates-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th century suburban developments-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 20th century Suburban Developments-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Macquarie's town layout-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Beautifying towns and villages-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - conserving cultural and natural heritage-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Monuments-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Interior design styles and periods - Inter War-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Interwar Gothic revival-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. work of stonemasons-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Creating works of art-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Adaptation of overseas design for local use-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1900-1950-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1950-2000-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going to church or a temple-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Methodism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Church-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Presbyterianism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Community volunteering-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of formal community gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of informal community gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing local clubs and meeting places-
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-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Finlay Munro Jr., architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with John Reid, architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site of St Stephen's Uniting Church is historically significance as the former site of Burdekin House, one of Sydney's Colonial social landmarks for over 90 years. Built in 1841-1842 by Thomas Burdekin, it remained in family ownership until sold in 1924.

St Stephen's is historically significant as the focus of the Congregation of St Stephen's Church, formed in 1842. Since the 1840's St Stephen's has been a part of the spiritual life of the people of Sydney. It continues to make an important contribution to the development of religious thought and observance in New South Wales. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith 2003)
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
St Stephen's Uniting Church has strong associations with the life and work of:
- successive Presbyterian Ministers who provided leadership both to St Stephen's and within the presbyterian and Uniting Churches as they developed, including rev Dr Steel, Rev John Ferguson, Rev James McLeod and Rev Gordon Powell.
- Statesmen, including NSW State Governors Sit John Northcott, Sir Eric Woodward (Both were honoured with State Funerals at St Stephen's), James Cameron Speaker of the NSW Lower House, Sir Leslie Herron, NSW Chief Justice.
- The individuals and families commemorated in its memorials.
- Notable individuals including Rev Dr J. Fred McKay, successor to john Flynn of the inland, associate Minister St Stephen's 1974 to 1986, Messrs Bob Joss and Robert White, Managing Directors of Westpac bank.
Architects, John Reid and Finlay Munro Junior. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith 2003)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
St Stephen's Uniting Church is aesthetically distinctive as an Inter-War Gothic style church located on one of Sydney's most notable street. Its aesthetic merit lies in the adaptation of Gothic references to a modern church building to reinforce a strong traditional image. It draws on forms from the English 'Perpendicular (Gothic) Style' characterised by strong vertical lines in window tracery and wall panelling, vaults and an elaborately decorated copper lantern. This is carried out in contemporary construction utilizing traditional materials and demonstrating a high degree of design skill and craftsmanship. It incorporates fabric in the form of memorials and stained glass windows from the Phillip Street Church. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith 2003)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
St Stephen's is socially significant initially as the principal Presbyterian Church in New South Wales and since Union as the principal Uniting Church of New South Wales. Its history is interwoven with the development of the Presbyterian and Uniting Churches in NSW and Australia, in which it played a leading role. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith 2003)
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.

Recommended management:

Refer to Conservation Management Plan - Volume 1 & 2 - Noel Bell Ridley Smith 2003

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementReview a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for commentSubmitted for compliance with CWC s60/2017/192  
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementSt Stephen's Uniting Church CMP, 2 vols CMP endorsed by Heritage Council 2 August 2004, expires 2 August 2009 Aug 2 2004
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for commentSubmitted for review as part of a CWC for S60/2017/192 Aug 21 2019
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for commentSubmitted as part of CWC s60/2017/192 Aug 27 2019
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementSubmitted as a CWC for S60/2017/192 - Condition 5 - CMP to be amended and updated to reflect development and submitted for endorsement. Sep 2 2019
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) OF THE HERITAGE ACT 1977

Standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977.

I, Donald Harwin, the Special Minister of State 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, effective 1 December 2020:

1. revoke the order made on 11 July 2008 and published on pages 91177 to 9182 of Government Gazette Number 110 of 5 September 2008 and varied by notice published in the Government Gazette on 5 March 2015; and

2. grant the exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 that are described in the attached Schedule.

Donald Harwin
Special Minister of State
Signed this 9th Day of November 2020.

To view the standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 click on the link below.
Nov 13 2020

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0170403 Sep 04 1427422
Local Environmental PlanSydney Heritage Local Environmental Plan 2012I1880   
Royal Australian Institute of Architects registerRAIA Register of Significant Buildings in NSW4700648   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007St Stephen's Uniting Church View detail
Written 2015Conservation Management Plan - St. Stephen's Uniting Church
TourismAttraction Homepage2007St Stephen's Uniting Church View detail
WrittenNoel Bell Ridley Smith & Partners Pty Ltd2009St Stephen's Uniting Church 197 Macquarie Street Sydney 2000: Conservation Management Plan : Conservation Management Plan
WrittenTonkin Zulaikha Greer2016St. Stephen's Uniting Church - Conservation Management Guideline

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 NSW
Database number: 5053417
File number: 10/03837, EF14/5588


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