St. Andrew's Anglican Cathedral and Chapter House | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


St. Andrew's Anglican Cathedral and Chapter House

Item details

Name of item: St. Andrew's Anglican Cathedral and Chapter House
Other name/s: Saint Andrews, Saint Andrew's, St Andrews, St Andrew's
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Cathedral
Location: Lat: -33.8739722080 Long: 151.2063055560
Primary address: 1400 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT5 DP785173
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1400 George StreetSydneySydney CUMBERLANDPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Anglican Church Property TrustReligious Organisation 

Statement of significance:

St Andrew's Cathedral is one of the finest Gothic-revival church buildings in New South Wales and is the pre-eminent church building within the Sydney Anglican Diocese. The building represents the aspirations of the Colony and was the focus of much of Sydney life both during and after its construction. The completion of the Cathedral building was a major achievement for both the church and the City of Sydney. The building has high spiritual significance for both Anglicans and the wider community. It has been the 'State' church for many major events. The building group has high aesthetic significance as a finely crafted and detailed group of structures. The Cathedral interior has high aesthetic value, even in its altered form, containing much of the original furniture and fittings including the Hill organ. The Cathedral contains a very fine and significant set of stained glass windows that predominantly date from the time of construction. The Cathedral has historic significance as it has reflected the growth of the Anglican Church and changes in Anglicanism and for its associations with prominent church and civic persons. (Davies, 1999)
Date significance updated: 01 Jul 03
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: James Hume, Bishop Broughton, Edmund Blacket; Cyril Blacket (Chapter House - 1885)
Construction years: 1837-1868
Physical description: St Andrew's Anglican Cathedral and Chapter House is sited in the major civic and ceremonial precinct of Sydney and is a key element in the streetscape and townscape.

The Cathedral Building
St Andrew's Cathedral is one of the major Gothic buildings of Sydney and even though small in comparison to many Cathedrals is well executed showing the hand of architect Blacket. It is a pleasant Gothic Revival Cathedral in Sydney freestone of the late Colonial and Early Victorian periods. The exterior has weathered to a mellow warm brown colour which adds to the rich texture created by delicate Gothic windows, well proportioned towers and buttressing and multiplicity of decorated pinnacles. The main roof is slate.

The Cathedral has a largely tessellated tile floor with raised timber sections under most pews. The ceilings in the main space of the Cathedral are stained and painted timber.

The windows fall into three classes, stained glass with their protective glazing, leaded light windows and plain windows or other miscellaneous windows. The building contains many fine stained glass windows by local stained glass artists including Ashwin and Falconer and Norman Carter.

The Cathedral houses a collection of furniture, fixtures and fittings that date from the time of construction, the temporary Cathedral and various significant changes. It also houses a large collection of memorials both as furnishings and fittings and in the form of plaques.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good. Archaelogical potential is high.
Date condition updated:07 Jul 03
Modifications and dates: CATHEDRAL
1819 - foundation stone laid by Governor Macquarie. Work commences on a Cathedral designed by Francis Greenway.
1820 - work ceases.
1837 - current foundation stone laid on the present site by Governor Bourke. Work commences on a single tower building designed by Bishop Broughton and James Hume.
1842 - Work suspended during depression through lack of funds. Edmund Blacket srrives in Sydney and assumes position of 'Church Architect'.
1846 - Edmund Blacket appointed architect for the completion of St Andrew's. Design adopted for twin towers.
1861-1867 A 21 piece stained glass window collection provided on order by John Hardman and Co of Birmingham UK.
1866 - William Hill and Son organ installed in the south transept.
1868 - St Andrew's Cathedral consecrated and opened on St Andrew's Day.
1869 - first reredos added
1874 - towers and pinnacles completed
1884 - Chapter House erected as a memorial to Bishop Frederick Barker.
1888 - new reredos completed
1890s - Chapter House added.
1903 - relocation of choir stalls one bay east to open the crossing originally planned by Blacket.
1929-31 - North transept organ oft designed and built.
1936 - side chapel created in south aisle.
1941 - decision to reorient the cathedral.
1942-1960 - emphasis on exterior of building repairs and rebuilding of southern transept, rooves and pinnacles
1990s - cathedral returned to former orientatiation

1892 - recesses in the floor for aisles were infilled.
1895 - Cloister infilled with coloured glass and gas lighting introduced to upper level.
1913-15 - alterations include dismantling of east wall and re-erection, doorway infilled with glass and a new door opened (Paul Davies 1999)
Current use: Religious worship and church/state occasions
Former use: Religious worship and church/state occasions


Historical notes: Early Construction 1811-c.1874
The Cathedral was planned by Governor Macquarie to be an impressive Gothic building in the centre of Sydney within a large square which would contain major civic buildings. While the foundation stone was laid in 1819 it was later moved to accommodate development under Governor Bourke to make George Street straight rather than interrupted by a large square. Macquarie's plans were abandoned with the appointment of Commissioner Bigge to the colony and St James was constructed in place of St Andrew's as a church for Sydney.

Macquarie's vision has since been realised with the construction of the cathedral and later the Town Hall. The plan for the square could not be a reality as the land was allocated to other purposes, including the resiting of the Cathedral.

It is clear that Macquarie intended the building to be a cathedral and for it to be located in the centre of Sydney. No early plans have survived but it appears that Francis Greenway was the architect.

Early planning and construction was haphazard. With the arrival of Archdeacon Broughton in 1829 an attempt was made at reviving the project. On his return in 1836 as Bishop he re-sited the building and appointed James Hume architect, actively participating in the design.

Revival of interest was partly due to the Church Act of 1836 which provided Government subsidies for new church construction. In this case, 1,000 pounds and finances for a Dean was provided. The Cathedral was the most prominent of the eight churches commenced under this scheme and the major church building designed by Hume. It was also the first attempt in the colony to produce accurate details from medieval sources. The Conrad Martens lithograph influenced much of the church design that followed.

Work on the building again ceased in 1842 due to the combined effects of drought and economic depression in the colony.

In 1846 Broughton, not satisfied with Hume, appointed the more competent architect Edmund Blacket to complete the works. Blacket enlarged the building by two bays in length and added the central tower. He also proceeded to change the overall form and detailing of the building.

In October 1850 six bishops of Australasia met in Sydney for a conference. Someone suggested that as there were six pillars in the nave of the cathedral each should bear the name of one of the Bishops. William Grant Broughton, Bishop of Sydney and Metropolitan; George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand; Francis Russell Nixon, Bishop of Tasmania; Augustus Short, Bishop of Adelaide; Charles Perry, Bishop of Melbourne and William Tyrell, Bishop of Newcastle. The pillars were so named. In 1868 the Duke of Edinburgh attended St Andrew's for an organ recital.

The cathedral was opened and consecrated on St Andrew's Day, 30 November 1868. Seven out of nine Australian bishops were present at the opening. By 1874 the cathedral was substantially complete, including the western towers. The external form of the building had been finished, the building was furnished and changes had already commenced to the interior. Problems were detected due to water and ventilation which Blacket attended to with varying degrees of success.

Development of the Cathedral 1874-1968
Minor work was still taking place to the cathedral building from 1874. Fifteen years after opening, large scale cleaning and maintenance of the fabric and furnishings was required, to which Blacket responded.

Within 10 years of the 1874 completion the question of size was raised. Attendances at services had grown and on special occasions hundreds were turned away. In 1886 Bishop Barry said enlarging the cathedral was a question to face. He suggested the possibility of doubling its size. During 1883 proposals were made for a suitable memorial to Bishop Barker the second Bishop of Sydney. The Chapter House was decided on, to be also used as a Synod Hall. This suggestion was aligned with Barker's advocacy of synodical government. The building was designed by the Blacket Brothers and was opened by Lord Carrington and used for the first time at the General Synod in October 1886. In the meantime, St Andrew's Cathedral School was established in 1885 to provide choristers to sing at daily services, a strong tradition that has continued.

During 1884 J Pearson was commissioned to prepare designs for the reredos. Work was finally completed in November 1888 following delays with approval of design, carving and erection of the reredos.

In 1898 a meeting was held at Government House and a committee formed to clear off a debt of 7 200 pounds on cathedral property . Further changes to the cathedral proceeded up to 1900. Ongoing problems were encountered with the stonework and water damage. 1903 saw the relocation of the choir stalls to Blacket's original plan. It seems constant maintenance and deterioration of the building reached a point of frustration for Blacket who provided a detailed explanation of how the building weathered and suggested remedies. A maintenance person was not engaged.

A number of minor works were undertaken over almost 10 years then in 1916, the next major change took place. The Chapter House and new vestries were completed. From 1924 to 1941 works continued when proposals to relocate or enlarge the building were mooted. A series of actual and proposed land resumptions by the Sydney City Council and NSW Government Railways took place in the 1920s and 1930s and discussions took place as to whether the cathedral should be moved to another area of the city. In 1935 the St Andrew's Cathedral Site Act fixed the cathedral site to the land between Kent, George and Bathurst Streets and the Town Hall, providing security of tenure. The St Andrew's place subcommittee was formed to recommend treatment of the newly acquired space. In 1937 a competition was launched for proposals to increase the size of the cathedral to seat 2000-3000 people. Thirty designs were entered and first place was awarded to R A P Pickney and A F E Gott of London. Much discussion and negotiation took place and some endorsements were made in principal by the St Andrew's building committee. In 1940 the decision was made not to reappoint the building committee and vest its powers in the standing committee. This committee appointed a sub-committee to report on the issue. In the meantime war had broken out and extensions to the cathedral were abandoned as were plans for redevelopment of the site. There was some discussion as to rearranging the interior of the cathedral. The most likely explanation for this change was the geographic changes. When the cathedral was built it was central to its population and had its main entrance in "a street of churches". By the 1930s there were fewer living west of Kent Street and the convenient approach for most people was probably the east. In 1941 the Cathedral was reoriented. Between 1942 and 1960 emphasis shifted to work on the exterior of the building taking precedence over any other. During World War Two the cathedral was involved with major activities such as the CENEF huts and has had on ongoing social program operating since.

Restoration of the Cathedral 1968-present
By 1970 a more comprehensive plan addressing maintenance was required as problems had accelerated. Architects Anchor Murray and Woolley were engaged to prepare a report which was presented to the Chapter in February 1972.

A synopsis of the report sets the basis for the work that took place over 15 years. The report addressed the structure, fabric, fixed furnishings and interior elements. Ancher Mortlock and Woolley reported again in 1979. All work was carried out in conjunction with the National Trust and the government architect.

Expenditure on restoration totalled approximately 1.2 million dollars. No further work took place until 1990 when a detailed maintenance study was prepared by Partridge and Davies, architects. This study detailed a long term maintenance program addressing small scale works on a long term basis rather than large scale projects. Work has since been carried out by craftsmen and tradespeople on the basis of funds available. It is hoped a long term stonework program be developed over the next year which is urgently required.

In 1999 work to the building reversed the orientation and reinstated the surviving Edmund Blacket fitout and removed all of the twentieth century fitout.

The cathedral continues to play a significant role in the community and maintain a role in the ceremonial life of the people of the NSW, one of the most recent being the state funeral of Charles Perkins, Aboriginal politician and activist and each year several thousand tourists visit. Numerous volunteers offer assistance for activities and administration, including guides who give tours of the cathedral. Increasingly St Andrew's draws its members from the wider metropolitan area. The principal use of the church continues to be for church services - ordinary and special services for the community and organisations and "occasional" services - baptisms, weddings and funerals. It is important to note that the cathedral and chapter house hold a collection of furniture, fixtures, artefacts and memorials that reflect the history of the building and the personalities and some items from churches throughout the world. (Davies, 1999).

Reverend Boak Jobbins (1947-2012) played a prominent role in St.Andrews' Cathedral restoration. He was endlessly committed to the project and the stone masons even carved a likeness of his head into the stonework on the roof (Obituary, SMH, 10-11/11/2012).

CHAPTER HOUSE: The erection of a Chapter House was first mooted in 1883 to provide a synod hall in memory of Bishop Barker. Its construction was approved unanimously by Chapter and Synod. Cyril Blacket, Edmund Blacket's son was appointed architect. The foundation stone was laid on 30 November 1885 and construction completed in 1886. The choice of site was limited, the south west corner of the site being the only vaguely suitable one. Even this was restricted. In 1916 additions enlarging the Chapter House were completed by Wiltshire and Day. Calls for further enlargement continued but nothing was done due to the difficulty of the task.

For further detailed information on Chapter House, External Works and Structures, Additions to the Cathedral Exterior, Internal Layout, 1941 Re-orientation, Ventilation, Organs, Bells, Architects and Furniture, please refer to St Andrew's Cathedral Conservation Plan 1999 by Paul Davies.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences (none)-(none)
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship (none)-(none)
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Anglicanism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Cathedral-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-(none)
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. Boak Jobbins, Minister and advocate of St.Andrews' Cathedral restoration-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
St Andrew's Cathedral is of historic significance as the place of the first cathedral to be commenced in Australia. It reflects the changing views and attitudes both theological and social within the Diocese of Sydney in the physical changes that have taken place to the building. The collection of furniture, fixtures, artefacts and memorials record the history of the building, the history of the Anglican church in Sydney and key personalities involved in both church and civic life who have been associated with the building, the link between the building and the wider church with relics and items from other churches throughout the world and a tradition in quality of craftsmanship and design which can be seen from the 1860's to the present day. Its place in the development of architectural design and thought in the colony, as a perfect example of the colonial desire to reproduce England in Australia in the mid-nineteenth century which affected the design of many churches to follow in the colony. It is an example of the connection and inter-relationship of Church and State in the Colonial and Victorian periods. The Hill Organ, 1866, the first of approximately 40 organs they provided to NSW and one of the last to be made by Hill before his death. The Kinloch organ, the second organ to be built in the Colony of New South Wales. (Davies 1999)
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Its association with Edmund Blacket the most prominent architect of the period who was responsible for forming much of the character of Sydney in the mid-nineteenth century. It is association with a series of significant architects in Sydney including Cyril Blacket, Burcham Clamp, Wiltshire and Day and Professor Leslie Wilkinson all of whom made contributions to the building in both additions and maintenance of the fabric.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
St Andrew's Cathedral is of aesthetic significance for the high quality of the Gothic design and detailing of the building. It is one of the major Gothic buildings in Sydney and even though small in comparison to many cathedrals is well executed showing the hand of Blacket. It has strong visual qualities within the Sydney Square precinct. The building has a very fine interior and houses a collection of furniture, fixtures and fittings that date from the time of construction. With the exception of several smaller additions identified as not having significance the buildings form a unified complex which, even though sited on a restricted site provide a group envisaged by Blacket. The cathedral is sited in the major civic and ceremonial precinct in the city and is a key element in the streetscape and townscape of the city. It is a landmark building that is widely recognised and admired by the community. Although altered, the Hill organ is a fine instrument with a very good tonal quality. The organ case and pipework are an important element of the cathedral interior. The addition of the Kinloch organ to the cathedral enhances the music and appearance of the interior. (Davies 1999)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
St Andrew's Cathedral is of social significance as the location of major State occasions which have high social value to the community in general and to specific groups within the community. It is a tourist attraction drawing each year several thousand Australian and overseas tourists. It is the home of the Cathedral Choir and staff who have always been housed within the cathedral complex. It has cultural value to the City of Sydney as a venue for concerts and recitals and a place of civic activity. It has been the site of major relief programmes during national crisis and has been one of the key symbols in Sydney of stability and order.

St Andrew's Cathedral is of spiritual significance and its existence is a statement of Christian spiritual values. It has been the focus of Christian worship, including instruction, nurture and evangelism, for members of the Anglican Church in the area since 1868. The physical layout of St Andrews is of spiritual significance for its symbolism in relating spiritual concepts to earthly forms. (Davies 1999)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
St Andrew's Cathedral is of technical/research significance for being the most ambitious church building to be undertaken in the colony of a scale seen in England and Europe, but not before in Sydney. The high level of technical skill seen in the execution of the building, particularly the stonework and carving, construction of the towers, stained glass windows, joinery and furniture and innovative organ design. (Davies 1999)
SHR Criteria f)
St Andrew's Cathedral is rare on a state-wide basis as one of the finest Gothic-revival church buildings in New South Wales and is the pre-eminent church building within the Sydney Anglican Diocese.
SHR Criteria g)
The main glass in the cathedral is one of the finest collections of Hardman glass in Australia and represents the work of an important English stained glass artist. (Davies)
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 St Andrew's Cathedral Conservation Plan (1999) by Paul Davies.

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 0170803 Sep 04 1427420
Local Environmental Plan 505803 Apr 92 0422461
National Trust of Australia register      
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Religious Heritage Nominations2001 Heritage Office  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAttraction Homepage2007St Andrew's Anglican Cathedral and Chapter House View detail
WrittenNational Trust of Australia (NSW) St Andrew's Cathedral Classification Card
WrittenNational Trust of Australia Conservation Appeal The Resoration of St Andrew's Cathedral.
Management PlanPaul Davies1999St Andrew's Cathedral Church Conservation Plan Vols 1 & 2
TourismTourism NSW2007St Andrews Anglican Cathedral View detail
WrittenVery Rev A W Morton St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney

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: 5054713
File number: S90/06173, S94/00690

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