St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral and Chapter House | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral and Chapter House

Item details

Name of item: St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral and Chapter House
Other name/s: Saint Mary's Cathedral, St Marys Cathedral
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Cathedral
Location: Lat: -33.8711654694 Long: 151.2133366860
Primary address: College 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
PART LOT1 DP119119
PART LOT1001 DP131260
PART LOT1 DP782462
PART LOT2 DP782462
PART LOT3 DP782462

Boundary:

Cathedral: is the building itself and the hatched area in the immediate proximity as shown on the attached plans THFS 01A and THFS 02A by Michael Fox Associates dated Nov 1996. Chapter House: is the hatched area limited to the envelope of the building itself as shown on the attached plan Drawing No 03A.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
College StreetSydneySydneyST JAMESCUMBERLANDPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Catholic Archdiocese of SydneyCommunity Group 

Statement of significance:

The Cathedral site is the oldest place maintaining its use as a place of worship for the Catholic community in Australia. It is the site of the original St Mary's Cathedral, the first Catholic church in Australia and is the first land granted to the Catholic church in Australia. It also the oldest permanent place of residence of Catholic clergy and can be said to be the birthplace of Catholicism in Australia.

The cathedral is associated with significant figures in the history of the Catholic Church in Australia notably with Father Therry, Archbishops Polding and Vaughan, Cardinal Moran and Archbishop Kelly. It is also associated with important persons of the 19th and 20th centuries including Governors Macquarie and Bourke and the architects Greenway, Pugin, Wardell and Hennessy. The Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Sydney and the mother diocese of Australia.

The Cathedral is of major architectural significance as the largest 19th century ecclesiastical building in the English Gothic style anywhere in the world. The Cathedral Chapter Hall located to the east is significant as the oldest building extant on the site, possibly the oldest surviving Catholic School building in Australia and evidence to suggest an important direct involvement in its design by Pugin.(State Projects, 1995)
Date significance updated: 30 Sep 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: William Wardell
Builder/Maker: Jacob Inder (Chapter House)
Construction years: 1866-1928
Physical description: The Cathedral site is roughly trianglular in shape. Significant archaeological material is present on the site. St Mary's Cathedral is built in high style Gothic Revival in sandstone with a slate roof over timber trusses to main aisles and over stone vaults to side aisles. Its plan is cruciform with a bell tower over the crossing. The nave's major axis runs north south. The sanctuary is the heart and visual focus of the cathedral and contains the tabernacle alter, main altar, the cathedral and the choir. The cross section of the cathedral displays the traditional Basilica form, comprising a tall clerestoreyed nave flanked by lower aisles. Two bell towers rise over the main entry at the southern end facing across Cook and Phillip Park to William Street and the Australian Museum.

Great rose windows are found in the west and south facades, with a great geometrically traced window in the northern end. Contains a crypt, vestries, smaller chapels and choir loft. There are many ancillary areas including eight sets of confessionals. Internally there is a sense of spaciousness and grandeur.

The CHAPTER HALL is a rectangular stone building approximately 40 metres east of the Cathedral Sacristy. It has a steeply pitched roof clad with recycled slates. The main hall section is two storeys and measures approximately 20 x 9 metres. There is a single storey stone entrance porch across the northern end of the building which faces St Mary's Road. The stonework of the northern and southern wall carry through to create parapeted gable ends to form of the roof. A narrow stone pediment crowns each gable. The northern pediment contains a recessed sculpture niche and is surmounted by a cross. The southern gable is surmounted by a stone bell cote. It is also finished with a cross. The interior is an open rectangular space with a timber board lined ceiling, decorative timber cornices and exposed dressed stone walls. Flooring is timber, inlaid at corners to the centre of the hall. (State Projects) (RNE)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good.
Date condition updated:18 Aug 04
Current use: Place of worship and church functions
Former use: Place of worship and church functions

History

Historical notes: The first St Mary's foundations stone was laid by Governor Macquarie in 1821 and blessed by Father Therry. Sydney's first bishop, John Bede Polding OSB, arrived on 13 September 1835 as Vicar Apostolic of New Holland. St. Mary's Chapel became his Cathedral.

Work on extensions to the cathedral commenced in 1851 to designs by Augustus Welby N. Pugin, the celebrated English architect and promoter of a more correct Gothic style. It was destroyed by fire in 1865. Archbishop Polding, the first Archbishop of Sydney immediately commissioned William Wardell to design a new cathedral. In the meantime a second, temporary building was constructed but burned down in 1869. The third cathedral took more than 20 years to build. Archbishop Polding's replacement Roger Bede Vaughan, Patrick Francis Moran, who would become Australia's first Cardinal in 1885 and Archbishop Michael Kelly would all enthusiastically embrace the project in coming years, realising its importance. Fundraising activities triduum celebrations and an accumulation of small donations would all contribute to funding of the cathedral. Work began on the new cathedral in 1866 and was to be an outstanding example of Gothic Revival architecture. The incomplete northern section of the new cathedral was opened in 1882 and dedicated.

After Wardell's death in 1899 responsibility for directing work was given to architects Hennessy and Hennessey who only slightly modified the Wardell design. A financial crash in the late 19th century saw the decision not to complete the spires originally proposed for the twin southern towers and changes to the ceiling construction of the southern nave. During this time the creation of a separate Catholic education system resulted, in part, in Archbishop Vaughan's desire to have more control over a larger system of Catholic schools. The Catholic School Board met in 1882 and in 1911 a new building to house two schools for the Sisters of Charity and the Christian Brothers was built on the site of the pro cathedral. The need for a symbol of the Catholic church had become inextricably tied up with the fight for religious education. St Mary's came to represent the solidarity of the catholic society as a community within a community.

Cardinal Moran continued Vaughan's efforts to oversee Catholic education and by 1900 the Catholic community had become segregated by the fight for religious education. In 1900 the opened section and central tower are completed and dedicated. The cathedral was freed form debt in 1905 and solemnly consecrated. By 1928 construction of the Nave was complete and Archbishop Kelly opened the almost complete cathedral on September 2nd. (The total cost of construction amounted to approximately (Pounds)700,000 over a period of 60 years.) In 1930 Pope Pius XI bestows on the cathedral the title and dignity of a Minor Basilica. In 1940 Norman Thomas Gilroy, the first Australian-born Archbishop of Sydney succeeded Archbishop Kelly and became Cardinal in 1946. Pope Paul VI visited Sydney in 1970 and celebrated Mass in the cathedral. Pope John Paul II visited St Mary's in 1986 and 1995. During 1998 - 2000 the Spires designed by Wardell were built. In 2001 St Mary's is the location for the celebration of the Ninth World Day of the Sick. The Chapter Hall is the oldest building on the site and may have been designed by Augustus Welby Pugin. It appears to have been commissioned by Archbishop Polding when visiting England in 1841 and was built between 1843 and 1845. Research suggests that the final design of the chapter hall was the result of successive amendments to earlier schemes for a larger structure. Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis appears to have selected the site for the chapter hall and may have been responsible for overseeing its construction. The building contractor was Jacob Inder. Initially it was used as a catholic school but was converted to a chapter hall in 1910. From 1988 it served for a short period as a museum.(State Projects, 1995)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. (none)-(none)
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship (none)-(none)

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Cathedral site is the oldest place maintaining its use as a place of worship for the Catholic community in this country. It is the site of the original St Mary's Cathedral, the first Catholic church in Australia, which was destroyed by fire in 1865. The site is significant for being the first land granted to the Catholic Church in Australia. Being the site where Governor Macquarie laid the foundation stone of the first St Mary's, the cathedral site symbolises the reconciliation of the Catholic church and the Australian State. The site of St. Mary's Cathedral is also significant as the oldest permanent place of residence of Catholic clergy in Australia. For these reasons, the site of St Mary's Cathedral can be said to be the birthplace of Catholicism in Australia.

It is the place where the International Eucharistic Congresses of 1928 and 1954 were celebrated at St Mary's. The cathedral is also where the first Pope to visit Australia celebrated mass and, through its organists and choir masters, has played an important role in the musical history of Sydney. The Cathedral Chapter Hall located to the east is significant as the oldest building extant on the site. It is possibly the oldest surviving Catholic school building in Australia. (State Projects, 1995) The use of the Chapter Hall as a school and general purpose hall has been continuous since erection and its role as an early public meeting place is highly significant. The Chapter Hall is the oldest building on the St Mary's site.(Bennett)
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
It is the place where the International Eucharistic Congresses of 1928 and 1954 were celebrated at St Mary's. The Cathedral is also where the first Pope to visit Australia celebrated mass and, through its organists and choir masters, has played an important role in the musical history of Sydney. The Cathedral is associated with significant figures in the history of the Catholic Church in Australia, notably with Father Therry, Archbishops Polding and Vaughan, Cardinal Moran and Archbishop Kelly all of whom are buried in the crypt. It is also associated with important persons of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Governors Macquarie and Bourke, and architects Greenway, Pugin, Wardell and Hennessy. (Sate Projects, 1995) The Chapter Hall's Gothic Revival style blends well with the cathedral and is aesthetically pleasing. (Bennett)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Cathedral is sited along a ridge running north-south on the eastern edge of the central area of the city and projects a dominating and inspiring presence, its roof and towers rising up above the neighbouring buildings and trees. The four arms of its plan establish axes that link it to the harbour and Woolloomooloo, to Hyde Park and to College and Macquarie Streets. The long English form of the building restates and reinforces these axes, powerfully weaving the cathedral into the urban fabric. As well as providing majestic vistas from the harbour and Potts Point, from Hyde Park and the adjacent streets, and from the elevated viewpoints of many central city buildings, the cathedral offers from within beautifully framed and precious vistas of the surrounding city. It is the largest nineteenth century ecclesiastical building in the English archaeological Gothic style anywhere in the world. The refinement and scholarship of its composition and details are of the highest rank. Together with St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne, St Mary's is the major ecclesiastical work of architect William Wardell, a Gothic Revival architect of international significance practising in Australia. The Cathedral is a repository of many items of aesthetic significance from the stained glass windows to the altars, statues, vestments, liturgical objects, paintings and mosaics and is important as a venue for musical events and has a considerable role in the practice of bell ringing in Australia. (State Projects, 1995)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
St Mary's Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Sydney and the mother diocese of Australia. In its physical and spiritual presence it proclaims the faith of the Catholic church. It is primarily a house of sacrament, prayer and worship. It is also a great civic edifice of importance to all the people of Sydney. Built on the site of the first official catholic church in the colony, the present cathedral complex links back through two centuries, without interruption, to the beginnings of the Catholic faith in Australia. It is a focus for the Catholic community of Australia, while through its musical and other artistic activities, it is an important part of the cultural life of Sydney. (State Projects, 1995)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
A major sandstone building in Sydney, the physical fabric of the cathedral demonstrates the quality of craft, engineering skill and sense of place achieved in yellow block sandstone structures in Victorian Sydney. The completion of the southern front end of the Cathedral by Hennessy Hennessy and Co demonstrates innovative building technology at the beginning of this century, especially in the techniques employed in the construction of the foundations and crypt. (State Projects, 1995)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
St Mary's is a rare example of the 19th century Gothic style Catholic Cathedral. (State Projects, 1995) The Chapter Hall is the only remaining intact building relating to Dr John Bede Polding, the first Archbishop of Australia. (Bennett)
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
St Mary's Cathedral and Chapter House has represented the centre of Catholic worship and culture in Sydney (and arguably the State) since its construction in the 1870s.
Integrity/Intactness: Although there is evidence of change reflecting liturgical evolution in the modified high alter, sanctuary, crypt and side chapels, the Cathedral and its interior present Wardell's design largely intact.
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 by State Projects, 1995.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions Component of heritage item - All

Exempt activities

1 Continuing maintenance, cleaning and repairs of existing fabric and structures, such as stonework and roof slates, where such activities are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP and the Standard Exemptions. (Standard Exemptions 1 and 2)

2 All activities for temporary change of use where such activities do not alter existing fabric or the setting of the heritage item, and are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP, such as temporary exhibitions and concerts. (Site specific)

3 Minor activities with no adverse impact on heritage significance or significant fabric, where the written endorsement of the Director has been obtained prior to works commencing, and where such activities are in accordance with the Standard Exemptions and conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Standard Exemptions 7 and 8)

4 Activities for installing and replacing interpretative signage, internally and externally, to provide information on the heritage significance of the item, where such signage is sympathetic with the materials and spaces of the heritage item, is free-standing or is fixed into mortar joints with a minimum number of fixtures, and is in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

Component of heritage item

5 All activities for gardening of existing garden beds where these activities do not impact on or damage existing built structures, such as retaining walls and fences, do not damage trees planted before 1940, and are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

6 Activities for installing and replacing external lighting where these activities do not impact on heritage fabric, fixtures and fittings, are sympathetic to the heritage item, and are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

7 Activities for installing and replacing external signage where these signs do not impact on heritage fabric, are sympathetic to the heritage item, and are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

Component of heritage item - Cathedral and Chapter House
8 Activities for installing and replacing building electrical and lighting services where such activities are sympathetic to and minimise alterations to heritage fabric and spaces, and are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

9 All activities for maintaining and altering the stormwater disposal system, such as guttering and downpipes, where such activities do not damage, are sympathetic to and minimise alterations to heritage fabric and spaces, and are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

10 Structural reinforcement of existing building fabric where these activities are sympathetic to and minimise alterations to heritage fabric and spaces, and are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

11 All activities for new burials in the Cathedral crypt where these activities minimise alterations to heritage fabric, do not permanently remove heritage fabric, disturb human remains or archaeological relics, and are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

12 Removal of timber screens inside western and southern entries of the Cathedral, as marked on Plan DE01 “Design Changes” dated 7/6/1994 in the CMP, where such activities are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

13 Removal of bookshop in south-western porch area of the Cathedral, as marked on Plan DE01 Design Changes dated 7/6/1994 in the CMP, where such activities do not impact on heritage fabric, and are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

14 Removal of concrete pedestrian bridge between the Cathedral and Cathedral House where such activities are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

15 Removal of concrete stairs to the south of remains of Old St Mary’s, where such activities do not disturb land and are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)

16 Removal of concrete apron to the perimeter of Chapter House, where such activities are in accordance with the conservation policies 1.11- 7.10 of the CMP. (Site specific)
Sep 3 2004
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
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.

FRANK SARTOR
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

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0170903 Sep 04 1427420

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Religious Heritage Nominations2001 Heritage Office  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Management Plan 2001Website of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney (http://www.sydney.catholic.org.au)
Tourism 2007St Mary's Catholic Cathedral and Chapter House View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007St Mary's Catholic Cathedral and Chapter House View detail
WrittenRobert Bennett1987St Mary's Cathedral Presbytery and High School Conservation Analysis
WrittenState Projects1995St Mary's Cathedral Conservation Plan

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

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(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: 5055071
File number: S91/02385


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