St. John's Anglican Cathedral | NSW Environment & Heritage

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St. John's Anglican Cathedral

Item details

Name of item: St. John's Anglican Cathedral
Other name/s: St John's Anglican Provisional Cathedral; St John's Cathedral; St John's Parish Church;
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Cathedral
Location: Lat: -33.8158687667 Long: 151.0026665780
Primary address: 195 Church Street, Parramatta, NSW 2124
Parish: St John
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Parramatta
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Deerubbin
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT1 DP1110057
PART LOT2 DP1110057

Boundary:

Part of Lot 1 DP 11100572 is included in the SHR curtilage to the extent of the existing carpark and open space fronting Hunter Street which is included to preserve existing historically significant views and vistas eastwards along Hunter Street to St John's Cathedral and north of the Cathedral through the grounds to the site of the Governor's annual Aboriginal feast (1814-32) and the Town Hall. Excluded from the proposed SHR curtilage is those parts of Lots 1 and 2 that contain the footprint of the existing Church (Memorial) Hall buildings (October 2009).
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
195 Church StreetParramattaParramattaSt JohnCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

St John's Cathedral is of state significance as the oldest church site and continuous place of Christian worship in Australia, dating from 1803; as one of the two oldest parishes proclaimed in Australia in 1802; for potential archaeology of the 1803 parish church of St John's that was the first parish church built in Australia, and for the historical significance and rarity of the two towers built in 1817-19 by Governor Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth that are the only surviving fabric of the first church of St John's, the oldest remaining part of any Anglican church in Australia and a rare surviving legacy of Governor Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie to the built environment of NSW.

Governor King's 1802 proclamation of the first two parishes of the colony of NSW -- St John's Parramatta and St Phillip's Sydney -- demonstrated the colony's early spiritual development and the formal recognition of the Church of England as the recognised denomination of the colony. The present St Johns' parish church (now Cathedral) is built on the site of the first (1803) parish church, whereas the present St Phillip's Church, York Street, Sydney has moved from the site of the first (1809) St Phillip's parish church that was built at nearby Lang Park.
Date significance updated: 17 May 10
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: Tower - John Watts; Nave & chancel - John Houison
Builder/Maker: Tower: Likely convict labour; Nave & chancel - Joh
Construction years: 1817-1885
Physical description: Setting and grounds / curtilage:
St.Johns Anglican Cathedral sits (today) in the heart of Parramatta's Centennial Square, its former town square and Governor Macquarie's market place.

The extensive church grounds (which are open to the public) are largely landscaped with flower beds, lawns, hedges and several established trees. A small late Victorian cottage, probably originally the verger's cottage, is located on the south-west corner of the site. The Royal Memorial Gates stand at the Church Street entrance to the grounds. These were erected in 1918 by the congregation as a memorial to men and women who volunteered for service in World War I. The pillars of the gates serve as a roll of honour and include the memorial's dedication on 23 March 1918. The stonework over the gateway displays the Royal Arms, permission for this being granted by King George V in November 1917.

The surroundings of the cathedral are grassed to south and east, and paved to west and north, with some English oak (Quercus robur) trees and a brush box (Lopohstemon confertus) amongst paving. A number of hybrid plane trees (Platanus x hybrida) also mark the north-running alignment of Church Street south to the cathedral. Several plaques around the oldest oak, commemorate the commencement and completion of the Church Street mall, which was the last major transformation of this space, closing off this section fo Church Street between Darcy and Macquarie Streets, making it a pedestrian only space.

Major trees south of the cathedral include jacarandas (J.mimosifolia) and brush boxes along the southern boundary of the space and further north. A mature Norfolk Island hibiscus / white oak / cow itch tree (Lagunaria patersonia) is also to the cathedral's south-east, in lawn. A line of hybrid plane trees traces the former kerb line of Church Street through what is now paved pedestrian mall (Stuart Read, pers.comm, 7/8/2013).

Church Hall:
The 1910 Memorial Church Hall and its associated later buildings are located in the north-west corner of the Centennial Square/the Cathedral grounds which provide hall and parish office premises and car parking. Only the small car park fronting Hunter Street to the west is included in the curtilage for the SHR listing.


Cathedral:
The cathedral itself was built in three main stages, St John's Anglican Cathedral combines Victorian Romanesque style with an (earlier) pair of Old Colonial Gothick towers.

The oldest part of the current building, the two western towers, were built between 1817 and 1819 on apparently new foundations to replace the collapsed vestry. The towers are modelled on the towers of the ruined 12th century Saxon Church of St Mary's at Reculver, Kent, England. The towers are four-storey structures of handmade sandstock bricks overlaid with cement render to give the appearance of stone. Each tower is divided into four storeys by string courses and topped by a tall copper clad spire. The corners have rendered quoins. Each level of the towers has small arched openings on the external faces. The openings on the top levels have louvred vents. On the first floor the openings have a window sash divided into a pair of pointed arches. At the ground floor of the towers, there is a pair of arched openings. The northern tower has a black clock face with gold markings on the upper floor of the north face. The spires are pyramidal with a broached base and are each topped by a cross. On each face of the spires is a vent.

The rest of the church building is constructed from local sandstone in the Victorian Romanesque style. This is demonstrated in the round-headed windows, round arches and columns in the nave and plain pillars. The mouldings and motifs of the door and panelling all display particular features of the style. Features of the Romanesque style are repeated internally and externally on the stonework and preserved in the later woodwork and fittings.

The nave and chancel of the church were built between 1852 and 1855 under the direction of James Houison, a noted architect and builder of Parramatta. The style of the church is Victorian Romanesque, due to the decision of Reverend HH Bobart and his church wardens that the new church should be Saxon (ie Norman) in design. A gabled roof with parapets at the east and west end is centred between the towers. Lower roofs over the side aisles are terminated at the west end by the towers.

Transepts added in 1883 to the design of Cyril Blacket continued the Saxon theme. An entry porch is located on the northern side. Vestry rooms are located on the eastern side of the transepts. The walls are of sandstone, smooth faced and margined to the quoins and sparrowpecked to the main walls. The roof is clad with slate shingles. Guttering is copper with a quad profile. Rainwater heads have the Fleur de Lis motif representing the trinity.

The church has its main entry at the west end, between the towers, facing the eastern end of Hunter Street. The entry is a large arch with moulded recesses. Above the arch is a pair of arched windows then a circular window near the top of the gable.

The faces on either side of the eastern and western windows are reminiscent of early medieval ecclesiastical architecture as are the crude lion heads above the eastern windows.

The mouldings on the western door are repeated in part on all of the internal woodwork, reredos, communion table, pulpit and round the external stonework of the windows. The western door has five rows of mouldings:
- a triple row of chevrons (zigzags), the most common of the decorations,
- beakheads. A grotesque and crude ornament suggesting either a head with a beak or a tongue hanging out like a cat's. The western door has three different beakhead designs, carved in pairs and repeated in sequence. The heads characterise owls, pigs and cats.
- ball flowers. A spherical flower with three lobes opening to show an enclosed sphere. This was commonly used in the 14th century.
- cog-like design, representing the teeth on a cog.
- chevrons, repeated.

The nave of the church is divided by buttresses into four bays between the transepts and the tower. Each bay has an arched opening to the nave and to the aisle with a series of recessed mouldings. The chevron motif, typical of Saxon design, features in the recesses. A label mould finishes the top of the openings. The east wall of the church has three tall arched openings. All the windows to the church have stained glass. At the eaves and near the top of the parapet walls, the stonework is finished with a dentilated motif. Stone crosses top the east and west facing parapet gables. Metal finials are at the top of the north and south parapet gables.

Inside the Cathedral, the reredos repeats the chevron and ball flower designs and also includes billets, which are small cylindrical blocks set in a hollow. These are also carved into the stone below the eastern windows. Another common motif that decorates the pulpit is the dog-tooth which consists of a row of pyramidical projections, each carved with four leaves.

The Cathedral's present day (October 2009) interior contains church furniture, furnishings and stained glass windows as well as a number of memorials and items of historical significance. These include:

- the 1599 Geneva (Breeches) Elizabethan Bible from Bath, England, located in the south transept;
- the London-made clock installed in 1821 in the northern tower;
- the 1846 tapestry, with portraits, that illustrates the unusual three-decker pulpit (for the Rector, Curate and Clerk) that was used at St John's until 1855;
- the JW Walker pipe organ brought from England in 1862, installed in the western gallery in 1863 and moved to the north transept in 1900;
- 13 memorial bells installed in the southern tower in 1923 with associated tablet;
- the font carved from totara wood and inlaid with paua shell, gifted by representative Maoris from New Zealand and installed in 1969 to commemorate the ministry of the Rev Samuel Marsden (the first Rector of St John's), to the Maoris' from 1814;
- a piece of stone from the Reculver Towers of the 12th century St Mary's Church, Kent, England with associated plaque mounted in the west wall;
- tapestries depicting Parramatta landmarks and flora located in the Sanctuary, the Chancel and some front pews.

There are significant memorials located within the Cathedral's interior, including the stained glass windows memorial tablets. Pre pre-1850 tablets commemorate the Rev Samuel Marsden (died 1838); Elizabeth Jane, wife of Governor Bourke (died 1832); John Blaxland (died 1845), and the first confirmation in Australia (1836).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The footprint of the current building does not appear to cover all of the earlier configurations of the first church of St John's, so that even if little remains under the current building there is a high likelihood that highly significant archaeological evidence is present in its immediate vicinity of the current church building.

Potential archaeology of an earlier verger' residence or other church building in the south west corner of Lot 2 DP 1110057 where a late Victorian cottage with garden is currently located.
Date condition updated:09 Aug 13
Modifications and dates: Timber shingled cladding to spires replaced with copper.

1852-55 Tower windows changed to arches

1863 JW Walker organ installed in the western gallery

1883 Transepts added to accommodate 80-90 people

1900 JW Walker organ moved into the north transept with the choir.

1918 Royal Memorial Gates installed (facing Church Street)

1923 Memorial carillon of 13 bells installed in south tower

1967 Major sub-floor ventilation works, including removal of centre aisle tiles and laying of new floorboards

1966 JW Walker organ restored

1969 Maori font installed

1972 Towers re-rendered

1988 South transept displays the 1599 Geneva Bible

1990s Garage built for cottage in south-west corner of the site.
Current use: Cathedral
Former use: Church

History

Historical notes: Parramatta:
The Indigenous people who inhabited the Parramatta River and its headwaters consisted of a number of clans, hordes or families known generally as the Darug Nation. At the head of the river were the Burramattagal clan (or Barramattagal) whose tribal lands included the area of the present day city of Parramatta. The country was highly suitable as a place to live with its ample fresh water, prolific plant and animal life and temperate climate.

European settlement of Parramatta dates from 2 November 1788 with Governor Phillip's settlement of convicts and soldiers at Rose Hill (on the south bank of the Parramatta River, within present day Parramatta Park) to clear and cultivate land to ensure food supplies for the infant penal colony. On 2 June 1791, to celebrate the birthday of King George III, Phillip named the Rose Hill settlement Parramatta, after the Barrumatta clan, noting that the name signified the 'head of a river'. While there seems to have been little conflict between the new settlers and the Indigenous inhabitants at this time in the Parramatta area (unlike Sydney Cove) the Barrumattagal clan were devastated by introduced European diseases, including the 1789 smallpox epidemic. By 1830 there were no known survivors of the Burramattagal clan (Kass, Liston, McClymont: 1996: 4-6, 14-16, 26; Parramatta Council riverside interpretation).

The Anglican Church in Parramatta:
The Chaplain of the First Fleet, Rev Richard Johnson, conducted the first Christian worship in Parramatta on 28 December 1788. Johnson visited Parramatta fortnightly and held services under a tree on the river bank near the present day ferry terminal at the end of Smith Street (St John's, 2005). The service on Christmas Day 1791 was held in a carpenter's shop near Governor Phillip's residence in Parramatta (St John's, 1988, p 5).

Church records from 1789 are kept on-site at the cathedral. The original records are held for baptisms (1789-present), marriages (1790-1823 and 1828-present) and burials (1790-present)(Parramatta Sun Magazine, 2013).

The Rev Samuel Marsden came to live in Parramatta in 1794 and in 1796 he dedicated a makeshift building of two old timber huts at the corner of George and Marsden Streets (the site of the present day Law Courts) as the first church building in the settlement. In a letter dated 17 September 1796 at Parramatta Marsden wrote "A convict hut is almost now ready for me to preach in at Parramatta, the first building of any kind that has ever been appropriated for that sacred use here since I came to the Colony" (Elder, 1932; St John's, 2005).

On 14 September 1798, Marsden wrote about his first service in this church, attended by 12 worshippers (HRNSW, 3, p 487). This reference has caused confusion to historians due to an editor's note (most likely erroneous) which states that this temporary church was "Built where St John's now stands".

The Rev James Samuel Hassall was born in Parramatta in 1823 and lived there during his childhood, being educated at The King's School. He was the eldest son of Rev. Thomas Hassall (1794-1868) and a grandson of Rev. Samuel Marsden (died 1838). Both James Hassall's father and grandfather were in Parramatta during its earliest days and undoubtedly James would have heard about these times from them both. In his reminiscences James twice mentions the old timber church "There had been a church, built of timber, at the corner of George and Macquarie (sic) Streets, but it was gone in my time, and a Court-house built upon the site" and "At Parramatta, the services were held in a carpenter's shop or in the open air, until, on the first Friday in August, 1796, Mr. Marsden opened a church built out of the materials of two old huts. This temporary place of worship stood at the corner of George and Marsden streets" (Hassall, 102, p 11).

Hassall did not name the streets correctly in the first quote with George and Macquarie Streets being parallel and not intersecting. But the additional information that a court house was later built upon the site shows it to correctly be the corner of George and Marsden Streets, as named in the second quotation (pers. comm., Pearce, 2009).

This is likely to be an authoritative location given Hassall's long-term familiarity with Parramatta and his connection to Marsden, his grandfather, who established this first (temporary) church and died when Hassall was 15 (pers. comm., Pearce, 2009).

Services continued to be held every Sunday in this temporary timber church until the first permanent brick church (on the site of the present St John's Cathedral) was opened in April 1803 (pers. comm. Pearce, 2009).

Governor John Hunter was a religious man and was concerned that there were no proper churches (Collins,1975 orig 1798, vol 2, p 260n). On 1 November 1798, Hunter reported he had laid the foundation of a small church at Parramatta (HRA, 1, 2, p 237, 722). It was later claimed that the foundation stone of St John's, the first brick church in Australia, was laid on 5 April 1797 (Hassall, 1902, p 146).

Foundations were also laid for a stone church at Sydney to measure 150 feet long and 52 feet wide. Preparations for 'making a similar building at Parramatta of smaller dimensions' were reported (Collins, volume 2, p 96). A Return of Public Works since October 1796 showed that by 25 September 1800, Hunter had 'Erected an elegant church at Parramatta one hundred feet length and forty-four feet in width, with a room of twenty feet long raised on stone pillars intended for a vestry or council room' (HRA, 1, 2, p 561). The Church was open but not complete in 1800 (Collins, volume 2, p 260n). In 1802, David Collins published a 'Plan & Elevation of a Church Built at Parramatta [sic] New South Wales during the Government of John Hunter Esqr 1800' (Collins, volume 2, p 223).

Governor King proclaimed the two first parishes in the colony on 23 July 1802 being St Phillip's, Sydney and St John's, Parramatta. On 9 November 1802 he declared that the church being built at Parramatta would be named as St John in honour of the former Governor, John Hunter (HRA, 1, 3, p 631). The new St John's was opened on 10 April 1803 when Rev. Samuel Marsden performed Divine Service for the first time, with a service based on 2 Chronicles c. 6 v.18. The church was described as being sizeable, handsome and well finished though the pews were to yet to be installed (Sydney Gazette, 17 April 1803, p 3). The original Church was stuccoed brick.

Governor King reported on 1 March 1804 that when he took control the church at Parramatta 'was just covering in' [i.e. being roofed] but was now complete (HRA, 1, 4, p 471). A sketch of the Parramatta Church in the Banks' papers from 1807 apparently sent by Governor Bligh was inscribed 'Parramatta Church, built of brick and in a very bad state; unfinished in the inside - Stands in a Swamp' (Banks Papers, volume 22, ML A85, p 277). The last notation may explain why there were problems with the stability of the church. Construction of a brick barrel drain from the 1820s onwards from the market place opposite the church (now the site of Parramatta Town Hall) to the river greatly improved the drainage of this vicinity (Higginbotham, 1983, pp 35-7). Continuing problems with the church were reported over the next few years (HRA, 1, 6, p 98, 125, 170).

Andrew Houison claimed that the vestry fell down though did not know when this occurred (Houison, 1903, p 124). No other reference to this event can be found but on 1 August 1810, Macquarie instructed Lt. Durie, Commandant at Parramatta, to detail Richard Rouse to make temporary repairs to the church as directed by Marsden that could be completed 'with little labour and Expense' (SRNSW 4/3490C, p 142). Durie instructed Rouse to do this within the next few days (SRNSW 4/1725, p 322). In 1812, James Harrax was paid (Pounds)110 for 'Repairs' to the church (Wentworth Papers, ML D1, p 29). From 1 October to 31 December 1813, repairs to St John's to the value of (Pounds)431/3/4 were completed (Sydney Gazette, 5 Feb 1814, p 2).

Between 1817 and 1819, twin towers were added at the western end where the vestry had been. The towers were a copy of those at the 12th century Saxon Church of St Mary's at Reculver Church, Kent, England. A campaign to save that church was raging when the Macquaries left England (Kerr & Broadbent, 1980, p 39). Mrs Elizabeth Macquarie showed Lieutenant John Watts, Aide De Camp of the 46th Regiment a watercolour of the church and asked him to design some towers for the church (Macfarlane, 1992, p 38). A watercolour of Reculver Church in the Mitchell Library has a note in Macquarie's hand that he laid the foundation stone on 23 December 1818. Mrs Macquarie chose the plan and Lt. Watts was responsible for implementing the design (ML D337).

The 1803 church and the 1819 towers were both most likely constructed by convict labour.

When listing achievements in the colony, Macquarie noted that at Parramatta, he had ' The Old Church repaired, new roofed, lengthened and greatly improved, inside and out, new Chancel and Spire being added thereto, the Outer Walls stuccoed in imitation of Stone, and the Church Yard enclosed with a neat Paling' (HRA, 1, 10, p 689).

In 1835, Lachlan Macquarie's widow, Elizabeth, wrote to the Colonial Office seeking a post for Lt. Watts. After noting that Rouse had been a very upright but 'indolent' man, she explained how Macquarie had used Lt. Watts to undertake a construction programme in Parramatta from 1815 onwards. In the course of these works, Watts 'new modelled the Church according to the sketch I enclose'. The sketches showed the church in 1810 and after completion by Watts. The church in 1810 included no vestry as originally shown in sketches published by Collins and others but a pile of bricks at the western end with columns lying on the ground that were the remains of the vestry. The re-building included new towers and the windows were altered from round-headed ones to lancet windows and the rounded end of the building had been squared up (CO 323, 140, pp 233-7; Kass, Liston, McClymont, 1996, illus opp 47).

In 1918, E L Rowling, who arrived in Parramatta in 1844, claimed that Reverend Bobart and James Houison had informed him that the brickwork of the tower erected by convicts needed to have inverted arches on each floor to make it stand (Macfarlane,1992, p 39). An Order from Macquarie of 2 January 1819 thanked Watts for his work in designing new buildings including 'erecting a Tower and Steeple to the Church of St Johns at Parramatta' (Sydney Gazette, 2 Jan 1819).

In 1821 a clock built by Thwaites and Reed of London was installed in the north tower, with a single clock face pointing north. The clock has to be wound manually, requiring an ascent of two flights of stairs. This clock is one of the oldest still functioning timepieces in Australia.

From 1814 to 1832 Reverend William Shelley conducted the Native Institution to the north-west of St John's (in the area bounded by Macquarie, Marsden and Hunter Streets and the church land) where he attempted to educate a small number of Aboriginal children. In 1832 the Native Institution moved to Black Town (7 km west of Parramatta) to land reserved for its exclusive use.

Governor Macquarie was anxious to promote peaceful relations with the Aboriginal inhabitants of the region. He initiated in 1814 an annual feast as a great meeting with the 'tribes' of the district at the Market Place, immediately to the east (rear) of St. John's, which continued into the 1830s. The largest gathering recorded of Aboriginal people, some 340, assembled at the Market Place in 1821 to farewell Macquarie, acknowledging his genuine efforts to understand and gain their trust and confidence (Kass, Liston, McClymont, 1996, pp 81, 105).

St John's was damaged by a fierce storm on 21 December 1841 when the chamber between the two towers was heavily damaged by lightning. Its shingles and rafters were ripped apart and the roofing lead was swept away. 'The whole west end appears shaken' wrote an observer (SMH, 24 Dec 1841, p 2). At a meeting in the vestry in 14 April 1846, Reverend HH Bobart noted the poor condition of the church roof. A campaign commenced to raise funds to replace it (Jervis, 1963, p 9).

In April 1850, it was reported St John's had two roofs, and the outer one was leaking water into the cavity where it ran into the walls. The steeples were losing their shingles. The exterior timber needed paint and the stucco on the walls was flaking away (SMH, 17 April 1850, p 2). By June 1852, the Church was reported to be a 'perfect ruin'. The roof was removed and the walls needed replacing. When removing the laths, the ceiling joists fell in several places. A decision had already been made to replace the church (SMH, 12 June 1852, Supp, p 2). Local architect and builder James Houison was contracted to complete the new nave and chancel for (Pounds)1,350 ($2,700) (Jervis, 1963, p 10).

Late in July 1852, when workmen were removing the foundations of the church during demolition, they found a copper sheet in Latin (SMH, 26 July 1852, p 2). It translates as, 'The foundation stone of this church was laid Anno Domini 1799, during the Governorship of John Hunter. George III, King of England, has reigned 38 years' (Jervis, 1963, p 5-6).

Reverend HH Bobart and churchwardens Francis Watkins, E Rowling and J McManus were responsible for the plan of the new church (Jervis, 1963, p 10). It would be 'Saxon' in design (i.e. Norman) with semi-circular windows and doors, with interior arches and columns of similar character. Proposals to include Gothic windows were rejected by the churchwardens, as it would confuse the design. The Herald suggested that a 'massive Saxon door' be erected at the western end (SMH, 7 August 1852 p 2). In 1915, the Minister W J Gunther reported that the 'Norman doorway' between the two towers was the design of Reverend HH Bobart (SMH, 28 April 1915, p 5).

Bishop WG Broughton, when laying the foundation stone on 11 August 1852 (before his return to England) also changed the dedication of the church when he noted that he laid "the foundation stone of a Church to be rebuilt in this place named the Church of St John the Evangelist" (SMH, 14 Aug 1852, p 3; St John's, 2005).

The nave and aisles were re-opened for Divine Service on 1 July 1855 (Cumberland Mercury, 28 April 1883, p 4). Gunther stated this was when church was dedicated (Gunther, 1910, p 9). The Church was properly consecrated by a service by Bishop Barker on 19 March 1858 (Jervis, 1963, p 11). The towers were re-coated and lightning conductors were added and galvanised tiles replaced the shingles (Jervis, 1963, p 12). By April 1858, the cost of rebuilding the church, repairing the towers and erecting a lodge amounted to (Pounds)5,864 ($11,728) with (Pounds)900 ($1,800) still owed to Houison (SMH, 15 April 1858, p 5). Re-building in stone removed the older brick church except the towers erected by Watts for Macquarie (Hassall, 1902, p 11). In the renovations of the 1850s, the tower windows were altered to round headed ones to accord with the Norman style of architecture (Macfarlane, 1992, p 39).

The land had not yet been granted to the Church. On 11 January 1856, surveyor M. Burrowes transmitted his plan of the Church land for grant purposes. It showed the church outline on the site plus some small buildings in the south-west corner of the site (C.584.730 Crown Plan). On 22 December 1857, the United Church of England and Ireland was granted the church site as 1 acre 2 roods 18 perches (Grants, volume 330, No 57/3, Lands). The 1856 Plan of Site aligns with Lot 2 DP 1110057 (at October 2009).

The church lands were enlarged around 1911 with the addition of a land parcel fronting Hunter Street on the north-western boundary of the site. The 1910 Memorial Church hall and later church hall additions were built on this additional land parcel (which aligns with Lot 1 DP1110057 at October 2009).

The foundation stone of two transepts designed by Blacket and Sons was laid on 24 April 1883 (Cumberland Mercury, 28 April 1883, p 4). Cyril Blacket appears to have completed the design after he borrowed Houison's plans and matched his detail so that the new work blended in successfully. Parramatta builder Herbert Coates undertook the construction work (Kerr, 1983, p 37). This was completed in November 1883 and a service held. Additionally, the lower part of the towers was re-cemented to 8 feet above the ground (Jervis, 1963, p 13). In a fierce storm on 10 November 1885 lightning struck the lightning rod on the tower but jumped across into the tower wall cracking it and blasting a hole a foot in diameter, shearing off plaster and smashing the vestry ceiling (Cumberland Mercury, 11 Nov 1885, p 2).

With the addition of the transepts and vestries in 1885 the church building took on its present form.

On 15 September 1917 the laying of the foundation stone of the Royal Memorial Gateway was carried out by the Lt-Governor. This memorial to the soldiers of St. John's was opened and dedicated by the Governor General on 23 March 1918 before a crowd of 'thousands of spectators'. The Governor-General had secured King George V's permission to place the royal coat of arms over the gates (St John's, 1918; pers. comm. Pearce, 2009).

A peal of 13 bells (the memorial carillon) was installed in the southern tower in 1923 and these were dedicated before a crowd of 'about 4,000 persons' by the Archbishop of Sydney on 26 May 1923 (St John's, 1923).

During the 1960s, in the process of re-coating the towers, workmen found that in the course of original construction, rough bush poles inserted into the brickwork had provided scaffolding. They were cut off as the rendering work proceeded from the top of the tower to the bottom (Macfarlane, 1992, p 42).

St. John's was granted the status of a Provisional Cathedral with the appointment of the first Bishop in Parramatta in 1969, who became the Bishop of Western Sydney in 1998 (pers. comm Pearce, 2009).

The Cathedral grounds were first opened to the public in 1953. Since the 1986 closure of Church Street to motor vehicles, the parish council administration, St John's clergy and Parramatta City Council have worked co-operatively to open up the church's grounds to community access and use.

Although the church building is a traditional cruciform Anglican church, the uses to which it is put continue to evolve. Services range from traditional prayer book with organ music, hymns and robed clergy to modern more informal styles using contemporary music and instruments and incorporating computerized sound and projection systems. Also St. John's now reflects the rich cultural diversity of the City of Parramatta with services being conducted in four languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Farsi.

St John's has historical links with the Royal NSW Lancers who have been stationed in Parramatta since 1897 and who are commemorated in a memorial in the Cathedral.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. All nations - place of first contact between Aboriginal and European peoples-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. All nations - 'feasting' with governors-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Convict-Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities Working for the Crown-
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 rural to suburban-
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 Demonstrating Governor Macquarie's town and landscape planning-
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 Creating landmark structures and places in regional settings-
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 Indicators of early town planning and the disposition of people within the emerging settlement-
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 Developing suburbia-
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 Developing civic infrastructure and amenity-
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 Planning relationships between key structures and town plans-
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. Direct vice-regal governance (pre 1856)-
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 - providing rail transport-
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. Designing making and using ecclesiastical furniture-
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. Landscaping - 20th century post WW2-
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 - Victorian-
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 - colonial Gothic-
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 - Victorian Romanesque 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. Designing making and showing stained and coloured glass-
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. Designing structures to emphasise their important roles-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Providing halls and other community facilities-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Anglicanism-
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. Erecting and visiting monuments and memorials-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with James Houison, colonial architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. Thomas Hassall, the galloping parson-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Flash Jack from Gundagai, bushranger-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor (Rt.Hon.) Somerset Lowry-Corry, Earl of Belmore, GCMG, 1868-1872-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Aaron Muron Bolot, architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor Sir (later Lord) Augustus F.S.Loftus, 1879-1884+-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor (Rebel government, 1809) Lt-Col. William Paterson, soldier and naturalist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. Samuel Marsden, archbishop of colony-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Cyril Blacket, architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Richard Rouse, Superintendent of government works, Parramatta-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. William Shelley, director of Parramatta Native Institution, 1814-31-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. William Shelley, director of Parramatta Native Institution, 1814-31-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. H.H.Bobart, Anglican Chaplain and architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Herbert Coates, Parramatta builder-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with John Watts, colonial 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 Watts, colonial architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor (Captn.) Phillip Gidley King RN, 1800-1806-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Bishop William Grant Broughton, Anglican bishop of Australia-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
St John's Cathedral, Parramatta has historical significance at State level as the site of one of the two earliest Anglican parishes established in Australia (1802); the site of the first parish church built in Australia (1803) and the only such site to have remained in continuous use as a church from 1803 to the present time; and for its towers built in 1817-19 which are the only surviving fabric of the first St John's church and a rare surviving legacy of Governor Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie to the built environment of NSW.

St John's has long been regarded as one of the mother churches of Australia. In 1802, Governor King proclaimed the first two churches in Australia - St Philip's, Sydney and St John's, Parramatta. This act confirmed the Church of England as the official denomination of the colony, extending the power of the Church of England from Britain to Australia. As the church of the second mainland settlement of the colony, the creation of the parish of St John's embedded religion into the social values of colony.

Remains of the original 1803 brick parish church may still survive as archaeological evidence. The surviving fabric of this first parish church built in the colony dates from 1817-1819, being the two towers commissioned by Governor Lachlan Macquarie which follow the design model suggested by Elizabeth Macquarie and implemented by Lt John Watts. These towers are the oldest remaining part of any Anglican church in Australia.

The erection of the extant towers was a significant element of Governor Macquarie's programme of fostering religion and education as well as his desire to make Parramatta (the second mainland settlement of the colony and the site of his second Government House) into a tidy, well-ordered settlement.

Surviving views and vistas of St Johns Cathedral have state historical significance. These include: east along Hunter Street to the Cathedral towers; east from Hunter Street across the northern Cathedral grounds towards the Town Hall and the site of the Governor's annual 'feast' with Aboriginal clans (instituted by Governor Macquarie) that took place at the rear (eastern end) of the Cathedral, and views from Church Street towards St John's Cathedral.

The Cathedral contains furniture, furnishings, fixtures, fittings, memorial and items of moveable heritage of historical significance. These, together with the Royal Memoral Gates in the grounds, are detailed in the Description field.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
St John's Cathedral meets this criterion of State significance because it has strong associations with three early colonial governor's, with Elizabeth Macquarie (wife of one of these governors) and with Lt John Watts as an important early designer of colonial buildings, especially in Parramatta. It also has associations with colonial architectes John Houison and Cyril Blacket and with the regiment of Royal NSW Lancers stationed in Parramatta.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered the construction of the towers and his wife Elizabeth Macquarie provided the model for the tower design. Lt John Watts (who was also responsible for the design of Macquarie's extensions to Old Government House, Parramatta) implemented Elizabeth Macquarie's design for the towers.
Reverend Samuel Marsden, resident of Parramatta from 1794 to his death in 1838 and the first Rector of St John's, was long associated with this church and is regarded by Anglicans as one of their founding ministers.
The church is associated with Governor Hunter who left a major legacy in the infant colony by his promotion of religion and churches. He laid the foundation stone of the original brick church in 1797 or 1798.and in 1802 proclaimed the Parish of St John's Parramatta. St John's has been the parish church since 1803. The church of St John's was named in Governor Hunter's honour by Governor King when he set up the parishes in Parramatta and Sydney in 1802.
The site is associated with Governor King who proclaimed the Parish of St John's Parramatta in 1802 and named the parish church of St John's for Governor Hunter in 1803.
The Cathedral is significant as the work of three notable architects who worked in New South Wales in the nineteenth century: Lieutenant John Watts, James Houison and Cyril Blacket.
St John's is associated with the regiment of Royal NSW Lancers, stationed in Parramatta from 1897.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
St John's Cathedral meets this criterion of State significance because the towers of St John's Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta show the influence of Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth who suggested the use of the Reculver church for the design of the original St John's Chapel, and also by demonstrating the key role of Lt John Watts in advancing this design with speed and efficiency as well as Macquarie's wider programme of building in Parramatta.
The design of St John's demonstrates the importance Macquarie placed on constructing civic buildings of style that would both improve and civilise the convict colony of NSW.
The towers of St John's Cathedral are an important surviving element of Macquarie's ambitious public works program.
The towers were a focal point in the nineteenth century townscape of Parramatta. Although hidden by higher more recent development from more distant views, they continue to be an important part of the streetscape of Parramatta. The twin spires of St John's have long been an important element of the civic identity and landscape of Parramatta. They dominate the town in almost every nineteenth century view of Parramatta.
The Cathedral is significant as the work of three notable architects who worked in New South Wales in the nineteenth century: Lieutenant John Watts, James Houison and Cyril Blacket.
The overall design is a fine example of the Victorian Romanesque style utilising the towers of the previous chapel on the site to frame the western front and to visually anchor the building.

Three extant churches survive from the Macquarie era; St James, King Street, Sydney; St Matthew's, Windsor; and St Luke's, Liverpool. All are churches designed by Macquarie's Civil Architect, ex-convict Francis Greenway. Their extant fabric and visual impact demonstrate Macquarie's grand scheme to enhance the built form and aesthetics of the colony as well as his programme of re-vitalising convict society through religion as well as education.
The towers of St John's Church, Parramatta, though not designed by Greenway, are an important demonstration of the same aims in the second town of the colony and illustrate Macquarie's desire to undertake the same re-vitalisation by boosting an existing church, as part of his wider scheme of improving Parramatta.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
It meets this criterion of State significance as St John's has been the centre of an active Anglican community since its inception. This activity has continued to the present day.
The parish of St John's Parramatta originally catered for the whole of the western Cumberland Plain. Parishioners came from surrounding districts to worship at St John's. As settlement progressed, St John's established satellite churches which evolved into separate parishes.
The Anglican Church has acknowledged its ongoing commitment to the continued preservation of the Cathedral as a significant item of Anglican heritage in Australia for the purpose of continued Christian worship. The commitment of its parishioners is ongoing.
St John's Cathedral has local heritage significance as a landmark site of community esteem in the Sydney's second city and demographic centre. The Cathedral is a prominent landmark located in park-like grounds that are daily traversed by Parramatta's large population of commuters en route to the bus and rail interchange.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
It appears to meet this criterion of State significance due to the potential archaeological remains on this site of the 1803 brick parish church of St John's, the first parish church built in Australia.
Any surviving archaeology from the 1803 church would provide rare and significant evidence of the earliest establishment of Christian worship in the penal colony of NSW.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
It meets this criterion of State significance as the site of the original 1803 brick parish church which was the first parish church built in the colony. Archaeology of this building may still survive in the vicinity of the current Cathedral building as a rare resource with potential to reveal data about early church building in convict Australia.
The two towers constructed in 1817-1819 are the only surviving fabric of this first church building. As such they have rarity at state level as the oldest remaining part of any Anglican church in Australia and as rare extant examples of the legacy of Governor Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie to the built environment of NSW. The towers are also rare in Australian ecclesiastical architecture as the only church towers constructed in the colonial period and one of the small number of church or cathedral towers built to date in Australia.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
It does not appear to meet this criterion of State significance.
Integrity/Intactness: General condition including the render on the towers appears to be good.
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
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.
Mar 5 2010
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions SCHEDULE“C

Note that the site has high potential to contain intact subsurface deposits relating to its establishment as a religious site (original chapel) as well as the use of the land prior to the early land grant of 1797. The site was also adjacent to the Native Institution and may contain archaeological deposits relating to this use of the site.

In accordance with the Parramatta Historical Archaeological Landscape Management Study (PHALMS) 2001, Archaeological Management Unit 2992, the recommended management includes completion of an Archaeological Assessment when new works would involve major ground disturbance and/or new excavations.

The following activities described in 1–9 below are exempted from Heritage Council approval under Section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977:

Continuing maintenance, cleaning and repairs of existing fabric and structures, such as stonework and roof slates, where such activities are in accordance with the Standard Exemptions.

All activities for temporary change of use where such activities do not alter existing fabric or the setting of the heritage item such as temporary exhibitions and concerts.

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.

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.

All activities for gardening of existing garden beds including digging to a maximum depth of 30cm, where these activities do not impact on or damage existing built structures, such as retaining walls and fences, do not damage trees and do not involve the disturbance of archaeological ‘relics’.

Activities for installing and replacing external lighting where these activities do not impact on heritage fabric, fixtures and fittings, and are sympathetic to the heritage item.

Activities for installing and replacing external signage where these signs do not impact on heritage fabric, do not involve the disturbance of archaeological ‘relics’ and are sympathetic to the heritage item and the heritage precinct.

Activities for installing and replacing building electrical and lighting services where such activities are sympathetic to and minimise alterations to heritage fabric and spaces.

All activities for maintaining and altering the storm water 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 reuse existing underground service trenches without the need for new excavations.
Mar 5 2010
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementConservation Management Plan for St John's Cathedral, Parramatta - for endorsement Aug 28 2018

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0180505 Mar 10 361155
Regional Environmental PlanSydney REP 28 - Parramatta (state-signif.item)10520 Aug 99   
Local Environmental PlanParramatta City Centre LEP 2007801 Jun 07   
Register of the National EstateSt.John's Pro-Cathedral304121 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Parramatta Heritage Study1983 Walker, M. & Kass, T.  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 2005St John's Cathedral Parramatta Welcomes You
Written 1889Historical Records of Australia
Written 1878Cumberland Mercury
Written -19Sydney Morning Herald
Written  Banks Papers (ML A85)
Written  Plans of buildings erected mainly at Parramatta by Lachlan Macquarie (ML D337)
WrittenA Houison1903"Odd Bits in the History of Parramatta"
WrittenA Souvenir of the Royal Gate1918 
WrittenC Rapp, J Pearce, J Roe1988St John's Parramatta
WrittenColonial Office Correspondence CO 323, 140
WrittenDavid Collins1802An Account of the English colony in New South Wales
WrittenHM Arrowsmith The Cradle Church of Australia
WrittenJ Jervis1963A Short History of St John's Church, Parramatta
WrittenJenny and Mark Pearce, Hon Archivists, St John's Cathedral, Parramatta2009Personal Communication with Heritage Branch, Department of Planning
WrittenJR Elder1932The Letters and Journals of Samuel Marsden 1765-1838
WrittenJS Hassall In Old Australia: Records and Reminiscences from 1794
WrittenK Bennett, R Byrne2005St John's Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta, Australia - Facts File
WrittenM&A Macfarlane1992John Watts: Australia's forgotten architect 1814-19 & South Australia's Postmaster General 1841-1861
WrittenParramatta Sun Magazine2013'Iconic St.John's Anglican Cathedral', in 'The Parramatta Sun Magazine' 4/2013
WrittenStedinger Associates2009Bicentennial square. Proposed landscape works: an archaeological assessment and excavation permit exception application
WrittenT Kass, C Liston, J McClymont1996Parramatta: a past revealed
ElectronicTerry Kass2009SHR Nomination
WrittenThe Bells of St John's Parramatta1923 

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: 5060990
File number: 14/5147; H99/89/1; 09/3748/1


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