Inspired Project For Sydney's Oldest Church

< BACK TO CONSTRUCTION starstarstarstarstar   Industry - Construction Press Release
19th October 2010, 04:25pm - Views: 559

Media Release

19 October 2010

Aspiration turns to reality for historic City Church

The project to save the spire of Sydney’s oldest church – St James’ King Street, consecrated

in 1824 – has been completed at a cost of $1.3 million.

The spire was the tallest building in Sydney for most of the 19th century – and as such was a

key navigational aid to the tall ships as they made their way up the Harbour.

It will be formally rededicated by the Bishop of South Sydney, the Right Reverend Robert

Forsyth, at a Ceremony of the Bells on Wednesday night.

The celebration will mark the end of Phase 1 of the $3 million conservation plan for essential

works to the historic Francis Greenway designed, convict built church, constructed under the

sponsorship of Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

British architectural historian and BBC television presenter, Dan Cruickshank, nominated St

James’ as Australia’s contribution to the world’s greatest man-made treasures in his highly

regarded “Around the World in 80 Treasures” TV series.


to replace the 100 year old copper plating on the spire and reinforce its water-

damaged structure started two years ago alongside a fundraising initiative to pay for the


The original Orb and Cross, which sit atop of the Spire, were also taken down and

conserved for the first time since the 1820s.These items still bear the convict arrow marks

that show the copper to be government property.

The Rector of St James’, The Reverend Andrew Sempell commented: “The completion of

the work will ensure that St James’ retains its rightful place as an icon in the City of Sydney

and in the history of our nation.”

The project was guided by Design 5 Heritage Architects and approved by The National


Mrs Fiona Balfour, Chair of the fundraising committee, said:”

Conservation work of this

scale and importance can only happen when the community works together.  

“I am delighted with the response and would like to especially acknowledge The Vincent

Fairfax Family Foundation for its very generous gift to the project.  

“We would not have completed this initiative without their support. Additionally, important

donations were also received from The Heritage Council of NSW, The Commonwealth Bank,

Westpac, The City of Sydney, The Macquarie Foundation, The AMP Foundation and a large

number of private donors drawn from the Parish of St James’ and members of the adjacent

business community and legal fraternity.”  

Records reveal Nathaniel Ewer was the convict Francis Greenway asked to copper the

original spire. He was 32 when

he arrived in Sydney on The Fanny

in 1816, with a seven

year sentence for grand larceny – stealing books and stationery from a cart. 

In a letter to Governor Brisbane in 1822, Ewer put himself forward as a suitable candidate for

the construction of the Spire. He escaped from the Colony twice but in 1822 – as the original

work was completed - got his freedom. 

He also did the copper work at the Parramatta Observatory for Governor Brisbane. 

Phase 2 of the conservation program will replace the church’s slate

roof and repair the

convict-made brick walls at a cost of $1.1 million.

Fundraising efforts are now underway to ensure this “once in a century” project is achieved.

Donations to the National Trust of Australia (NSW) St James’ King Street Conservation

Appeal are fully tax-deductible and can be made by contacting the Parish Office on:  (02)

8227 1300.


Rededication of the Spire of historic St James’ Church King Street, Sydney.

Quarter Peal of the Bells ceremony and service


Wednesday, 20 October 2010




Drinks Party afterwards in the crypt

Media contacts: Fiona Balfour 0419257914 or Rev Andrew Sempell 02 8227 1300

news articles logo NEWS ARTICLES
Contact News Articles |Remove this article