The Church of St James is located at 173 King Street in Sydney. The church, originally intended as a court house, was designed by Francis Greenway (an ex-convict) and was consecrated in February 1824 by Reverend Samuel Marsden. The church was built within the Hyde Park Barracks and the court buildings precinct as part of Greenway’s townscape vision.
St James became the second church for the colony of New South Wales after St Phillip’s Church was destroyed by fire. For seven years, the first bishop of Australia used St James Church whilst waiting for St Andrews Cathedral to be completed.
Oldest Surviving Church
Today the church is also Sydney’s oldest surviving church building (1820-1824) though it has had several substantial additions made throughout the years. In 1832 John Verge built the vestries. Verge also was responsible for the pulpit being faced towards the “high-rent” pews. While the well to do sat facing the preacher, the convicts and the military had to sit behind the priest, where the sermons were inaudible.
Between 1892-1901 the exterior was renewed and the interior was reconstructed by Varney Parkes and Burcham Clamp and in 1986 the church was refurbished and the chapel glass windows installed. The church was built from sandstock-brick in a Georgian style and features Doric porticos and a central tower with a copper-sheathed spire.
Inside the church is a marble memorial tablet in honour of the many prominent members of the society of which many died in quite horrid circumstances. Included on the wall is Captain Collet Barker who was killed by Aboriginals on an expedition of the Murray River. The plaque is on the north wall which was seen as the most suitable place to commemorate important members of colonial society.