St Charles Borromeo Church and cemetery

Item details

Name of item: St Charles Borromeo Church and cemetery
Other name/s: St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church Ryde, Saint Charles
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 552-586 Victoria Road, Ryde, NSW 2112
Parish: Hunters Hill
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Ryde
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
552-586 Victoria RoadRydeRydeHunters HillCumberlandPrimary Address
Charles StreetRydeRyde  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The church and cemetery , developed in the 1850s, are of historical significance as the focal points for the early Catholic settlers north of the Parramatta River, with St Charles the "mother church" of many current Catholic parishes. The cemetery is the last resting place of many early pioneers including Didier Numa Joubert (d. 1881), and evidences the influence of the French Catholic settlers at Hunters Hill. It surrounds the parish church, which was so significant to these pioneers and their descendants. It exhibits important evidence of the multicultural nature of the early Catholic community. The church has historical association with the local Catholic community since 1857, and with architects A.W.N. Pugin (1841 design) and Fowell & McConnel (1934). The cemetery has many graves of early pioneers of the Ryde and Hunters Hill Districts, and provides a unique testimony to the inter-family links in the district that are not obvious elsewhere. The public cross was imported from France by the Marist Fathers, who were French themselves and were the early pastors of the church. The church facade is a rare example of an 1841 Pugin-designed church façade (built in 1857), in Australia, albeit moved by Fowell & McConnel in 1934. The church is of aesthetic significance as an amalgam of the 1857 church and a 1934 Fowell & McConnel church design. The remaining 19th century memorials are in good condition , are attractively sited, and are a public showcase of colonial stonemasonry in the 19th. and 20th. Centuries. The iron public cross is believed to have been made in a unique French style. The church remains of social significance to the local Catholic community. The details of the stonemasonry, inscriptions, etc. of the cemetery are of research significance for their valuable genealogical information, including some not officially recorded, The church and cemetery are rare in the Ryde district as a mid-19th century cemetery and a church developed from 1856. The facade and westernmost bay of the church are rare examples in Australia of the 1840s design work of English Gothic revival architect A.W.N. Pugin.
Date significance updated: 10 Jan 13
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 Department of Premier and Cabinet copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: A.W.N. Pugin (1857 front); Fowell & McConnel (Kenneth H McConnel) 1934 rebuilding
Construction years: 1851-1934
Physical description: SITE:
The site of the church and cemetery is bounded by Victoria Road and Charles Street on the north and west sides, the presbytery and school on the eastern side, and offers views over Ryde to Parramatta River to the south. The church is prominently located on the elevated site on the corner of Victoria Road and Charles Street. The grounds incorporate a cemetery and a contemporary brick church hall.

CEMETERY:
The cemetery is approximately one hectare, surrounding the church. Approximately seventy stone memorials to those buried in the churchyard remain on the site, with another thirty or so having been displaced and re-erected in accordance with a conservation plan. The cemetery is well grassed and well kept. It is dominated by a large, handsome iron cross erected by the French Marist Fathers c. 1870.

CHURCH:
The church is a large sandstone building with a gabled slate roof. The church consists of an original 1857 Victorian Gothic Church designed by renowned Gothic architect A.W.N. Pugin which was extended and rebuilt in 1934 by Fowell & McConnell architects, preserving the main front of the old church. All its detail elements have been incorporated in the later structure, albeit in different positions.

The Church has a central nave, north entry porch, east and west aisles and a western porch and belfry that comprised the front of the original church. The church is constructed of random course stone work with massive wall buttresses and parapeted gables. Gable ends are punctuated with narrow louvred ventilators and the apex of each gable is adorned with a crucifix. The gabled roof is clad in slate. There are dressed stone pointed arch openings. Fenestration features stained glass and diamond pattern leadlight. Doors are timber boarded.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The church is in good condition. The remaining monuments are in good condition and the grounds are well maintained.
Date condition updated:08 Dec 11
Modifications and dates: 1857: construction of original stone church with a 250-seat capacity to an 1841 design by A.W.N. Pugin
c. 1870: iron cross erected by the Marist Fathers in the cemetery
1900: Cemetery closed for public burials
1934: enlargement and rebuilding of the church to a 600-seat capacity, retaining the original front, to a design by architects Fowell & McConnel

A brick paved forecourt and contemporary modular seating detracts from the setting of the church
Current use: Church and cemetery setting
Former use: Church and cemetery

History

Historical notes: AREA HISTORY
Aboriginal people inhabited the Sydney basin for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. The northern coastal area of Sydney was home to the Guringai people, western Sydney was home to the Dharug clans, and southern Sydney was inhabited by the Dharawal clans. The Guringai lived primarily along the foreshores of the harbour, and fished and hunted in the waters and hinterlands of the area. All clans harvested food from their surrounding bush. Self-sufficient and harmonious, they had no need to travel far from their lands, since the resources around them were so abundant, and trade with other tribal groups was well established. The British arrival in 1788 had a dramatic impact on all of the Sydney clans. Food resources were quickly diminished by the invaders, who had little understanding of the local environment. As a result, the Aboriginal people throughout the Sydney Basin were soon close to starvation. The Sydney clans fought back against the invaders, but the introduction of diseases from Europe and Asia, most notably smallpox, destroyed over half the population. The clearing of land for settlements and farms displaced local tribes and reduced the availability of natural food resources, leaving Aboriginal people reliant on white food and clothing. The French surgeon and pharmacist Rene Primavere Lesson, who visited Sydney in 1824, wrote: "the tribes today are reduced to fragments scattered all around Port Jackson, on the land where their ancestors lived and which they do not wish to leave." (Information taken from City of Ryde Aboriginal Site Management Report, Aboriginal Heritage Office, 2011).

In the early years of European settlement of Sydney, the Ryde area was found to be highly suitable for farming and orchards, and early colonial land grants to marines were given to encourage agriculture. In January 1792 land in the area which extended from Dundas to the Lane Cove River along the northern bank of the river, was granted to eight marines. The area was named by Governor Phillip the “Field of Mars”, Mars being the ancient Roman God of war, named to reflect the military associations of the land grantees. Two of these land grants were made in the modern area of the suburb of Ryde. Isaac Archer and John Colethread each received 80 acres of land on the site of the present Ryde-Parramatta Golf Links (now in West Ryde).

These grants were followed soon after by grants to ten emancipated convicts in February 1792, the land being further to the east of the marine’s grants, in the area now central to Ryde. Most of the grants were small, from 30 to 100 acres. This area was called Eastern Farms or the Eastern Boundary. By 1794 the name Eastern Farms had given way to Kissing Point, a name believed to have originated from the way in which heavily laden boats passing up the Parramatta River bumped or ‘kissed’ the rocky outcrop which extends into the river at today’s Kissing Point. Further grants were issued in 1794 and 1795, gradually occupying most of the foreshores between Meadowbank and Gladesville. Some of the grants were at North Brush, north of the Field of Mars settlement, in the area of Brush Farm and Eastwood.

Much later these were bought by John Macarthur, Gregory Blaxland and the Reverend Samuel Marsden. The district remained an important orcharding area throughout the 19th century.

The land on which Ryde House (now Willandra) was built was part of the emancipist John Small's 1794 grant and was acquired by James Devlin in 1828 from Thomas Small, James' step-father. James Devlin (1808-1875) was born in NSW, the son of Irish exile Arthur Devlin and his colonial-born wife Priscilla Squire. Devlin was originally a wheelwright, and later became a successful developer and contractor. James Devlin was a warden of St Anne's Church, Ryde and also a trustee for many years, and a Trustee of the Field of Mars Common, Devlin was instrumental in advocating for the proclamation of Ryde as a municipality and was one of the first Ryde aldermen in 1871. Devlin's Creek and Devlin Street are named after James Devlin. (Pollen, 1996).

About 1840 the name Ryde began to be used in the locality, with Devlin's 1841 subdivision being the earliest documented use of this name. Megan Martin has shown that the names Ryde and Turner Street were both chosen by James Devlin to honour the new Anglican Minister, Rev. George Turner, whose wife was a native of the English Ryde. Devlin and his neighbour, James Shepherd, had some 40 lots surveyed in a subdivision they named the Village of Ryde, with Devlin's 'East Ryde' facing St. Anne's Church and Shepherd's 'West Ryde' facing the road to Parramatta.

Devlin designed and began building the house now known as "Willandra" in 1841 on the old Small's farm and the Devlin family moved into the house in 1845. At that time it was called Ryde House.

ITEM HISTORY
Although there were Catholics among the first settlers, there were few priests in the Colony to minister to them prior to the arrival in 1835 of Dr John Polding, later to be constituted Sydney's first Archbishop. No records survive of Catholic services in the Ryde area prior to the 1840s, but in 1841 a public meeting was held at Parramatta "to take into consideration the propriety of erecting a Catholic church at Kissing Point", to be named for "St Theresa". Collections were taken up but plans languished, and the population continued to be served by itinerant priests residing at Parramatta. Services in the Ryde area were held in barns and private houses.

In 1847 the Marist Fathers, from France, established a base in the area at Tarban Creek, Hunters Hill, from which they could support their missionaries in Oceania. While Archbishop Polding maintained his dream of a Benedictine abbey-diocese he refused them a formal responsibility in the Ryde area, but he was content to allow them to help the priests from Parramatta in their itinerant ministry.

In 1849 plans to build a Catholic church in Ryde were revived when Daniel McMahon, a successful ex-convict, gave land for the church east of the village of Ryde, on the ridge overlooking the river. In 1849, Daniel McMahon conveyed land in the Kissing Point district to "a nominee for Archbishop Polding, Abbot Gregory VG, Rev Michael Brennan of Parramatta and Peter Casey to build a church or chapel of the Holy Catholic Religion".

In March 1851 a parish was constituted, and Dr Charles Davis, Bishop Coadjutor to Archbishop Polding, wrote to the Colonial Secretary applying for aid towards the erection of a Catholic church at Ryde, and a stipend for a minister under Governor Bourke's Church Act of 1836 which aimed to advance Christian religion and the promotion of good morals in the Colony by providing aid, without denominational discrimination, for such purposes. The application was supported by a list of 221 names. Fr Michael Brennan, the Parish Priest of Parramatta, was put forward as the priest responsible for the area. In December 1851, the foundations of the new church were set out. Several Catholics from the neighbourhood were described as attending with spades and other implements to assist Archbishop Polding, Bishop Davis, and Frs. Brennan and Hallinan. Within 3 hours the ground had been fully prepared for the mason. The Archbishop then addressed and blessed those attending. The following month, Bishop Davis celebrated Mass nearby, then laid the foundation stone for the church, proclaiming it to be under the patronage of St Joseph.

The discovery of gold near Bathurst in 1851 and the gold rushes that followed set back the building however. Labour was scarce and building expensive for some years: the Parramatta area was described as "almost depopulated". In 1854, Fr John McClennan, who had taken over the responsibility for the Ryde area, reported that the church was still in the course of construction. 120 persons were attending Divine Service in temporary accommodation provided by Mr J.K. Heydon at his property "Ermington House" at the western end of the district; congregations of 60 and 35 were meeting elsewhere in the district; and the Marist Fathers had a chapel at their base at "Villa Maria", Tarban Creek.

The property was consecrated as a cemetery in 1856, with the first burial in that year.

In 1856 Archbishop Polding was forced to give up the dream of the abbey-diocese, and he offered the care of the parish of Ryde to the Marist Fathers. Fr Jean Louis Rocher took over from Fr McClennan, and took up the task of completing the church at Ryde with zeal and energy.

St Charles Borromeo church Ryde was built to a Gothic design of 1842 attributed to English architect A.W.N. Pugin (1812-1852), significant in the Victorian Gothic revival movement. Although of 1857 vintage, at a time when Polding had been resorting to Charles Hansom designs for a decade, this church is unlike Hansom's work, and is too sophisticated for local architects that Catholic patrons were then employing. It is characteristic of Pugin's work whom Polding had commissioned for other churches in the 1940s. Following a trip to England in 1841-1842, Polding's diary of December 1842 recorded delivery of a package of drawings for church building designs from the office of architect A.W.N. Pugin. The village church design for St Charles Borromeo church at Ryde was developed from the design of St Michael’ s, Long Stanton, Cambridgeshire, the Ryde church being the one most faithful to the plan form of St Michael's.

The construction of the church was almost finished when the famous Dunbar gale, in which the ship of that name was wrecked at The Gap, forced workmen to stop and blew slates off the roof. It was reported in September 1857 that "This neat little church, situated on the Bedlam Road, and belonging to the Roman Catholic denomination, is now nearly finished - the contracts for roofing, flooring, and for the windows being almost completed, since the last account sent of this building. A belfry has been added to the western gable, 45 feet in height, which gives the building a very good appearance. In it are placed two bells." (SMH, 24 September 1857 page 2).

In November 1857 however the church was completed, when it was reported as follows:"St Charles Church - The first stone of this building was laid about five years ago, when a contract was entered into and the walls carried up about five feet, in which state it remained for nearly three years. About twelve months ago it was recommenced, and the work carried on vigorously to completion. It is a very neat building, in the Gothic style, and consists of a nave and chancel, with side aisles, and at the south-east corner, sacristy. The length of the church, including the chancel, is 58 feet; the width of the nave and side aisles, 32 feet; width of chancel 19 feet. In the east end, over the altar, is a neat window, fitted with stained glass, and at the west end a belfry. Sunday, the 8th instant, was the day fixed on for its being publicly opened for divine worship. Mass was then celebrated by the Rev. J.L. Rocher, the appointed preist of the church. There were four other preists in attendance, also the Venerable Arch-deacon McEnroe, by whom the sermon was preached.." (SMH, 14 November 1857, page 6).

St Charles was named for St Charles Borromeo, a sixteenth century Archbishop of Milan, the patron saint of Bishop Charles Davis, who had laid the foundation stone but had not lived to see the work finished.

In 1934 remodelling and enlarging of St Charles Borromeo Church, Ryde to increase its capacity from 250 to 600, was undertaken by the architects, Messrs Fowell & McConnel (Kenneth H McConnel). All but the facade and westernmost bay were demolished in 1934, the remnant subsumed into a large new aisled clerestoried church designed by Fowell & McConnel architects, The old nave columns and arches, as well as the windows, were re-cycled into the new church.

Many of the Marist Fathers, in whose care the parish was placed up until 1890, were buried in the cemetery. So too were Marist Brothers and Religious sisters. Prominent historical figures buried in the cemetery include Didier Numa Joubert and his wife (of Hunters Hill), the Collingrides, the Makinsons, the Heydons, Andrew Lenehan and others mentioned in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. There are a number of early settlers after whom streets, sub-divisions and localities have been named. There are a variety of graves of non-English migrants (Germans, Italians, Swiss, French, Irish, Scots etc.). In 1890, The Echo 'praised the good order and appearance of the cemetery". In 1947, a local historian, Levy wrote: "Dominating the graves is a large, handsome iron crucifix which was used by visitors to the cemetery. It had been a focus for devotions for over sixty years, since its erection by the French Marist Fathers in c. 1870."

The St. Charles Borromeo’s historic churchyard cemetery closed officially for public burials in 1900.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Community Development-
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. Cemeteries-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing Community-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with prominent local persons-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The church and cemetery , developed in the 1850s, are of historical significance as the focal points for the early Catholic settlers north of the Parramatta River, with St Charles the "mother church" of many current Catholic parishes. The cemetery is the last resting place of many early pioneers including Didier Numa Joubert (d. 1881, and shows the influence of the French Catholic settlers at Hunters Hill.. It surrounds the parish church, which was so significant to these pioneers and their descendants. It exhibits important evidence of the multicultural nature of the early Catholic community in the district.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The church has historical association with the local Catholic community since 1857, and with architects A.W.N. Pugin (1841 design) and Fowell & McConnel (1934).
The cemetery has many graves of early pioneers of the Ryde and Hunters Hill Districts, and provides a unique testimony to the inter-family links in the district that are not obvious elsewhere. The public cross was imported from France by the Marist Fathers, who were French themselves and were the early pastors of St. Charles Church.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The church facade is a rare example of an 1857-built 1840s Pugin-designed church façade in Australia, albiet moved by Fowell & McConnel in 1934. The church is of aesthetic significance as an amalgam of the 1857 church and a 1934 Fowell & McConnel church design.
The remaining 19th century memorials are in good condition , are attractively sited, and are a public showcase of colonial stonemasonry in the 19th. and 20th. Centuries. . The Public Cross is a unique, French influenced monument erected by the Marist Fathers c. 1870 , which is a focal point.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The church remains of social significance to the local Catholic community.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The details of the stonemasonry, inscriptions, etc. Of the cemetery contain a great deal of valuable genealogical informationl, including some not officially recorded,
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The church and cemetery are rare in the Ryde district as a mid-19th century cemetery and a church developed from 1856. The facade and westernmost bay of the church are rare examples in Australia of the 1840s design work of English Gothic revival architect A.W.N. Pugin.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The church and eemetery are representative examples of mid-19th century Catholic church development.
Integrity/Intactness: Church rebuilt 1934 incorporating 1841 elements including western façade.
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:

DOCUMENTATION:: A Heritage Impact Statement is required by Council to accompany any Development Application for non-minor work. A Conservation Management Plan for the church cemetery may be required for any major proposal. Please refer to the Churchyard Conservation Management Plan prepared in 1994 (see references) for guidelines on management of the burial ground. Preparation of a new Conservation Management Plan for both the church and burial ground is recommended (2012) to guide any major works. Please consult Council staff about your proposal and the level of documentation that will be required as early as possible in the process. Note that Council has adopted planning provisions to assist in the making of minor changes that will not have any impact on the significance of properties without the need to prepare a formal application or Heritage Impact Statement. In this case Council must be consulted in writing to confirm the nature of the works. APPROACHES TO MANAGING THE HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROPERTY: (Note: the detailed requirements for each property will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The following advice provides general principles that should be respected by all development.) Further subdivision of the land is strongly discouraged additionally the construction of additions buildings or infrastructure is further discouraged. The overall form of the church building and the layout of the cemetery should be retained and conserved and its views to the Parramatta River protected as part of its historic and spiritual association of the subject site to the River. All significant exterior fabric to the church and the cemetery monuments should be retained and conserved. The external surfaces and materials of significant facades of the church and cemetery monuments should be retained, Painted surfaces should be painted in appropriate colours. Sandstone and face brickwork should not be painted or coated. Significant door and window openings should not be enlarged or enclosed. Monuments should not be relocated. The cemetery should be conserved and monuments, significant plantings, walls, paths and other landscape elements should be retained and conserved. OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE: Very limited scope for development exists within the site due to the extent of the cemetery and the need to retain views and vistas to and from the church. In 2011 (Building Stimulus Program) and again in 2013 two new buildings have been approved and erected at the rear of the cemetery. It is considered that this site has now experienced over-development and any further buildings would significantly harm the curtilage and setting of the grounds and the church. All future CMP's for the site should discuss the limitations of any further development and how landscaping planting should ensure the views and vistas are protected towards Parramatta River.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanRyde Local Environmental Plan 2010146   
Local Environmental PlanRyde Draft Local Environmental Plan 2011I147   
Local Environmental PlanRyde Local Environmental Plan 2014I14702 Sep 14   
Local Environmental Plan - LapsedLocal Environmental Plan No. 10519017 Jan 03 14357
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Ryde Heritage Study198847Jonathan Falk Planning Consutants P/L Assoc with Rodney Jensen and Assoc P/L  No
Review of 1988 Ryde Heritage Study.2002 Hill Thalis Architecture and Urban Projects.  Yes
Ryde SHI Review Stage 12012 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1935article in Building magazine, January 1935
Written  Sydney Morning Herald, 24 September 1857 page 2
Written  Sydney Morning Herald, 14 November 1857, page 6
WrittenAngela Phippen2008Ryde suburb history, Dictionary of Sydney online
WrittenBrian Andrews artcile on Pugin foundation website2012www.puginfoundation.org -essay on St Charles Borromeo Church, Ryde, NSW
WrittenChurchyard committee1994The parish of St. Charles Borromeo: churchyard conservation and management plan stage 1 report
WrittenSt Charles Borromeo Catholic Church Ryde website - history page  

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: Local Government
Database number: 2340029


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