History 2016

A short booklet about St Jude’s, including historical information, is also available free from the Church or Office.

The total precinct of church buildings and attached lands comprises an area of approximately 1.965 ha. and includes a
church and rectory, a verger’s residence/parish offices and hall and a large portion of the site is given over to a cemetery
and columbarium. The area was originally heavily wooded and consisted of tall timbers and low-level scrublands.

Heritage Architect, Geoff Danks (St Jude’s Conservation Report 2004)

Early history

Sydney Morning Herald, 27th May, 1861.

“… it [the church] occupies a fine position, being placed on the summit of the coastal ridge in a line with the Destitute
Children’s Asylum and a short distance from the Sydney Road (Alison Road) overlooking the sea to the east and a wide
expanse of country including Botany and the ranges of George’s River to the south. The Rev. Canon Allwood laid the
foundation stone”.

….. in 1854 Simeon Pearce, was granted land in Avoca Street, included in which was the site of the present St. Jude’s
Church and precinct, for the erection of a school, church and parsonage. In 1857 a church-school, the original St. Jude’s,
was erected on the corner of Avoca Street and Alison Road where the present Randwick Post Office stands. Church
services were held in Pearce’s residence, “Blenheim”‘ until the completion of the first church, and it was the express wish
of three trustees to the land grant–Simeon Pearce, S. Hebblethwaite, and W. B. Holdsworth–that a larger, more imposing
church should be erected when funds were available and the population justified it.

The foundation stone of the present St. Jude’s Church was laid on the 25th May 1861 by Canon Allwood, the then Rector
of St. James Church, King Street, Sydney. Construction commenced using funds made available from the will of one
Frederick Jones who had died in Melbourne on 14th October 1856. A portion of the will had provided for the building of
“…. a neat Episcopalian Church at Big Coogee…”. Frustrated by legal argument and two court cases to establish whether
the new church was being erected at Big Coogee in accordance with the will, or at a place called, by Pearce, “Randwick’”,
the building was completed as far as it was intended to be. It opened on 29th June 1865.

Pearce witnessed a number of tumultuous happenings in the Municipality after its incorporation, not the least of which
was that surrounding the formation of the St. Jude’s Cemetery and the secession movement for Coogee. However, by
1888, the Borough of Randwick and many of its personalities had mellowed. Simeon Pearce, himself resigned from the
Council in 1884 after suffering a stroke, and died in 1886. He is buried in the St. Jude’s Cemetery. His son F.W.H. Pearce
replaced him on the Council and was mayor on two occasions in 1894 and 1895.

The Site

The site of the St. Jude’s precinct was originally a portion of a grant issued to Captain Francis Marsh, an officer of Her
Majesty’s 80th Regiment of Foot, in 1824, being a portion of 12 acres offered, “as part liquidation of a remission of £200
allowed to him as a Captain in the Regiment.”

The area selected was east of the racecourse bounded at the present day by Botany and High Streets, and Alison and
Belmore Roads. In 1846, Captain Marsh sold his grant of land to George Hooper, a market gardener, and Hooper erected
a building or hut upon it. A portion of the land was put under cultivation. Hooper also possessed extensive holdings
adjoining what is now Queen’s Park and had erected a stone house, which still stands in Gilderthorpe Avenue.

Simeon Pearce’s first interest in the area was the purchase of four acres for the sum of £20 on 21st September 1847,
being part of Marsh’s grant from George Hooper. He subsequently sought from, and thereafter granted by, the
Government in 1854 a block of land in Avoca Street, abutting that previously purchased. Included in this land is the
present site of the St. Jude’s Church and precinct.

The church

The church is a large Victorian Gothic church building, constructed of stone quarried locally. Over a period of time the
building has been sympathetically added to and the tower raised. The original church, probably designed by Simeon
Pearce himself, and built between the years 1861 and 1865 represents a basic reproduction of the parish church of St.
John. Randwick, Gloucestershire, England, being a landmark well known to Pearce.

In 1888, Mr. H. M. Robinson, Architect, was asked to add two transepts to blend with the existing building, and the
original chancel was extended to form a new chancel/sanctuary and provision for an organ chamber. The work was
completed in six months and dedicated on 21st September 1889 at a cost of £2,800. The extensions are most
sympathetic to the original building. The tower, rising to a height of 22.77 metres was extended in 1877 for the purpose of
housing a chiming clock. The tower also has an excellent peal of eight bells, originally hung in the tower in 1872 and
renewed and rehung in 2001.


In 1921, E. Boissier designed the vestries to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of the Church. The building consists of
solid masonry walls, preformed stone arches, traceried windows and keystones to and about doors and window openings.
It is a solid structure with engaged buttresses. Decorative stringcourses and the transept divide the tower and chancel
ends are gabled with continuous stone copings.

The roof is slate and is in reasonable condition with ventilating ridges and copper gutters and downpipes. Flashings to
and about parapets and at tower are lead and require repointing and/or replacement. The stonework is generally in good
condition. Generally, the stonework is clean and white in colour.

The North porch

The North porch was reconstructed and restored in 1997 and there is a further need to undertake restoration and
conservation work to the tower. Further restoration work to the lower portions of the tower and the east wall of the Vestry,
was undertaken in 2002/2003.


The traceried windows are one of the most magnificent aspects of the church and are generally in a good state of
preservation. The great west window in particular is most notable Windows are in memory of such people as Bishop
Barker, Archbishop Saumerez Smith, Simeon Pearce, George Kiss, Lady Charlotte Mary See, Canon Cakebread, Rev.
O.V. Abrams and the Vickers family, amongst others.

The church interior, organ and fittings

Internally the building is quite magnificent. Stone arches rise above simple block capital stone piers and the whole is
bathed in the warm light of stained glass. The roof of stained timber is supported on graceful trusses, the ends of which
sit upon stone corbeled “saddle” blocks. Everywhere there is a sense of harmony, proportion and restraint. Building
materials are mainly sandstone and timber, although marble has been used in the sanctuary. The interior is quite well

The organ was ordered from Mr Walker of Tottenham Road, London in May 1865 and delivered to Sydney in October
1866 in 1904. It was dismantled and rebuilt, enlarged and improved by Sydney organ builder, Mr Richardson. In 1965 the
organ was restored, and a remote console installed by the Australian office of Messrs. Hill, Norman and Beard of London,
at a cost of £8,500. Many of the original pipes remain in the organ.

Edmund Blacket designed the internal fittings and fitments and was associated with some latter aspects of the building.
The lychgate at the street frontage and directly opposite the main entrance of the church was constructed in 1922 and is
a very simple and neat structure, very sympathetic with its surroundings, being built into, and part of, the main stone walls.
The lychgate and wall were given by Edwin Fieldhouse and restored 2011

The Rectory

The Rectory is a spacious Victorian colonial residence constructed in 1870, plans being commenced in 1866. The
building consists of a two storied main structure with a single storey side wing, the lounge to the north, added at a later
date a single storeyed service area to the rear. The building incorporates a cellar.

The building has been constructed using solid stone walls, preformed arches and openings and keystones.
Repairs have been undertaken to the building including internal painting, stonework to front walls and paving to the porch
area. In addition, sub-soil drainage has been laid to the north side of the building in recent years.

Recently the Staircase has been restored, new kitchen, bathroom, floorboards and ceilings restored.

The Parish Centre

The present Parish Centre built in 1862, to a design by Thomas Rowe at a cost of £700 was originally used as the
Randwick Council Chamber and offices, the Council having met up to this time in a room in the Destitute Children’s Asylum. The building was purchased by the Church of England in 1895. A new Town Hall and offices was built in 1881 at a cost of £2,080.

The Centre is a simple two storied stone structure, being two rooms and hallway wide, with a ground floor approximately
twice as deep as the first floor. It is a somewhat classical ‘fairy-tale-type’ building, having a copper sheeted central cupola
of what could be regarded as a first floor “widow’s walk”, with long narrow double-hung windows, centered on the main
elevation in pairs. It is a most unusual and highly decorative mid-Victorian public building.

The first floor has one large room, originally the Randwick Council Chamber, with a most interesting and delicate roof
form and a small servery at the half landing off the stairs.

The building consists of solid stone walls, in some instances up to 500 mm thick, core filled, squared ashlar masonry, with
exposed coarse rough-hewn articulated quoins. The jerkin-headed slate roof is punctuated by the central octagonal tower
over the entrance and roof with a segmental domed roof and spirelet. A deep string course divides the facade in half. The
keystones in the arched central openings are decorated with carved faces and further interest is given by carved panels
in the tower walls. The external walls were painted and the roof is slate.

General repairs and restoration works were undertaken to the external facades of the building in 1982 with the assistance
of a Heritage Council Grant. This work included the complete rebuilding of chimneys, repairs to slate roof, new gutters
and downpipes and some external painting, together with repairs to window frames, sashes, and joinery.

The external walls had been painted, but this has been removed, exposing the nature of finished golden sandstone. The
roof is slate.

As part of a grant from the 1988 Bi-centennial fund, the building was restored and greatly improved, being rededicated by
the Hon. the Rev Niall Morrison from Randwick in Gloucestershire.

The Parish Hall (Child Care Centre)

Little is known of the Parish Hall, except that it was constructed in 1899 and initially served as the St. Jude’s Day School.
It is a large cumbersome building, constructed of red brick and having a slate roof and timber joinery. Whilst the
proportions are large, consideration has been taken in the design to produce a structure relating in some way to the
adjoining precinct. In this respect, walls are constructed with shaped brick buttresses, similar to those evident at the
church. Windows are tall and lancet shaped, again to relate in some wav to those on the church. The east elevation to
Avoca Street has a somewhat Byzantine appearance, with semi-circular windows and openings, stone pilasters and
string courses, and heavy wrought iron grille to the front entry.

Coping courses are stone and/or cement render, and stonework have been used to accentuate certain elements in the

The building comprises a large trussed roof with high level east and west gable ends. The ceiling of the main hall is
stained timber boarded and the whole is executed in a most decorative manner. The east end is divided into three lower
level structures, each being entry, kitchen and storeroom and these smaller buildings add scale to the massive structure.
In 2007 the Hall was completely redeveloped as a Child Care Centre, together with a new Parish Room linked to the
Parish Centre and the Car Park redeveloped.

The property now also includes three staff town houses facing the Avenue completed in 2000.

Scouts’ Australian Milestone

In the mid-thirties a 4cwt replica of an old Cotswold Milestone was quarried from Minchinhampton Common and sent
13,000 miles to Australia.

The milestone reads: “XXIX milestone to the 1st Randwick, NSW, greetings from Stroud and Tetbury Boy Scouts,
Gloucestershire, 13,000 miles” and was a gift from the Scouts of Stroud and Tetbury to the Scouts of Randwick, NS. The
stone owes its origin directly to the village of Randwick in the Stroud district and to one of the village’s sons, Simeon
Pearce, in particular. Descendants of the Pearce family still live in the Stroud area.

Because there was no scout troop at Randwick at the time, the Stroud district undertook the 1937 enterprise. It began
one Saturday afternoon with a trek cart haul of the Minchinhampton stone from the old Crane Quarry, long since filled in,
and from which the stone used to build Randwick Church had come, to the Art Memorial Company in Stroud who carved
the inscription.

After being put on display in the town the milestone was loaded on to a rail truck at Stroud Great Western Railway Station
for London and given free passage to Sydney by Peninsula and Oriental SS Co., and eventually erected in the grounds of
St Jude’s Church, Randwick, where it still stands.

- Ron Ringer 2016