Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

St Stephen's Iron Church Presbyterian Church

architect

Pre-fab

location

Macquarie Street

date

Built (Glasgow)- 1855   Demolished- 1875

style

Victorian Free Gothic

construction

Pre-fabricated steel church

type

Church
Summary St Stephen’s predecessor was an iron Presbyterian Church (was first a Presbyterian Church, then the Lending Branch of the Public Library (the forerunner of the Sydney Municipal Library. It was also a tweed cloth factory for a while before being a library.), and later was removed piece by piece and re-erected at Lidcombe, where it was in use for more than 40 years) which stood where the new wing of the State Library now  stands. It was replaced in 1879 by a St Stephens in Phillip Street, in turn demolished when Martin Place was extended in the early 1930s.
Above- the iron St Stephen Presbyterian Church on Macquarie Street being demolished, showing the new wing of the hospital in the background.
Above- the iron St Stephen Presbyterian Church in its heyday on Macquarie Street.
 
Sydney's Iron Church Now A Chapel

A Place In History

IN the grounds of the State Hospital and Home at Lidcombe is a building, now used as a chapel and recreation hall, which was once the historic Iron Church. It stood in Macquarie Street, Sydney, on the site of the Parliament House bowling green. This unusual building was first a Presbyterian Church, then the Lending Branch of the Public Library (the forerunner of the Sydney Municipal Library), and later was removed piece by piece and re-erected at Lidcombe, where it has been in use for more than 40 years. Dr. John Dunmore Lang's Scots Church on Church Hill was, of course, the first Presbyterian Church in Sydney, and was demolished when the Harbour Bridge and city railway were being built.



The Iron Church had a strange beginning, for although the congregation was ready to go on with the erection of a church on a block of land in Macquarie Street for £2,000, the cost and scarcity of skilled labour in Sydney made building impossible. The exodus to the goldrushes had left Sydney practically denuded of labour, and it was, therefore, decided to send to Scotland for an iron building to seat 800 people. The Iron Church arrived in many pieces, and was erected in Macquarie Street in(1855. It was used as a Presbyterian Church for 20 years.

The State Government acquired the building when it planned the erection of a new Parliament House. That scheme was abandoned, however, and the Iron Church building became the Lending Branch of the Public Library. Twenty four years later it was taken down and re-erected at Lidcombe. The present St. Stephen's Church in Macquarie Street is the third Presbyterian Church of that name in Sydney, and stands on the site of the historic Burdekin House. G. A. King. The "Iron Church" after it became the lending branch of the Public Library. It is now a chapel and recreation hall at Lidcombe.

SMH 31 May 1953



Above-
Re-erection of the Iron Church / Free Public Library lending branch as a chapel at Rookwood Asylum / Lidcombe Hospital]

Several other iron churches came to Melbourne for use on the gold fields. One of these in its iron crates was shipped to Sydney where it was erected in Macquarie Street. This was St Stephens Presbyterian Church, built in Glasgow in 1855. During the Gold Rush era the congregation imported this prefabricated Iron Church, seating 800, which was erected in 1855 on the State Library site next to Parliament House. It was here that the name St Stephen’s was taken – the Westminster Parliament having met in St Stephen’s Chapel London from 1543 to 1834. Today a brass plaque in the footpath marks the spot.
 
 
Above- in its bucolic location at Rookwood (I can't find any info regarding its ultimate fate. Chapel Road is still there, but the building has disappeared).
 
History of St Stephen's

This congregation began in 1842 when 22 communicants left Scots Church during the ministry of John Dunmore Lang. That small fellowship first met in a hall in Macquarie Place. In 1846 it moved to the Wesleyan Chapel in Macquarie Street (opposite the Mint) and in 1848 to the Independent Chapel in Pitt Street adjoining the Sydney School of Arts.



Above-
St Stephen's Iron Church, Macquarie Street (1855 - 1875)

During the Gold Rush the congregation imported a prefabricated Iron Church, seating 800, which was erected in 1855 on the State Library site next to Parliament House. It was here that the name St Stephen's was taken - the Westminster Parliament having met in St Stephen's Chapel from 1543 to 1834.

In 1875 St Stephen's joined with another congregation in Phillip Street and became a leading centre of Presbyterianism in this country. The NSW General Assembly met in St Stephen's, Phillip Street when it first convened in 1901.



Above-
St Stephen's, Phillip Street (1875 - 1935)

The Sydney City Council resumed the Phillip Street Church (sited partially under the north west corner of the present Reserve Bank) to extend Martin Place through to Macquarie Street. In 1935 St Stephen's dedicated the fine, newly built Church which stands on its present position opposite the nationally treasured public buildings of Macquarie Street.




Above- The present St. Stephen's Church in Macquarie Street is the third Presbyterian Church of that name in Sydney, and stands on the site of the historic Burdekin House.

 

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links

http://www.ssms.org.au/history.html
 
http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/st_stephens_presbyterian_church_macquarie_street
 
http://webjournals.ac.edu.au/journals/EB/local-church-histories-presbyterian/st-stephens-macquarie-street-sydney-a-centenary-me/
 
http://www.sydneyorgan.com/StStephens.html
 
http://www.gordonmoyes.com/2010/05/21/st-stephens-church-macquarie-street-sydney/
 
http://investigator.records.nsw.gov.au/entity.aspx?path=%5Cagency%5C1999