Sydney Architecture Images- Sydney University

St. John's College


William Wardell


10 Missenden Road, Camperdown




Victorian Academic Gothic




Education Halls of Residence
  The original plan for St John's College, designed in 1859 by Mr Wardell, but not fully realised when the college was built in the 1860s for financial reasons, image, The Catholic Press, 1 September 1927, National Library of Australia.
  The Act to Incorporate St John's College as a College within the University of Sydney was assented to by the Governor-General on 15 December 1857, and the College of Saint John the Evangelist was founded on 1 July 1858 with the proclamation of the St John's College Act in the Parliament of New South Wales. Its founder, Archbishop Polding, named it after the author of the fourth Gospel.

Its first two students, in 1861, were:

Patrick Joseph Healey (1843-1895) who graduated BA in 1863 and MA in 1877 from the University of Sydney. He was a barrister and became the Senior Crown Prosecutor NSW, and served on the Council as a Fellow from 1868-81.
William Charles Browne (1942-1916), who became a pastoralist and grazier after University, with large holdings in the Singleton district. He was member of the NSW Legislative Assembly, representing Patrick’s Plains.

Dr John Forrest was the first Rector (1860 - 1874) and the College was officially opened on 7 April 1875.

Women residents were first admitted to the College in 2000.

Today the College provides accommodation for 268 male and female students.
  In February 1859, William Wardell, the architect of St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, and St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, was appointed the architect for St John's College. Working from Melbourne, he drew up the general plans and sent them to Sydney in May 1859. Wardell designed St John's College as a three-storeyed sandstone Gothic Revival building on an H-shaped plan but because of budget restrictions with a limit of 30,000 pounds, July and August saw discussion of Wardell's design and of how much could be built within the budget. In September and October the general plans were approved by the St John's Council and the university senate.
From October 1859 to April 1860, relations between Wardell and the council deteriorated for various reasons, resulting in Wardell's resignation in June 1860. With the main building program already in progress, the council retained Wardell's plans and proceeded with the construction under the supervision of Edmund Blacket, another of Australia's best-known colonial architects, who had finished construction of the first stage of St Paul's College at the same university the previous year. When Blacket was appointed to supervise the construction of St John's, several changes were made to Wardell's specification: Australian hardwood was substituted for pitch pine, bar trusses were used in the chapel, a fountain was dropped from the plans, common rather than fire bricks were used, Portland stone was substituted by Colonel stone, and ornamental pillars were incorporated into the design of the library. Blacket estimated that these and other changes would save ₤1,689, leaving the amended quote at ₤35,754 pounds. When the college was finally occupied, the cost of construction for the first stage was ₤40,000.