There has been a worshipping community at St John's Darlinghurst since 1849. The first building on site was a parish school, which was used as a place of worship on Sundays while the church was being built. St John's has a long history of worshipping Jesus and blessing our community. On this page you will find some images of what that looked like in times past. If you have any information on any of these photos, we would love to receive it. Go to the 'Contact Us' page and send us a message. We'd be very grateful!
This is a fascinating paper, which appeared in The Paddington Society magazine, on the Aboriginal history of the Darlinghurst-Paddington area. If you find the print hard to read, click on the link below to find it in the 'Other Resources' page of the St John's website.
This is a painting of the view from the Craigend estate looking west towards Sydney. It gives you a European view of what the topography of the Darlinghurst ridge looked like in 1845. By George Edwards Peacock. From the collection of the State Library of New South Wales [a140025 / DL 15] (Dixson Library).
The Dunbar was a ship that was wrecked at The Gap at Watsons Bay in 1857. All but one of the 122 passengers and crew were drowned. The Dunbar was one of a number of large sailing ships that began trading to Australia as a result of the gold rush. On the night of 20 August 1857, the ship approached the entrance to Sydney Harbour from the south, but heavy rain and a strong gale made navigation difficult. The ship's captain, James Green, either believed he had already passed the harbour's southern headland or mistook the Gap for the entrance to Sydney Harbour. The ship smashed onto the rocks and broke up. Crew member James Johnson was thrown against the cliffs from the impetus of the collision and managed to scramble to safety, however he remained undiscovered for two days. The remainder of the passengers and crew were drowned. The text of the memorial reads: "Sacred to the memory of Ida aged 18, Charles Alfred aged 11, Arthur P aged 9. The beloved children of Charles and Mary Logan who perished in the ship 'Dunbar' wrecked at Sydney Heads on the night of 20th August 1857. They were lovely and pleasant in their lives and in their death they were not divided. 2nd Book of Samuel, 1st Chap. 23rd Verse.
The area around St John's used to be known as Windmill Hill. It stands on a ridge which often gets strong breezes from the harbour. There were a number of mills to grind grain, located around current day Surrey St.
The Church was built in a number of stages. The building to the left of the church in this photo was the original building on the site. It was the School/Hall. While the church was being built, the congregation met in the hall. Then the Church was built in several stages. Note that the steeple has not been added at this stage. The original church was designed by the architects Hill and Goulding.
The extensions to St John's Church were designed by Edmund Blacket, who is responsible for many of Sydney's sandstone churches, and many of it's civic buildings. Below is a paper written by Dr. Donald H. Kirkham, on the history of the construction of St John's. If you find it hard to read, click on the link below to find it in the 'Other Resources' section of the St John's website.
This is a really interesting photo, for a few reasons. Firstly, it's from Victoria St, and most shots are taken from Darlinghurst Rd. And you will notice it's before the spire was added. And it's one of the earliest photos taken of St John's.
Looking east from Woolloomooloo, the St John's spire can be clearly seen in the centre of the picture.
Darlinghurst was originally a very posh area, filled with large estates. This is the view of St John's from 'Craigend', which was located around current day Craigend St.
There was a toll gate at Rushcutters Bay, visible in one of these photos. You get a sense of the topography of the area, looking east. The spire of St John's is clearly visible on the ridge.
These images show St John's with the steeple added, so they are probably from the 1890's. The first one is from the Josef Lebovic collection.
This was also found when we did some renovation works in the Rectory. We think it's from around 1900. On the map, Boundary St runs down from Oxford St to Liverpool St, and then stops. It was extended down to McLaughlin St in about 1915, so the map must be from before that time. Note the tram shed and 'bus stable' on either side of Bayswater Rd. What is now Craigend St is called 'Woolcott St' on the map.
This is an image from the Josef Lebovic collection. Click on the link below to see it as a postcard (courtesy of the National Museum of Australia).
This is the garden is of a house called Ellerslie which belonged to Sir Charles Clubbe. He was a well known Sydney paediatrician. His daughter Nancy married a Mr Fitzhardinge, they had two children one of whom died when he was 6 years old. The other Jim Fitzhardinge was born about 1920 and is the grandfather of Roger Fitzhardinge, currently the Rector of Fairy Meadow. Nancy married Mr Fitz in St. John's we think somewhere about 1915. We think this might have been taken around the First World War.
How easy was it to park on Darlinghurst Rd. in the 1920's! Note the palm tree in the Rectory garden.
Great close up view of the South Transept Entrance. Note the grass, and the hydrangeas planted right up against the church. This kind of planting looks great but is frowned upon by the experts now because it allows access for damp. We think this photo first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, but we don't know why. Courtesy National Library of Australia.
This photo is titled 'Barcom Avenue 1930-1940'. St John's is clearly seen in the background. What do you think is being constructed on Barcom Ave?
This is the 'Whitney-Friend' wedding, 23 July 1934. It was obviously a very big deal! St John's was a 'society' church in those days. Notice the canopy and the spectators. These photos were taken by the iconic Australian photographer Sam Hood. Courtesy of the State Library of NSW.
This was held at 'Wirran' at Bellevue Hill. And it was very wet! Photos by Sam Hood, Courtesy of the State Library of NSW.
From the Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday July 24 1934, about the Whitney-Friend wedding. "Against the old stone pillars of St John's Darlinghurst, yesterday afternoon, great clusters of arum lilies, tinted to a shade of soft pink and tied with apple green ribbons, reflected the subdued lighting of the church and created a delightful decorative scheme ..." This is definitely worth a read! And it made the Mudgee Guardian as well! Courtesy National Library of Australia.
This is a magnificent shot of the Church in the 1930's, with a great view of the grounds around the church. So grassy!
This one is from 1937. If you know anything about these people, let us know! Photos courtesy of the State Library of NSW.
St John's used to produce a monthly newsletter which went out to members of the parish. Here are three examples: one from the 1920's, one from the 1930's and one from the 1940's.
To be honest, we have no idea what these photos are about! Who is this guy? Why is he wearing a bow-tie and a lab-coat? We think this is at the back of the Hall, and we think it's in 1938. Has he just cut down a tree (hence the tree stump in the background?) If you can decipher this one, let us know!
These shots are just extraordinary! They must have been shot from a plane, an incredible thing to do to take pictures of a church from the air in the 1940's. We don't really know why these were taken or who took them. If you know anything about them, we'd love to know.
The Honour Board commemorates parishioners of St John's who fought in the First and Second World Wars. Click on the link below for more information, on the NSW War Memorials Site.
This taken from the corner of Darlinghurst Rd and Burton St, from what was then Darlinghurst Gaol. You can see the Jewish Museum, and the St John's spire in the background. On the right, workmen seem to be digging up the road next to Green Park. Below is another image of the church from the 1940's.
Note the gates, which are no longer there. The service station was constructed in the early 1960's, so this must have been taken prior to that.
Notice the SCEGGS girls in the bottom right hand corner. SCEGGs boarders used to attend the St John's morning service. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
One of the earliest shots that we have of the inside of St John's, perhaps from the late 1950's? The sanctuary doesn't look all that much different from today. But note the flags, and that the lectern and prayer desk have now swapped sides. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
Another image of the inside of St John's. (The previous image may have been taken at the same time). The quote is from Genesis 28:17, where Jacob is in Bethel and God speaks to him. The implication being that God speaks to his people at St John's. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
This one is an interesting view of what St John's would have looked like from Darlinghurst Rd before the petrol station was built. Note the School Hall to the left of the church. Some interesting looking cars as well! Is the one on the right an FJ Holden? Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
Moreton was rector of St John's in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
Tudno Rees was catechist (or as we would say now, student minister) under Moreton. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
A service of thanksgiving for the Battle of the Coral Sea. Many of Archie Moreton's special services involved the military. ('C.E.B.S' is the Church of England Boys Society). Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
This was a very special service. The Governor of NSW visited St John's for a service 'to welcome migrants to our country'. We think that the Governor was Eric Woodward, who was in office from 1957 to 1965. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
The man in the middle is Rev. Archie Moreton, who was rector at St John's in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Moreton was known as 'Anniversary Archie'! Sunday morning services at St John's were often 'special events', which aimed at reaching different segments of the community. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
Another of the special services at St John's. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
John Stott was one of the great evangelical theologians of the 20th century. He preached at St John's at the evening service on June 29 (not sure what year! Do you know?) Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
From the Parish Paper. Graham's historic evangelistic meetings in Sydney were held in April 1959. St John's was very involved in these meetings. This was probably the Christmas either before or after Graham's visit. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
Isn't this one great? This image probably appeared in an edition of the Parish Paper, during Archie Moreton's time. Courtesy Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
This looks like it's a Sunday School class in the St John's Hall, possibly in the 1950's. If you recognise anyone in this shot, let us know! The image below is of the hall, which was demolished in the early 1960's to make way for the Caltex service station that was constructed on the site.
From the early 1960's we suspect. Do you know any of these people? Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
Cedric Emmanuel was an artist who drew many iconic drawing of Sydney buildings in the 1960's and 1970's. He is famous for the series that he did of Paddington terraces. This one, in his characteristic style, is dated in the 1960's, we believe. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archives in the Moore College Library.
In 1960 St John's had a very vibrant and active Overseas Fellowship. Do you know the names of any of these people? Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
We think this image might be from the 1960's. If you compare it to the image from the 1930's, you will notice some subtle changes. It looks like petrol station has been constructed, because the site looks different to the north (on the left hand side of the photo). The trees seem to have grown, and there are power lines down Darlinghurst Rd. Note the truck in the bottom right hand corner. The close up image seems to be from about the same time. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Collection in the Moore College Library.
A sweet drawing of St John's. We don't know who did this. We guess it's from the 1960's. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
Great aerial shot of east Sydney. Not sure where it's taken from, but you can see William St. running through the middle of the shot. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
This is an artist's impression of what was eventually constructed as St John's hall. Check out the space age car! The hall was built as part of the same project as the construction of the Caltex petrol station, which was located next to the church to the north. Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
This is another artist's impression of the hall, so it probably comes from the early 1960's. We did some extensive renovations to the Rectory in 2015, and this was found at the back of a cupboard that got pulled out! It looks reasonably close to what was eventually constructed. The photos below are obviously from the same time, and you can see the fundraising campaign that Archie Moreton organised to fund the project.
This is a fascinating image! It is the construction of the St John's Hall. Note the pier construction technique, and the buildings along Victoria St in the background. The hall was constructed as part of a deal with Caltex, who demolished the parish hall, built the petrol station, and built the hall as part of the deal. The hall is in the area that was previously the Rectory garden. The hall was opened in 1965, and it is still very intensively used!
This one looks pretty '60's! Anyone remember 'Power House'? What exactly was it? Courtesy of the Samuel Marsden Archive in the Moore College Library.
This is a great shot, taken by T. Taylor, in 2006. Many images of St John's are from Darlinghurst Rd, which is actually the front of the church. But this one is from Victoria St looking south. It shows what the site looked like when the Star Car Wash was there.
In 2014, photographer Liana Taylor did a photographic study of St John's. Her images are really gorgeous!
In 2014, St John's received a grant from the Community Building Partnership Grant scheme, through the NSW government. We repaved and landscaped the area. This shows the construction process.
In 2016, St John's partnered with HammondCare to submit a Development Application to construct an aged care facility for homeless people with high care needs. This is a shot of Stephen Judd, HammondCare CEO, which appeared in The Australian in March 2015.
In preparation for getting on site, HammondCare took these photos. They were taken using a drone.
These photos were taken by David from 'We Are Origami Photography'. They are some of the most beautiful ever taken of St John's. They were taken on April 29 2017. Enjoy! And you can connect with David through the Facebook link below.
This was a fun wedding! And the photos really show the church in a great light. David from We Are Origami Photography did the photos, Coco managed the floral arrangements, which were extraordinary. If you want to contact her, click on the link.