St John's Church Camden
Considering selling land for development
|St Johns Church at the end of John Street on the hill above the village in 1890s reflecting its Englishness across the countryside. C Kerry (Camden Images)
St John's Church is Camden's most important heritage icon. It is disappointing to hear that church authorities want to sell off some of their site.
The church site, including the Rectory, is part of the foundational story of the township of Camden and its District. The church has played a fundamental role in place making and building community identity over the past 150 years or more. St John’s Church is the moral and emotional heart of the Camden township.
The church is an integral part of the story of the Macarthur family. The church is still, as was in the past, part of the historic vista from Camden Park house to the Camden village. There are representations of the church in engravings dating from Andrew Garran’s Picturesque Atlas of Australasia (1886).
The church is part of the England landscape aesthetics that was so evident during the Interwar period in the Camden township. Writers like William Hardy Wilson, Ure Smith, Eldrid Dyer and others have written in lyrical fashion about the importance of the church to the Englishness of the Camden village.
The NSW State Heritage Inventory states:
The church is set within a fine group of other ecclesiastical buildings that includes the Rectory (1859) and church hall (1906), together with the cemetery in a rural landscaped environment resplendent in native and exotic mature trees, fence lines, paths and memorials.
Central to the town plan was the siting of the church of St John's as the Sydney Herald of 14 February 1840 noted that 'on the greatest elevation of the adjacent hills it is proposed to erect a church, the situation for which will be highly picturesque and commanding'. By the time ofthe sale of the town allotments, the church was under construction and was the main feature of the incipient township prominently sited on the highest point overlooking the principal street, John Street.
At the same time as clearing land for the new township in 1835, James and William Macarthur appealed to their neighbours and employees for help in founding a church (Anglican). By September 1835, 644 pounds had been collected, with the majority (500 pounds) coming from the Macarthurs.
The church and the rectory are a legacy from the 19th century Camden gentry and other members of the community who funded its original construction. It is very easy to destroy the integrity of the church precinct along Menangle Road, which has remained intact from the church’s foundation.
about St Johns Church and its precinct on the Australian Heritage Database:
There are a number of stories appearing the local press and other material.
- ‘Unique’ land a real estate dream, Camden Narellan Advertiser online 9/12/16
- Land sale could pave way for new church building, Camden Narellan Advertiser Online 8/12/16
- Parishioner ‘dismayed’ at potential sale, Camden Narellan Advertiser Online 9/12/16
- St John’s Anglican Church in Camden will look to sell off vacant land to fund a new church building, Macarthur Chronicle Camden Online 8/12/16
- St John's Church Camden
- Leaving a legacy or a liability? St Johns Church Camden
- St John’s Church Precinct Sale: community alert, Camden Residents Action Group Online
St Peter's Anglican Church, Campbelltown
It sobering to thing about what has happened adjacent to St Peter's Anglican Church at Campbelltown. Land next to the church was sold off by the NSW State Government for development in September 2015. The land is zoned for up to 10 storey tower block which would overshadow the St Peter's Anglican Primary School next door. Read more on this development here and here