Backlit stained glass windows framed by arches.

St James’ Church, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Photo © Warren Trevelyan-Jones for St James' Church

St James’ Church

Sunday 3 November 2019

173 King Street, Sydney

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Francis Greenway, first Civil Architect


2011 National Trust - Heritage Award (Spire/Tower conversion)

2011 AIA (NSW) - Greenway Award for Heritage Architecture (Conservation)

Consecrated by the Reverend Samuel Marsden in 1824, St James’ Church is the oldest surviving church building in the City of Sydney, with services held here continuously for 195 years. From October 2019 until February 2024, St James’ celebrates its Bicentenary with many events planned to mark the occasion.

Part of the historic precinct on Macquarie Street, and facing Hyde Park Barracks, St James’ was designed by the colony’s first Civil Architect, Francis Greenway. It was originally intended as a courthouse, until the newly arrived Commissioner John Bigge insisted on its conversion to a church; Greenway then added a steeple to the western end.

Of more civic than ecclesiastical proportions, St James’ has a sandstone base and brickwork facade supporting a gabled slate roof. Its steeple, although today surrounded by skyscrapers, was once a ridge-top landmark, guiding ships safely into the harbour.

The Georgian exterior remains, and although the interior has been modified over time, many fine elements can still be appreciated, including the marble memorials and a striking piece of contemporary stained glass framing wall in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

St James’ also hosts hidden treasures that few Sydneysiders would know about. The crypt beneath the church, one of the city’s most enchanting subterranean spaces, houses the Children’s Chapel with its low barrel-vaulted ceiling. Here the 1929 murals by the Turramurra Painters reinterpret the popular Christmas carol ‘I saw three ships’ in a Sydney Harbour setting, a scene of pure childhood fantasy.

  • Interior photograph of the Children's Chapel at St James' Church.

On Sunday 3 November

What’s open?

1pm–4pm: Church, including the Chapel of the Holy Spirit

12pm–4pm: Crypt, including the Children’s Chapel

Talks, tours & more


The Choir of St James’ in rehearsal

30 mins


Church History Q&A with Geoff Taylor

15 mins


Bell-ringing with Marylon Coates

15 mins


Organ talk and demonstration

30 mins


Children’s Chapel talk with Christopher Waterhouse & Charlotte Wiltshire

15 mins


Church History Q&A with Geoff Taylor

15 mins


Bell-ringing with Marylon Coates

Members of the public are welcome to attend St James’ morning services:

• 7.45am – Said Eucharist

• 9.00am – Sung Eucharist

• 11am – Choral Eucharist

to know

  • Photography allowed

  • Lines expected

  • Toilets available

  • Pram friendly

  • Accessible

Opening hours


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173 King Street, Sydney


Find out more about St James' Church.