Aerial view of St James' Church, King Street.

St James' Church, King Street. Photograph Courtesy of St James' Church

St Jamesʼ Church Bell Tower

Focus Tour - Saturday 2 November





Francis Greenway


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

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

Designed by the colony’s first Civil Architect, Francis Greenway, St James’ Church was built by convicts between 1819 and 1824, and is today the oldest church in the City of Sydney. Until the Town Hall Clock Tower was completed in 1873, the spire of St James’ was the tallest structure in Sydney, an important city landmark and a beacon for navigating ships.

In 2003, a peal of eight bells was installed in St James’ tower. Staged repairs to both tower and spire were completed in 2010, winning a National Trust Heritage Award and the Greenway Award for Heritage Architecture in 2011.

Tour experience

Sydney Open visitors will be able to access areas not normally open to the public. Climb the tower stairs to the gallery and bell-ringing area, then ascend to the roof above the nave and bell chamber before reaching the top of the tower, where you’ll see the original timber mast supporting the spire. Along the way, learn something of St James’ extraordinary history and the people who created, adapted and now care for this heritage icon. Tour Guide Letizia Coppo-Jones was project director for St James’ conservation works from 2002 to 2016.

The tour will comprise a 15-minute ascent, 15-minute talk and 15-minute descent.


Letizia Coppo-Jones

Letizia Coppo-Jones, Principal Architect of Letizia Coppo & Associates, has over 25 years’ professional experience in the conservation and adaptive re-use of a broad range of significant heritage buildings and their settings.

From 2002 to 2015, as Senior Associate at Design 5 Architects, she designed and project-managed a staged conservation works program for St James’ Church which included the spire/tower repairs completed in 2010, the roof/masonry repairs completed in 2012, and internal painting/polishing works completed in 2015.

Letizia was the recipient of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) Cathy Donnelly Memorial Award for Outstanding Female Heritage Professional 2013.

Key information

Session duration

45 mins


This tour has a capacity of 15 people per session.

Visitor requirements

Guests must arrive 20 minutes before their tour start time, as latecomers cannot join the tour. There will be no refunds if you miss your tour.

Guests must wear comfortable, enclosed non-slip shoes

Only bring essential items, as storage is limited. St James’ Church and Sydney Living Museums take no responsibility for items lost or stolen.

Participants of this tour will be required to sign a waiver on the day; you will be able to review the waiver when making the Focus Tour booking.

Guests must be aged 18 years or older, with a good fitness level.

This tour is unsuitable for people who:

  • have difficulty climbing stairs and ladders
  • are uncomfortable with heights
  • and/or have a pre-existing medical condition that would be affected by one or both of these factors


to know

  • Photography allowed

  • Toilets available


Find out more about St James’s Church.