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St James Church 3
St James Church 3

Photographs supplied by Peter F Williams / Russell Byers / John Huth

The plaque commemorates the architect of St James Church, Francis Greenway (1777 - 1837), and the artisans and labourers who erected it. 

In 1817 Franicis Greenway began St Matthew`s Church, Windsor, probably his masterpiece. Later it suffered depressing alterations, but its large bulk of beautiful brick-work still compels admiration with its commanding position on rising ground overlooking the wide valley of the Hawkesbury River. St Luke`s Church, Liverpool, was begun in 1818. The first builder, Nathaniel Lucas, died soon after the foundations were finished and James Smith took over the work. Although Greenway tactlessly quarrelled with each builder, and the building was later grossly mutilated and fell into disrepair, the quality of his design is still apparent.

His third church, St James`s, in King Street, Sydney, has also suffered from alteration and repair, but it was his most classical design and ranks among the finer Georgian buildings of its date. The difference between St Luke`s designed for a rural setting and the metropolitan St James`s is most marked and demonstrates the sense of the appropriate that distinguishes all Greenway`s work.

The Rev. Dr. P. A. Micklem, before he left for England yesterday, unveiled a memorial to Francis Greenway, architect of St. James's Church. Dr. Micklem said that it was interesting to remember that the idea of erecting some memorial to Francis Greenway was partly prompted by the remarks of none other than Mr. Egon Kisch, who came to Australia some time ago. Mr. Kisch said that St. James's Church was the most beautiful thing he had seen in Oceania. Dr. Micklem said that it had been found that the usual type of memorial to an architect was a simple inscription. This custom had been followed in the Greenway memorial. Mr. B. J. Waterhouse, president of the Board of Architects, said that Greenway laid the foundation of good architecture in Australia. "His buildings have been, and will continue to be, an inspiration to architects who understand and are responsive to the essentials of fine architecture," he said. "I sincerely hope that the custodians of this church will jealously guard the fabric against inappropriate restoration, and strenuously support the desire of many citizens that very soon the congeries of structures surrounding the church will disappear and leave on this island site only Greenway's masterpiece."

Mr. K. R. Cramp, president of the Royal Australian Historical Society, said that Greenway's buildings "had stood the test of time, and he hoped that they would stand the test of politicians." "We can afford to forget some details about Greenway, including the fact that he was a convict," Mr. Cramp said. "There are possibly some here to-day who are guilty of as great misdemeanours as those for which some convicts were sent out here. Many people think that the convicts were sent out by those who should have been sent out themselves." The memorial reads: "In memory of Francis Greenway, architect of this church, and of the artisans and labourers who erected it."
Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), 14 May 1937. 


Address:173 King Street, St James Church. North Portico-exterior, Sydney, 2000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.869486
Long: 151.211172
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 13th May, 1937
Front Inscription

In memory of Francis Greenway

Architect of this Chruch and of the artisans and labourers who erected it.


Source: SJ,MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au