Grosvenor Street Heritage Walk


On 1st October 1800, prior to his being sworn in as the new Governor, Captain Philip Gidley King laid the foundation stone of what was to become the first St Philip's Church on the ridge to the west of Sydney Cove that became known as Church Hill. The road that led to the top of Church Hill from the infant colony on Sydney Gove was to become Grosvenor Street. The street was originally named Charlotte Square by Gov. Macquarie in 1810. The name honours Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of King George III. The name was changed to Charlotte Place in 1835. The first Government windmill was erected at the top of the hill near the present day intersection of Grosvenor and Cumberland Streets. The site was later to become that of the Grosvenor Hotel, after which the street was re-named in 1889. Following a small stream downhill, the street was always spacious, being once lined by a row of dilapidated middle class houses. After the gold rush it became a prestigious business address.
  • The Churches of Church Hill



  • St. Phillip's Church and the Church Hill windmill

    Church Hill windmill
    The most dominant image on the skyline of Sydney at the beginning of the 19th century was a giant windmill erected by Nathaniel Lucas, a First Fleet convict. Lucas was a master carpenter, a rare commodity in the young colony and his ancestors have reason to believe that, being a skilled tradesman, he was "needed" to help establish the colony, so goods were planted in his lodgings and he was convicted of theft and transported to Norfolk Island. In 1804, Governor King invited him to return to Sydney to erect a windmill for the Government on a site on Church Hill near the present day intersection of Grosvenor and Cumberland Streets; and on completion of that he was permitted to erect another mill for himself in the Government Domain (approximately where the Shakespeare Memorial stands near the State Library of NSW). These two windmills were prefabricated on Norfolk Island and shipped to Sydney on Matthew Flinders' ship, HMS Investigator.

    Described as smock mills, they were of the unusual post type, which had never been built in the colony before. The upper unit, holding the propellers rotated on a post with their direction being determined by sails placed like rudders. Previous mills were fixed after calculating the best position according to the wind. Each mill had two millstones that were manufactured in Norfolk Island, and were described as 'superior in point of durability to any that can be produced here'. The mill on Church Hill took six weeks to erect and became operational around the end of June 1805.



    Lang Park
    Lang Park is a triangular gardens bounded by York, Grosvenor and Lang Streets, Sydney. The hill on which Lang Park is situated was bounded by Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian churches and thus became known as Church Hill. The first of the churches was the original St Phillip's Anglican Church which occupied a portion of what is now Lang Park. The earliest form of park development occurred during the early years of the twentieth century possibly associated with the construction of an electricity substation in 1904. The substation was removed in 1931 and other improvements and additions followed including a men s convenience in 1942. In 1975 the site was listed by the National Trust.

    The park is named after Dr John Dunmore Lang who arrived in Sydney in 1823, the first ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church. He remained minister for 52 years until his death in 1878 and built the first Scots Church opposite. He was one of the most outspoken men in Australian public life. He edited a newspaper, the Colonist , wrote many pamphlets, was elected a member of parliament, was constantly active in encouraging the immigration of Scottish and German artisans and farmers to Australia, took a leading part in effecting the separation of Victoria and of Queensland from New South Wales, and persistently advocated an Australian republic and Australian independence from Britain.



    Lang Street
    Lang Street may well be deemed the oldest street in Sydney, as it is the only surviving street from the first map of Sydney, drawn by German born Augustus Alt in July 1788. Alt had been selected before the first fleet sailed in 1787 as the colony's first Surveyor General. Upon arrival, he was given the task by Gov. Arthur Phillip of laying out what would become Sydney. Alt's plan dated July 1788 and drawn by his assigned assistant, Lieutenant William Dawes, incorporated a town centre set in a grid pattern on the western hillside above where the tank stream entered the cove. Dawes nominated the top of the ridge behind Sydney Cove as Church Hill because it was here that Sydney's first church (St. Phillip's Church) was to be built. The street Dawes drew leading to it from the cove became known as Church Street. In 1894 it was renamed Wentworth Street after an early colonial family who lived there. Today it is known as Lang Street.

    As a planned, surveyed street, it even pre-dates George Street which came into existence by default rather than design; George Street did not appear on maps of Sydney until a year later. Interestly, Alt marked what became Lang Street as the principal street of the new settlement. He envisaged the street would lead down to the waters of Sydney Cove at a point diagonally opposite what we today know as Bennelong Point where the Sydney Opera House now stands. Had Alt's plan been followed, when you looked along Sydney's main street towards the harbour today, you'd be looking straight at the Sydney Opera House across the waters of Sydney Cove. Wouldn't that have been something!
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    • St Patrick's Church
      Cnr Harrington Street (1844). The home of William Davis, who was convicted and transported to Australia for his part in the Irish uprising of 1798, was located opposite St Phillip's Church of England on Church Hill and became a centre for Catholic prayer before the church was built. At a time when Catholicism was not officially recognised in New South Wales, a request was made for a grant of land for a Catholic church but only a grant of money was forthcoming. Davis and his wife donated some of their land for the erection of what was to be St Patrick's Church. The laying of the foundation stone took place on 25 August 1840, after a procession from St Mary's Cathedral. Bishop Polding, as he then was, preached while standing on the foundation stone itself in order to be seen and heard by the immense crowd. The building proceeded under architect John Frederick Hilly, using adapted plans from an English model. Polding performed the opening ceremony on 17 March 1844. Davis had died the previous year.



      Royal Navy House
      1890 - 32 Grosvenor Street, Sydney. The land that Royal Naval house stands on was once part of the western limit of the first Parade Ground of the Colony. Royal Naval House, together with Federation Hall=, Johnson's Building, 231 George Street and Brooklyn Hotel comprise an interesting and architecturally significant Federation era streetscape. The pattern of development of the site demonstrates the increasing density of the city, altering the colonial Georgian character of Charlotte Place. Externally the north side of Grosvenor Street still largely retains its Victorian and Edwardian streetscape, the survival of which is due to the resumption of the area in 1900.

      Designed by architect Varney Parkes in the Queen Anne Revival Style, Royal Navy House originally was one of a number of substantial facilities built in The Rocks to cater for sailors on shore leave, including the Mariner's Church and the Sailor's Home, which continue to contribute to the character of the area today. Unlike the majority of naval facilities in Sydney Harbour it was not built on one of the harbour islands or on the foreshore. The generous stair (now relocated) provides evidence of the high standard of accommodation provided throughout Royal Naval House. Royal Navy House was added to by the Government Architect W L Vernon in 1907 and modified to become a naval hostel. For nearly a century, it provided accommodation for British and subsequently Australian armed forces as well as visiting navies, including returned servicemen and from World War II onwards, service women. It played a role repatration efforts at the end of World War II, with record numbers of sailors accommodated there.



      Suncorp Place
      1982-5 - 18 Jamison, Cnr. Lang and Grosvenor Streets, Sydney.
      One of Sydney's landmark office towers formerly known as the AAPT Centre, it was built as the head office of Qantas, which had outgrown its building in Chifley Square. The Centre is used for commercial offices and is 182m tall, is 42 levels high, to the roof, although the rooftop structure brings the total height to 193m. Architects: Joseland & Gilling.



      Grosvenor Place
      1988-92 - Grosvenor Place, Harrington Street, Sydney
      Built at a cost of $350 million, Grosvenor Place was designed by Harry Seidler, a highly respected Sydney based architect with a deeply held commitment to modern architecture. Grosvenor Place, along with other Seidler projects such as Australia Square (1967), MLC Centre (1975) and the Blues Point apartment tower have had a major impact on the Sydney landscape.
      Being on the "doorway" between Sydney and The Rocks, the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority exercised considerable control over the design of Grosvenor Place. It restricted the height to 176m above sea level so that it formed part of a stepping envelope between the Qantas building and the Regent Hotel, and required the site to be a pedestrian gateway to The Rocks; a diagonal walkway was incorporated into the design to allow through foot traffic from George to Harrington Street. With 44 aboveground levels, a three storey lobby and 4 basement levels, the floor plan consists of two crescents, offset but with a common axis on each side of a sharp ended elliptical service core. The shape was chosen as it offers the full sweep of the best views and open space outlook and offered opportunities for a long span, column free system of construction.


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