Victorian Sydney


Statue of Queen Victoria, opposite Hyde Park


The reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) marked a period of extraordinary development and change for Sydney and for New South Wales. In the early years of this era, Sydney was declared a city, New South Wales was granted self-government and convict transportation had ceased. It was in the final decades of the Victorian age that the natural landscape of Sydney came under major attack from developers, which would change forever the face of the city.  My favourite style of this period is `Victorian Gothic’, an extension of Gothick architecture, revived in the late Victorian era.  These buildings stand today, next to modern designed structures.  Here are some of my favourites:

Situated in The Rocks, St Patrick’s Church is the oldest Catholic Church in Sydney. It was the second church to be built in Sydney after St Mary’s church, which burnt to the ground. St Patrick’s Church opened in March 1844.

St Patrick’s Church circa 1901. State Archives NSW


SPC Today
The Church today- surrounded by modern buildings.


Richmond Villa was built in 1849 for Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis as his private residence.  Originally built behind Parliament House near the Domain, the house was dismantled and rebuilt stone by stone at its present site in 1976 to make way for Parliament House extensions.


Richmond Villa, Kent Street.


Built in 1869, the Redfern Mortuary Terminal was operational until 1938 as a railway station from Central Rookwood Cemetery.  Trains would depart daily to take mourners and the corpse to its final resting place. By 1927 the cost of the trip was approximately 4 Shillings (40c)- the dead would travel for free.


Mortuary Terminal circa 1871. State Library 1871


The Terminal today


And finally, my favourite example of Victorian design – The Abbey, situated in Johnston Street Annandale was built in 1882 by John Young. The house was originally built to impress his wife and to entice her back to Sydney from the UK.  She did not return and the family never lived in the home.  Among its many features, the house contains a `gothic vault’ and a tower decorated with gargoyles.  Young was a builder on St Mary’s Cathedral and it is rumoured that he had stolen the gargoyles from the Cathedral for his home.  The Abbey is also said to be haunted.

The Abbey, circa 1880’s.



Tower Gargoyles


The Abbey today







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