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Media Statements : Statement Details

Richard Lewis

    St John's Anglican Church, Fremantle, given interim heritage listing

    Wednesday, 27 November 1996

    27/11/96

     

    The State Government has moved to protect the heritage values of Fremantle's historic St John's Anglican Church.

     

    Heritage Minister Richard Lewis said the site of the building had been a place of worship for Fremantle Anglicans since 1843.

     

    Mr Lewis said the impressive limestone church had been listed on the Heritage Council of Western Australia's interim register of heritage places.

     

    "St John's is a Fremantle landmark as the focal point of Kings Square, the centrepiece of the port city," he said.

     

    "It also contributes to the important precinct embracing the neighbouring Fremantle Town Hall and the historic buildings of High Street.

     

    "Sitting amongst the well-known Moreton Bay Fig Trees of Kings Square, it is a popular spot for both tourists and local residents.

     

    "As such St John's deserves the protection of the State's heritage laws."

     

    Mr Lewis said that as early as 1839, a request was made to the Governor for Kings Square to be the site of an Anglican church.

     

    In 1841 the first rector, the Reverend George King, took up duties and his parish covered some 2,300sq kms - including the locations of Murray and Canning which he covered on horseback.

     

    The first church of St John's was opened in 1843 and planning for a new church began in 1875.

     

    London architect W Smith was commissioned and it was built by J J Harwood and Son, with stone from the Government quarry in Cantonment Street.

     

    The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Hale of Perth in 1878 and the building was consecrated in July, 1882.

     

    Mr Lewis said the old St John's Church was then demolished to make way for the extension of High Street and the construction of the Fremantle Town Hall. A plan of the old church is outlined in the pavement.

     

    A substantial, limestone-walled and asbestos shingle-roofed building, St John's was originally roofed with she-oak. This was replaced with Welsh slate in 1914 and with asbestos shingles in 1975.

     

    In 1884 a new organ was installed and the bell turret was added in 1906 or early 1907.

     

    In 1923 an arrangement was made with the Fremantle Municipal Council to maintain the grounds in return for their use by the public. The church currently stands in the spacious paved and treed surrounds of one of Fremantle's most popular areas.

     

    Various other additions were made over the years and in 1979, with the centenary of the laying of the foundation stone, the restoration of the church fabric was commenced.

     

    Mr Lewis said the building was in good condition and had a high degree of integrity.

     

    "St John's is an important building as the place of worship for the Anglican congregation of Fremantle from 1843 to the present day," he said.

     

    "It is highly valued, not just by the Anglican community, but by the general public.

     

    "It is an integral part of the historic heart of Fremantle and contributes much to the local community's sense of place."

     

    Media contact : Bronwyn Hillman 222 9595, 221 1377 or 480 5125 (pgr)