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Sacred Heart Church, Hall And Presbytery

Heritage Listed Location


87 Grey Street And Neptune Street St Kilda, Port Phillip City, Victoria, Australia

Places Nearby

St Kilda, 3182 0.5km St Kilda West, 3182 0.9km Balaclava, 3183 1.9km Middle Park, 3206 2.2km Ripponlea, 3185 2.4km

Details / Significance

What is significant?
Designed by Reed, Henderson and Smart, the Baroque style Sacred Heart Church was built in 1884. The church was extended and the sanctuary added in 1922 to designs by the architect WP Connolly. The original Italianate campanile was also replaced by a German Baroque style tower of 36 metres with ox-bow parapet and copper dome surmounted by a statue of Christ. The church is constructed in brown face brickwork with stucco mouldings and a slate roof. The symmetrical front facade features a Tuscan order portico flanked by arch headed windows, deep buttresses and niches and blind oculi which continue around the sides. The interior has a barrel-vaulted ceiling and lunette windows in the blind arcading. The walls are decorated with stencilled and painted decoration believed to date from the 1940s and incorporating part of a decorative scheme by G & W Dean of 1901. The Carrara marble altar was built in 1909 to a Romanesque design by Kempson & Connolly. The pipe organ was built by Fincham & Son in 1909-10.

The hall and presbytery, built in 1901, were designed by W. P. Connolly of Kempson & Connolly in a style which harmonised with the church. The hall is constructed of red face brickwork on a bluestone plinth and has stucco mouldings and a slate roof. The detail of crosses at the main corners and at the top of the pediments used on the church is repeated on the facade of the hall. The red brick presbytery has arch-headed windows, terracotta ridging, finials on its slate roof and a double-storeyed, timber post and cast iron verandah. The presbytery's front fence has red brick posts and base with cast iron panel infill. The hall and former presbytery are now occupied by the Sacred Heart Mission.

How is it significant?
Sacred Heart Church, Presbytery and Hall are of architectural, aesthetic and historical significance to the state of Victoria.

Why is it significant?
Sacred Heart Church is of architectural significance as the first church built by the Roman Catholics in Victoria using an Italian Renaissance Baroque style. The church is of critical importance in Roman Catholic architectural history as it marks the shift from the Gothic Revival towards Renaissance and Baroque essays in red brick with cement dressings. It is only a year or two after important Roman Catholic churches were built in a Renaissance style in London, Paris and Dublin.

Sacred Heart Church is of aesthetic significance for the quality of its decoration and fixtures and fittings. The barrel-vaulted ceiling, nave, and sanctuary feature extensive painted and stencilled decoration and use of gold leaf reflecting the Catholic Italianate tradition of expressing holiness through a richness of ornament. The High Altar is an outstanding example of Romanesque design. The white Cararra marble is relieved by panels of Loanizzer
marble from Siena, with columns of richly veined Borenore and Fernbrook marbles from Australia. The sanctuary also contains two works of art in mosaic and a tabernacle with golden doors decorated with grapes and wheat and bordered with semi-precious stones. The side altars of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady are outstanding examples of work in marble. The marble lectern in the sanctuary and the marble altar rail are important features. The stained glass windows were the first Classical style glass to be used in Catholic churches in Victoria.

Sacred Heart Church, Presbytery and Hall are historically significant for their association with the Roman Catholic Church in Victoria. The church with its spacious barrel-vaulted nave and broad side arcading in the Italianate style allowed for bigger congregations and better views of the increasingly grand and solemn ceremonies and rituals of the expanding Catholic church of the 1880s. The rich Baroque decoration of the church symbolises the influence of Rome on the Catholic Church in Australia. The generally intact and cohesive complex built in stages reflects the development of the church until its present day role as an important welfare organisation.

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1 sacred heart church presbytery & hall st kilda church front view aug1984
sacred heart church hall & presbytery plan

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