Statement of Significance
On 15 May 1839 Patrick Geoghegan arrived in Melbourne to take up the position of priest of the newly formed parish of Port Phillip. The land on which St Francis Church stands was granted in July 1839 and shortly after the land grant was confirmed, the first mass at the site was held in a temporary chapel which had been moved to the site in June that year. St Francis Church was designed by Samuel Jackson and built between 1841 and 1845 with the foundation stone being laid on 4 October 1841, the first mass in the completed nave being held on 22 May 1842 and the completed church blessed on 23 October 1845. It became the first Catholic Cathedral in the district in 1848 following the installation of Bishop Goold, and remained the cathedral until the opening of St Patrick's Cathedral in 1869. The cedar ceiling was installed from 1850 possibly in two stages following the replacement of the original shingled roof with slate. Galleries were installed in 1853-4. The original organ, purchased at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, was removed to St Peters Toorak in 1972. The Ladye Chapel was designed by George and Schneider by competition in 1855 and was constructed in 1856-58, with decoration by Le Gould and Souter. A new sanctuary designed by Reed and Barnes was added in 1878-9. St Francis ceased to function as a parish church following its acquisition by the Blessed Sacrament Congregation. The Blessed Sacrament Congregation was formally installed at St Francis on 1 December 1929. Earlier buildings on the site dating from 1842 included a school (which occupied various buildings) and hall. These are no longer extant. The site of the presbytery is now occupied by the adjacent carpark.
How is it significant?
St Francis Catholic Church is of historical, architectural and social significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
St Francis Catholic Church is of historical significance as the earliest surviving Catholic church in Victoria, and the oldest church in Victoria on its original site. The site is also historically important as having been used and occupied by the Catholic church since 1839 with the northern part of the site having been used for the associated school. It is also of historical significance for its association with a number of prominent members of the Catholic Church including Father Geoghegan, who established the first Catholic mission in Melbourne, Dr J A Goold, the first Catholic Bishop of Melbourne, and Mary McKillop who was the first member and Superior of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Mary McKillop was the first Australian put forward for beatification and canonization in 1972, and she was baptised and confirmed at St Francis.
St Francis Catholic Church is of architectural significance as the most important surviving example of early Victorian architect Samuel Jackson's work and an outstanding example of the stuccoed Gothick which was prevalent before the Gothic revival proper. The Ladye Chapel is of architectural significance as the earliest and most intact example of scholarly Puginian Gothic design in Victoria. The stained glass by Hardman of Birmingham, and painted walls and vaults, Minton tiles, and decorated Gothic design created a thoroughly medieval atmosphere that is still largely intact. The adzed kauri pine trusses of the main church are a rare surviving element of technical interest and were the longest in Melbourne at the time of erection. They still bear the original tooling marks. The cedar ceiling is a fine and rare example of pre-goldrush craftsmanship. The large semi-circular sanctuary is the first example of the use of classical detailing by the Catholic church in Victoria.
ST FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH - HistoryAssociated People: Assoc.People FATHER GEOGHEGAN
ST FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH - Permit Exemptions
. Minor repairs and maintenance which replace like with like.
. Removal of extraneous items such as external lighting, air conditioners, pipe work, ducting, wiring, antennae, aerials, fly screens etc, and making good.
. Installation or repair of damp-proofing by either injection method or grouted pocket method.
. The process of gardening, mowing, mulching, bedding displays, removal of dead plants and trees up to 3 metres in height, disease and weed control, emergency and safety works.
. Management of trees in accordance with Australian Standard AS 4373 "Pruning of Amenity Trees".
. Installation, removal, or replacement of garden watering, fire services and water supply systems to the grounds provided they are directed away from the buildings.
. Installation of external fixtures and fittings such as taps and protective mesh
Screens to windows.
. Installation or removal of external fixtures and fittings such as: hot water services and external blinds other than in the church.
. Resurfacing of existing paving in asphalt.
. Repainting of painted surfaces in the same colour.
. Removal or installation of notice boards, rubbish bins and the like within the curtilage.
. Installation of monuments/religious objects less than 3 metres in height within the grounds.
. Removal or installation of freestanding notice boards and temporary signs promoting church-related events which are attached to the property boundary in a manner that is sensitive to historic fabric
Painting of previously painted walls and ceilings provided that preparation or painting does not remove evidence of the original paint or other decorative scheme.
Installation, removal or replacement of carpets and/or flexible floor coverings.
Installation, removal or replacement of curtain tracks, rods, blinds and other window dressings.
Installation, removal or replacement of hooks, nails and other devices for the hanging of mirrors, paintings and other wall mounted artworks.
Installation or relocation of memorial plaques and the like.
Removal or installation of black, white or pin-up boards.
Demolition or removal of non-original linings, doors, bathrooms, sanitary fixtures and fittings, lights, built-in cupboards, heaters and the like. Removal or installation of non-original door and window furniture including: hinges, locks, knob sets and sash lifts.
Refurbishment of toilets including removal, installation or replacement of sanitary fixtures and associated piping, mirrors, wall and floor finishes. Removal of wet area tiling or concrete slabs provided there is no damage to or alteration of original structure or fabric.
Installation, removal or replacement of ducted, hydronic or concealed radiant type heating provided that the installation does damage existing floors, skirtings and architraves and provided that the location of heating units is concealed from view in the church. Installation, removal or replacement of electrical wiring provided that all new wiring is fully concealed. Note: if wiring original to the place was carried in timber conduits then the conduits should remain in situ.
Installation, removal or replacement of electric clocks, public address/EWIS systems, CCTV, detectors, alarms, emergency lights, exit signs, luminaires and the like on plaster surfaces. Installation of new fire services including sprinklers, fire doors and elements affixed to plaster surfaces.
Installation of new built-in cupboards and seats providing no alteration to the structure is required.