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George Sydney Jones

Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter George Sydney Jones [part 1] September 2004 page 1
Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter
Vol.27 No.9 September 2004
Author: Cathy Jones
© Cathy Jones 2004
Strathfield architecture of George Sydney Jones [part 1]
Architect George Sydney Jones [1868-1927] was a prominent Sydney based architect in the late 19th
and early 20th century. He was the grandson of retailer David Jones and son of Dr Phillip Sydney Jones.
George spent his youth and early adult years in Strathfield, notably in his father’s residence ‘Llandilo’ The
Boulevarde Strathfield [now Trinity Grammar Preparatory School]. He was educated in architecture in
London, qualifying for the diploma of Associate in the Royal Institute of British Architects [ARIBA] in 1890.
Upon returning to Australia in 1891 and started his own architectural practice. He was elected a Fellow
of the NSW Institute 1896-1901, Editor of Art & Architecture 1909-1912 and President of the NSW
Institute of Architects [1912-1914 & 1920-21]. He is also credited for organising the first conference of
Australian architects in 1901. As he wrote frequently on architecture and was editor of Art & Architecture
[1909-1912], his views had considerable influence on other architects of this period.
George Sydney Jones designed private residences, churches, warehouses and hospitals and his work
strongly incorporates his views that building and architecture should incorporate sound health practices,
such integration of buildings with natural surroundings and access to open air and ventilation. These views
were no doubt influenced by his father, a renowned physician. Hamann [1979] notes that Jones
developed a social theory of architecture and saw ‘architecture as a means of developing and shaping
public morality’. Jones was an Australian nationalist, who advanced theories that architecture must reflect
its own culture.
Though he is better known for his designs on Sydney’s North Shore, where he spent most of his adult life,
many of his early work was in Strathfield, including: ‘Trinity Congregational Church’ [1889],
‘Springfort’ [1894], ‘Darenth’[1895], ’Bickley’ [1894], ‘Treghre’ [1899], and ‘Luleo’ [1912]. ‘Bickley’ and
‘Treaghre’ have been demolished. ‘Springfort’, ‘Darenth’, ‘Trinity Congregational Church’ and ‘Luleo’ are
still recognisably in-tact. With the exception of ‘Springfort’ and ‘Luleo’, all properties were built for or
financed by members of the Jones family. Though it appears that ‘Luleo’ was a private commission, it was
built on land jointly owned by Sir Phillip Sydney Jones and his brother-in-law, stockbroker TJ Thompson.
This newsletters discuss the history of the buildings designed by George Sydney Jones in Strathfield.
Darenth and Trinity Congregational Church
‘Darenth’ 32 Albyn Rd Strathfield and the Trinity Congregational Church, corner The Boulevarde and
Morwick St Strathfield, are discussed in tandem as their histories are interdependent. Darenth was built
as the private residence for the Rev. George Littlemore, the first rector of the Trinity Congregational
Church, both properties were designed by George Sydney Jones.
‘Darenth’ was designed in 1895 by George Sydney Jones for the Reverend George Littlemore, Minister
of the Strathfield Trinity Congregational Church, as his private residence. The building financed and
owned by his father Dr Phillip Sydney Jones, a close friend of Phillip Sydney Jones. Littlemore was the
occupant of ‘Darenth’ until his death in 1929.
Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter George Sydney Jones [part 1] September 2004 page 2
Sir Phillip Sydney Jones [1836-1918] was the son of retailer David Jones. He was born in Sydney, hence
the inclusion of his birthplace as his middle name. Incidentally, all David Jones’s children were given
distinctive middle names eg Sydney Jones, Lloyd Jones, Mander Jones, but they are not doubled barreled
surnames, which is often assumed. Phillip Sydney Jones was educated at the University College London.
He returned to Sydney in 1861 and commenced his practice in College St Sydney. He was appointed
honorary surgeon to the Sydney Hospital and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, also acting as an examiner in
medicine at the University of Sydney. He was particularly noted for his work with tuberculosis,
establishing the Queen Victoria Homes for Consumptives at King’s Tableland in Wentworth Falls and a
similar home in Thirlmere. He was knighted for his work in 1905. He served on several Royal
Commissions and was President of the NSW Medical Board. He served as vice-chancellor of Sydney
University [1904-1906].
Sir Phillip Sydney Jones was considered the most eminent of Strathfield’s early residents, building
‘Llandilo’ The Boulevarde Strathfield [c.1878]. He advocated improving public health measures by
establishing homes in open and clean air environments away from overcrowded cities, believing this
caused the spread infectious and deadly diseases such as consumption. He was the first physician to
establish residence in the suburbs outside of Sydney city. In Oasis in the West [1985], Michael Jones
states that Dr Phillip Sydney Jones ‘helped make Strathfield respectable for professional men rather than
just an area in which newly wealthy merchants and real estate agents could flaunt their wealth’. Other
members of the Jones family, including his brother-in-law stockbroker Thomas Thompson, who lived on the
adjoining ‘Malvern’ estate on The Boulevarde moved to Strathfield. Many members of the Jones family
lived in Strathfield until the 1930’s. Though of frail health, Phillip Sydney Jones lived until the age of 82
and died in 1918 at ‘Llandilo’.
The Jones family were devout members of the Congregational Church. David Jones was a foundation
member of the Camden Congregational College at Newtown and Phillip Sydney Jones also served on the
College Council. Phillip Sydney Jones was a deeply religious man, marrying the daughter of the Rev.
George Charter. The Rev. George Littlemore immigrated to Australia from England and was appointed
minister of the Burwood Congregational Church, of which the Jones family were members. After a split in
the Burwood Congregation, Jones and his brother-in-law stockbroker Thomas James Thompson [1830-
1917] partly financed the building of a new Congregational Church in Strathfield on the corner of
Morwick St and The Boulevarde Strathfield. The Church was designed in 1889 in an honorary capacity
by George Sydney Jones and his cousin architect Harry Thompson on corner of Morwick St and The
Boulevarde Strathfield. The Trinity Congregational Church was gazetted on the State Heritage Register
in 2003.
In the manuscript of the Thompson Story [1962], Margaret Hay describes the split in the Burwood
Congregational Church and establishment of the Trinity Congregational Church in Strathfield:
‘It was early in 1889 that Thomas James’ son Harry, now a fully fledged architect collaborated with
George Sydney Jones, both honorary architects to design the beautiful little two-coloured brick Trinity
Congregational Church at Strathfield. Its building was the result of a split among the worshippers at the
Burwood Congregational Church. Harold [Thompson] in a letter mentioned ‘the greatest excitement in our
circle now is the unfortunate row at Burwood Church – half the members want to get the parson to resign
but the other are determined he shall not leave.’ Eventually the Rev. George Littlemore much beloved by
at least half the congregation left Burwood to become the minister at the new Church.
Further information on the establishment of the Trinity Congregational Church is detailed in SDHS
Newsletter January 1987 taken from the Congregational Year Book of 1977:
Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter George Sydney Jones [part 1] September 2004 page 3
‘Trinity Church arose from a division of theological opinion within the Burwood Congregational
Church. On Sunday May 5 1889 a number of church members, together with the Rev. George
Littlemore, Burwood’s former pastor, met for worship in the Burwood School of Arts and
subsequently 48 persons enrolled as members of what is now known as Trinity Church.
Development occurred rapidly with the purchase of a block of land on the corner of The
Boulevarde and Morwick Street. The foundation stone of the present building was laid on
November 2 1889 and the Church was dedicated on January 26 1890, the preachers being Rev.
George Littlemore and the Principal of Camden College, the Rev. J G Frazer.
Rev. Littlemore ministered to Trinity Church members and children for 34 years. He combined
great learning with, for that time, advanced theological ideas and marked power to convey the
Christian message. The fellowship had 77 members by the mid-1890’s and several vigorous
organisations were established, including a Sunday school, Foreign Missions and Hospital Visitation
groups and Dorcas Society.’
Conrad Hamann provides a description of the Trinity Church in Architecture Australia [1979]:
‘The small cottage-like scale of the church [though in fact it is a moderately large building] links it
to the arts and crafts churches then appearing in England. Jones placed an arcaded veranda
across the west front, thus acknowledging Australia’s climate. Jones used polychrome brick to
outline particular elements, such as arches. This gave the church a link with traditional ‘cottage’
vernacular. Jones grouped the three west windows under a keel moulding, which rises to the gable
in a way that resembles the churches of Wilson or J D Sedding in England.’
Members of the Jones family, who are related to the Strathfield Thompson, Wilshire, Weekes, Ross and
Nott families, comprise the majority of church members on the Foundation list of the Trinity Congregational
Church in April 1890. Another name of note appearing on this list is James Inglis, founder of ‘Billy Tea’.
Inglis lived at ‘Crago’ on The Boulevarde and was a member of the NSW Parliament.
Edward Lloyd Jones, brother of Phillip Sydney Jones and Chairman of David Jones & Co, was also a
member of the Trinity Congregational Church. He was among the twelve fatalities in a horrific rail
accident at Redfern 1894, when a train from Strathfield to the City was hit head-on with a train bound
for Goulburn. This is considered one of Sydney’s worst rail accidents. The funeral was held at Trinity
Congregational Church. A copy of the funeral sermon by Rev. Littlemore is held at the National Library
of Australia. The contents of this Sermon attest to the close relationship between George Littlemore and
the Jones family.
‘Darenth’ is listed as a Heritage Item on Strathfield Council LEP and as an indicative place on the Register
of National Estate. It has been classified by the National Trust and is an item on the Royal Australian
Institute of Architects [RAIA] List of Significant Twentieth Century Buildings. An description of its heritage
significance appears on the Register of the National Estate, with bibliography citing Fox & Associates,
Strathfield Heritage Study, 1986.
‘Darenth’ is a single storey house of face brick in stretcher bond, tuck pointed and colour washed.
The roof of unglazed Marseille tiles is broken into a number of hipped and gabled forms, and
there is a prominent corner tower with a tall pyramidal roof of flat terra cotta shingles. The front
verandah has turned timber posts and timber brackets. The architectural style is mainly Federation
period Arts and Crafts style, shown in features such as the long runs of roof and exposed eaves;
the use of timber shingles for fascias and over the entrance porch; the variety of window shapes
including bulls eye and horseshoe; and the tones of face brick and tiles using decorative moulded
Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter George Sydney Jones [part 1] September 2004 page 4
bricks for string courses and hood moulds. At the same time there are a number of unconventional
features including the split level plan, banded brick chimneys and curious corner brick buttresses
which extend above the eaves line to form square topped pilasters, a typical Federation Free
style motif. There are unsympathetic modern openings in the front wall. A mature front garden
conceals the house from the street. There is a brick and timber picket front fence. The rear garden
has been altered to accommodate and elevated patio and swimming pool.
Fox & Associates, Strathfield Heritage Study, Strathfield Council, 1986.
Garrett, John, ‘Sir Phillip Sydney Jones’, Australian Dictionary of Biography 1851-1890 Vol.4, Douglas
Pike [ed], Melbourne University Press, 1972.
Hannan, Conrad, ‘Forgotten Reformer: the architecture of George Sydney Jones 1865-1927’, Architecture
Australia, Oct/Nov, page 40, 1979
Hay, M Dalrymple, The Thompson Story, 1962 [unpublished manuscript National Library of Australia].
Jones, Michael, Oasis in the West, Allen & Unwin, 1985
Kemp, C ‘Architects of Flat-roofed houses in the early 20th century Sydney’, Essay for Master of the Built
Environment [Conservation], UNSW, 1994.
Kennedy, Reg, ‘Trinity [Congregational] Church Strathfield’, Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter,
Vol.9 No.5, January 1987.
Littlemore, George, In Memoriam Edward Lloyd Jones and Harry Berry, S T Leigh & Co Printers Sydney,
Pearce, Ken, Australian Railway Disasters, IPL Books Australia, 1994.
‘Sir Phillip Sydney Jones Dead – Useful Medical Career Ended’, Daily Telegraph, 19 September 1918,
Strathfield Municipal Council rates and valuations records.
‘Thomas James Thompson’, Sydney Stockbrokers, p371-373.