By Cathy Jones (2023)
A number of Strathfield’s early residents were members of the Congregational Church. The first Congregational Church in the Strathfield district was built in 1873 at Druitt Town, an area that was located in the south west of the suburb of Strathfield.
The Strathfield-Homebush Congregational Church was built in 1883 on the corner of Albert Road and Homebush Road Strathfield as a replacement for the older Druitt Town church. The Church was designed by architect Herbert Thompson, of Eldon Chambers Pitt Street Sydney and built by John Johns, a building contractor of Woollahra.
The land on which the Church was built occupies a site on the corner of Homebush and Albert Roads with a frontage of about 150 feet to Homebush Road and 250 feet to Albert Road. The total cost of the land and building was estimated to be £2356. The building committee included Chairman – Walter S Buzacott, Treasurer – James Thompson, Secretary – Joseph Barling, John Vernon, George Hardie, Samuel Thomas Whiddon Jnr and Robert Hardie.
The Church was funded by subscriptions from parishioners and donations from benefactors such as wealthy tobacco merchant George Todman. The Church contains a plaque dedicated to Todman in the Church after his death in 1924 that states that his ‘generosity the building and opening of this church free of debt is largely due’. In his will, Todman left a sum of up to £900 to pay off debt on the Congregational Church at Homebush.
The foundation stone of the Church was laid in December 1883 by Mrs Jeffries, wife of the Rev. James Jeffries, pastor of the Pitt Street Congregational Church.
The Heritage Statement for the Church describes the building as ‘constructed of colonial brickwork with a slate roof. Pointed arch windows feature attractive leadlight windows with stone labels. Brick buttresses, stone coping and an iron entry gate with brick supports are features’.
A second Congregational Church was built in Strathfield in 1899. The Trinity Congregational Church, is located on The Boulevarde Strathfield. This Church was built by a group of parishioners who broke away from the Burwood Congregational Church, led by the Rev. Littlemore.
The second building on the Church site was built as a School Hall in 1900. The Hall’s design is attributed to the architectural firm of Slatyer & Cosh and the builder was E H Clarke of Woolwich. Charles Slatyer, the architect had strong connections to the Congregational Church and the Strathfield area. Slatyer was a son of the Rev. William Slatyer, formerly of Redfern Congregational Church. He married Elsie Todman, daughter of George Todman. Slatyer was for many years secretary of the Strathfield-Homebush Congregational Church and had been secretary of Camden Congregational College. A memorial plaque was erected at the Strathfield-Homebush Congregational Church following his death in 1919.
The Heritage Statement for the Hall describes the building as featuring “dichromatic brickwork, steeply pitched gable tiled roof with four flat roofed dormers, series of gables with render and brick finish to Albert Rd. pointed arch and semi-circular windows… original brick fence, lighting details and boundary plantings are important streetscape elements’.
The Congregational Church became part of the Uniting Church in 1977. The Church is now known as the Korean Uniting Church, Strathfield.
The Church and School Hall are heritage items on Strathfield Council’s Local Environmental Plan and were first listed in 1992.
Fox & Associates, 1986, Strathfield Heritage Study
Homebush Congregational Church, laying the foundation stone on Saturday afternoon, December 1st, 1883 … : programme of proceedings, National Library of Australia
New Congregational Church at Homebush. (1883, December 8). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912), p. 1087. Retrieved July 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162023454
NEW CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH AT HOMEBUSH. (1883, December 3). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved July 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13547497
MR. TODMAN’S CHARITY. (1924, July 8). Robertson Mail (NSW : 1924 – 1930), p. 3. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128526697
HOMEBUSH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH. (1900, December 19). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved July 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14368022
WELL-KNOWN ARCHITECT’S DEATH. (1919, June 7). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 18. Retrieved Retrieved July 10, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15842308
Hubert Cunliffe-Jones was the son Rev. Walter Cunliffe-Jones of Strathfield Homebush Congregational Church and was a famous Strathfield, Newington College and Camden College import:
Hubert Cunliffe-Jones (30 March 1905 – 3 January 1991) was an Australian-born Congregational Church minister and author, who became chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales and a professor at the University of Manchester. He was an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from the University of Edinburgh. He was born in Strathfield the son of the Reverend Walter and Maud Cunliffe-Jones. His father was minister of the Strathfield-Homebush Congregational Church. He was educated at Newington College (1917–1921) and in his final year was awarded one of three Wigram Allen Scholarships. These were presented by Sir George Wigram Allen following a special examination in March of each year, for classics, mathematics and general proficiency. In 1921, he received the scholarship in classics and Bill Morrow (later physician Sir William Morrow) received it for general proficiency. He went up to the University of Sydney in 1922 and graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in 1925. He then studied theology at Camden College, Glebe, and was ordained. In 1930 he went to England and read theology at Mansfield College at the University of Oxford. He married Maude Edith Clifton in 1933. In 1958 he was appointed Associate Principal of the Northern Congregational College in Manchester whilst lecturing at the University of Manchester. In 1966 he was made Professor, History of Doctrine, at Manchester University and from 1968 until 1973 he was Professor of Theology. Following his retirement he was professor emeritus. After his wife Maude died in 1989 he lived with Margaret, his elder daughter, at her home in Essex. He died in 1991, survived by two daughters and two sons.