46-16 - Christ Church and Rectory - 35-39 Palmer Place

Christ Church and the flanking residences known as Bishop's Court (on the right of the Church) and the Rectory (to the left of the Church) form perhaps the best known and most revered group of heritage items in Adelaide.

These buildings are much older than the grand St Peters Cathedral, off Pennington Terrace, which is the centre of the Anglican diocese of Adelaide.

The integrity of the group remains high and its significance to South Australia and the City of Adelaide in particular is beyond doubt as the foremost representation of the development and consolidation of the Anglican Church in South Australia. As a whole the group is unique in extent, age, and as a record of working church buildings of the late 1840s and early 1850s.

Before we talk about the buildings, we need to say a few words about the man who more than any other was responsible for their construction.

• The man
Augustus Short was born in 1802 and lived to the age of 81, dying in 1883. This was his territory.
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The son of a barrister, he was educated at Westminster and Christ Church at Oxford in the 1820's before being ordained as a priest.
In 1845 he got the opportunity for a promotion to bishop, if he would go to the colonies. He was given the choice of either Adelaide or Newcastle. He chose Adelaide and arrived in 1847.

His vast diocese included Western Australia. At the commencement he had only eight clergy and four church buildings.

As mentioned earlier on this trail, South Australia was founded as a colony to allow or encourage “dissenters” or “non-conformists” - people not necessarily enamoured of the Anglican Church. Bishop Short was, in contrast, a man of the establishment – a “high” church man and frequently clashed sometimes with his own Anglican flock and with others in the colony – on matters of Church doctrine.

Bishop Short lived in Adelaide here in Palmer Place for 34 years. He went back to England in 1882 where he died the next year.

• The buildings
Bishop Short brought plans for these buildings from England, although reports at the time of their construction credit their design to local architects Henry Stuckey and William Weir.

The church is constructed of Adelaide limestone. The stone was quarried within the Adelaide Park Lands – in fact right behind Government House near what's now the Torrens Parade grounds.

The foundation stone of Christ Church was laid in 1848, and it was consecrated 18 months later, in December 1849, but it took another 23 years until it was completed.

The nave (i.e. the aisle for the congregation) came in 1855 – designed by Edmund Wright. The apse (ie the semicircular recess covered with a dome) came another five years later again in 1860.

This church's apse contains a combination of limestone rubble walling and sandstone dressings with brick quoins. It was finally completed in 1872 with a new boarded ceiling, porches and a turret at the crossing for ventilation.

Bishop Short used this Church as a de facto cathedral while trying to raise funds for the later construction of St Peters Cathedral.

In the 1850's he contributed 1,000 pounds for the completion of this Church.

It's one of the focal elements of Palmer Gardens and Palmer Place but because it's tucked out of the way, it's not nearly as well known in Adelaide as the much more obvious St Peters Cathedral.

There are three Victorian-era cast-iron bollards, now silver-painted, at the Christ Church end of the Gardens pathway. The bollards have been there since 1922.

Now turn the corner and view the mansion next door on your right.

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