Introduction

Recently formed, the purpose of the St Mark’s Historical Society (SMHS) is to preserve and celebrate the achievements of our church as a source of inspiration and encouragement to the development of modern Australian society.  Since its foundation as a Chapel of Ease in October 1847, St Mark’s has always held a key role as a sacred place of worship and a source of philanthropy and benevolence as Sydney and the nation have developed.  Men of noble intent and their families have humbly gathered here to give thanks to God and to provide leadership to the community, serving through the grace of Jesus Christ and seeking to show God’s love in action.   

Activities

The SMHS is intended to inform future generations of the exceptional role our church played in shaping modern Australian society.  We intend to conduct many and varied activities, including:

  • Hosting public events featuring our own historians and guest lecturers talking on subjects of historical importance.
  • Establishing St Mark’s as a significant Historical Site along the lines of Sydney Living Museums, where the church will be regularly open to visitors for a briefing on St Mark’s and early Sydney Life.  These talks will be focused on social, economic and political developments directly influenced by parishioners of St Mark’s and will be held periodically.
  • Aligning with Woollahra Library to permanently record personal historical records, photos, items of significance, etc., relating to the parish and the municipality.
  • Establishing St Mark’s as a key part of a community of local historians recognizing, accurately recording, and celebrating the role of evangelical Christianity in the development of modern Australia.
  • Establishing a valuable reference library and resource centre.   

For more details, please contact us at history@stmarksdp.org 

Getting involved

We are seeking to preserve important elements of Darling Point’s history for posterity and we invite you to share your old photos, letters, household history and personal stories, etc. with the rest of the community.  We calculate that over 10,000 weddings have been celebrated at St Mark’s so there must be plenty of great stories to share.

St Mark’s has two magnificent written histories of the church that read like the social history of Australia.  To celebrate and commemorate our role in society we are inviting all interested parties to share their knowledge and experiences of St Mark’s and what it means to them in the broader social context. 

If you can help, or have suggestions on how you would like the SMHS to evolve, please contact us at history@stmarksdp.org

For more information about St Mark’s history, click here.

Resources

St Mark’s is blessed by two magnificent history books which have commemorated both the 100th and 150th year of our history. 

  • The first was by Canon William Barder, called Wherein Thine Honour Dwells; Canon Barder was Rector at the time of the centenary.  It is very helpful in providing information not generally available to the public.
  • The second is an outstanding scholarly work by Susan Mary Withycombe, called Honourable Engagement. The SMHS has been entrusted with the source notes and some recordings of Susan Mary’s fine work. 
  • Other important documents include:
    • A resource called Capt. Watson’s Scrapbook which has been used by both authors, but which has been misplaced. 
    • A small booklet on St Mark’s called A guide to the church and its windows which was been prepared by Dr Ross Hayes in 1994. 
    • The private work of Dr Diane Speed who has been an important servant of the parish and assisted greatly in recent publications.  Dr Speed is responsible for the “Our Buildings” section below.  We understand she is planning a further significant work pertaining to the windows, to be published in the near future.

Additional information and material relating to St Mark’s is available from the Woollahra Library, the State Library of NSW and the National Library of Australia and the Anglican Church Diocese Archives. 

A further pool of knowledge is also available in family records and unpublished photos, documents and oral histories available within the large number of people with whom St Mark’s has held a special place. 

Please contact us at history@smdp.org.au if you have personal records or family history materials, photos, paintings, etc., that you would like to share; so that we can record them for posterity.  We would love to hear from you!

For more information about St Mark’s history, click here

Structure

The SMHS is curated by Ian Tresise, Honorary Historian, supported by other enthusiastic volunteers. The Historian is appointed by the Rector and is responsible for the curation, preservation and publication of all materials relevant to the history of the evangelical mission of our church. 

If you would like to volunteer to help us establish our collection and plan future events, please contact us at history@smdp.org.au

Mysteries:  Do you know the answer?

Mysteries start to appear over time. Given St Mark’s history, spanning over 170 years, it is not surprising that there are puzzle pieces missing.   Can you help us solve these mysteries?  Do you know the real story?

  1. Capt. Watson had a “scrapbook” which told of many early buildings, activities and customs.  Does anybody know where it is presently?
  2. John Croft, Esq. was an early benefactor of St Mark’s and a church warden.  He was a business partner of Thomas Whistler Smith and a member of the Twofold Bay Pastoral Company with TS Mort, R & E Tooth and the Mannings.  Very little is known apart from that information. Could you help?  
  3. Window 13 is dedicated to the memory of Caroline Elizabeth Chisholm. The window refers to a date of birth as April 1846, and date of death of 17 February 1910.  However, the famous Caroline Chisholm; one of the most outstanding, but very few women, to be recognised in the early history of Sydney; was born on 30 May 1808 and died on 25 March 1877. So, who is the Caroline Chisolm recognized in our window?   

If you can help us with any of these questions, click here.