Darlinghurst Excavation and Monitoring


Darlinghurst, NSW
2016 - 2019


In 2016, Cosmos Archaeology was tasked with creating a statement of heritage significance for the potential archaeological resource at a property on Darlinghurst Road, Sydney, which was set to be developed into a 5-storey residential care facility.

In the mid-1800s, the site was home to the St. John’s Parochial School, an important local institution for over a century. The site of the former school is listed on the State Heritage Register as St. John’s Anglican Church and Rectory. Our original assessment found that any archaeological remains of St. John’s Parochial School would be significant as they are associated with the first Anglican Church and very likely the first school in Darlinghurst and in the wider Parish of Alexandria. Any archaeological remains could provide rare insights into denominational schooling practices, particularly towards the second half of the 19th century.

An archaeological assessment was then undertaken to assess the potential impact of the building development on the archaeological remains of the site. This assessment found that there was potential for the presence of archaeological remains associated with both the first St. John’s Parochial School, and the second school, which was built on the same site in 1903.

From November 2017 to March 2018, our team of archaeologists undertook an excavation and monitoring program of the St. John’s Parochial School, to record all archaeological remains within the construction site pre-dating the building of a petrol station in 1966. The emphasis of the archaeological recording was on the construction and functioning of the successive St. John’s Parochial Schools. The archaeological excavation found and documented the remains of the sandstone footings of the first St. John’s Parochial School, built in 1851, including the 1880s extensions, and the subsequent St. John’s Parochial School from 1903. Underfloor deposits associated with either school were absent, however, in the demolition layers of both school buildings, education-related artefacts such as pencil leads and writing slates were found.

At the project’s conclusion, Cosmos Archaeology assisted will the design of interpretive information panels. These are now erected at the site, to increase public awareness about the location’s rich history.


Anne Gordon Design Pty Ltd