Oldest Building in Melbourne

The St James’ Old Cathedral just has to be on your list of places to visit when you’re in Melbourne.


It’s not particularly attractive from the outside although it does have an unusual shaped belltower............

...............and it’s fairly plain on the inside but it’s classified by the National Trust to be the oldest building in Melbourne............

..............Now that's a claim I’d thought would be shouted from the rooftops...........

.............. as all the other churches I’ve seen in Melbourne seem to claim to be the oldest this, that or the other!...........

.............like the first to have had a service on the land..............


...............or the first service in a tent or first service within a small wooden hut!!............


..............But when it really matters, barely a mention!!...........


.............There’s nothing about it in the Melbourne Visitors Centre or in the Old Cathedral's website or on the Visitors Guide leaflet at the church either at the time of writing this................


................What they do have is a laminated copy of a newspaper cutting sitting on a table by the visitors book telling the story about it being the oldest building in Melbourne!!...........


..............They don’t even have a sign outside saying when the building is open for viewing let alone a sign saying it’s the oldest building in Melbourne!.........

.............I turned up not knowing what a significant building it was at about 9.30am one morning and as there was no sign and the doors were closed I thought access was only on a Sunday during service times (as there is a sign about that!)..............

...............So I left none the wiser about it's significance in the scheme of Melbourne's history.

Luckily for me though...........

...............(and you too as you're reading this!!!!)............

...............I happened to pass by again at the end of the day, saw the doors open and found out that they love getting visitors there!!...........


.........Well, it won’t be hard to get people turning up in their thousands if you ask me - Just put a leaflet in the Melbourne Visitors Centre with the message ‘Oldest Building in Melbourne’ and they will flock to it like moths round a candle!!...........

............But now I’ve told you about it, get here quickly before it’s advertised properly and gets too busy!



Janette Wells the Parish Secretary showed me round and told me a lot about the history of the Old Cathedral (it was a Cathedral until 1891 when the newly built St Paul’s Cathedral became the Cathedral and St James’ was relegated to parish church status). You can tell she loves the building and it's history but watch out because she's a pom too!

There’s a small museum in the back of the church with historical documents etc including books with the names of the pioneer men and women of Victoria. This room is opened on request.

One bit I particularly liked was the fact that one of the pew seats had had part of the bookrest removed so that a City Councillor could squeeze his portly body inside - made it bring a bit of history to life for me!


St James' Old Cathedral is open from 10am-4pm Mon, Tues, Wed and Friday and from 2pm-5pm on Thursdays.

It’s located at 2 Batman Street, West Melbourne right next to Flagstaff Gardens. Just as an aside – the name Batman comes from the founder of Melbourne, not the Movie!



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