Angel of Knowledge

On completion of the Great Hall, a two metre statue which came to be known as the ‘Angel of Knowledge’ was placed on top of the eastern gable. The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), 13 July 1859 describes it as follows:

The gable at the eastern end of the hall is surmounted by a fine statue seven feet high – that of an angel, beautifully designed and cut in stone, representing Christian philosophy, standing in an attitude of benediction. This figure rests upon a well carved pedestal, the base of which terminates in a nondescript monster, or gargoyle, stretching over a small ventilating orifice of an ornamental and appropriate character…

In 1874, the Senate asked Blacket to report on the condition of the roof, where the pinnacles and the angel were in poor repair and in danger of toppling over. Although the architect advised that the angel need not be removed, on the 17 June 1874, the SMH reported:

The stone statute of the Angel of Knowledge has been very judiciously deposed from its windy perch at the eastern gable, where its weight, position and very insufficient fastenings have long endangered the whole eastern front.

(Stained Glass and Stone by Bertha McKenzie, University of Sydney, 1989 p.22)


Images from the personal papers of Archibald Liversidge held in the Archives shed new light on the Angel of Knowledge. The images below have been commented on by Liversidge. His comments on the second image are wrong as from contemorary accounts we know that the Angel of Knowledge was put up in 1859 (see above), and the second image would have been taken after it came down in 1874.

The first images states:
The angel on the finial of the Great Hall has been taken down. When this photo was taken the stone was much darker in patches than now, the Fe (Iron) has weathered out.

The second image states:
The University of Sydney (before 1872) if so, before the angel was put up over the gable of the Great Hall - the angel was taken down about 187? & the head was kept in the chemical laboratory for a time - perhaps 2 or 3 years. AL