Bishop’s Court is a two storey steep roofed stone building of English domestic style with a Tudor influence. Built as residence for the Bishop of Adelaide, by the first Bishop of Adelaide (Bishop Augustus Short) . The building is constructed in limestone, cut stone and brick quoins.
On 9 January 1851 the foundation stone of Bishop’s Court was laid by the Bishop’s eldest son, Henry Augustus Short, who was then eight years of age. At that time, the Register newspaper described the house as “a chaste design in Tudor-Gothic, but by no means an ambitious structure for an episcopal palace.”
The architect for Bishop’s Court was Henry Stuckey, who died soon afterwards on 31 May 1851, and was succeeded by Edmund William Wright, who married Stuckey’s widow.
The work proceeded under the builder T. Long, until 1852, when the gold rush to Victoria almost emptied Adelaide of workmen. Against great difficulty, the Bishop managed to have the building roofed but had to content himself with a bedroom, sitting room, and servant’s room. These rooms were used when he came to town from his residence at Beaumont. After his return from England in 1854, leading churchmen raised a handsome subscription towards the completion of Bishop’s Court. This, however, left the design incomplete and at a later date the Bishop added a dining room with bedrooms above. The house was ready for occupation in 1856.
Bishop’s Court remained unaltered until the time of Bishop Thomas, who arrived from England in 1906 and who in 1911-12 built the present chapel to take the place of the small room off the previous library. To do this the arcading which originally went right around the house to the front door was removed.
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The Right Rev. Augustus Short, first Bishop of Adelaide, arrived from England and was enthroned on 28 December 1847. Within a week of his arrival he contracted for two acres of land in North Adelaide upon which he proposed to erect an episcopal residence. He described the property as “at once airy and well drained” and commanding a “noble view of the valley of the Torrens, the city of Adelaide, and the fine range of Mount Lofty.”
Gothic architecture is, by tradition, the favoured architectural style of the Church of England. Nearly all English cathedrals were built in one or another of the Gothic style periods, the last phase of which was known as Tudor.
Ecclesiastical Gothic architecture had its domestic counterpart at all times; however, such buildings were of necessity much simpler than the great ecclesiastical structures which dwarfed them.
The Tudor influence was long carried on in English domestic architecture; therefore, after the Gothic revival in the nineteenth century, it was not surprising that its charm should return to popularity in church circles.
Tudor Gothic revival was the style chosen by Bishop Short and his architect Henry Stuckey for Adelaide’s Church of England episcopal residence.