Spirituality and the sea

The Mission To Seafarers Collection explores the early provision of welfare to sailors in Sydney ports and the surprising role of charitable religious organisations in maritime history. ANMM Collection.

The Mission to Seafarers Collection explores the early provision of welfare to sailors in Sydney ports and the surprising role of charitable religious organisations in maritime history. ANMM Collection.

The Mission to Seafarers Collection

The museum has acquired an evocative collection of maritime heritage from the Mission to Seafarers, Sydney, which has a history dating back to the early port in 1822. We can now explore the stories of the early provision of welfare to sailors and the surprising role of charitable religious organisations in maritime history.

By the 1820s, the Sydney waterfront was bustling with ships from around the world. Tens of thousands of sailors were temporary residents of the thriving maritime township. While the sailors thronged the many pubs and inns of The Rocks area, near the port, they were not known for their attendance at religious services. In 1822 the rector of St Philip’s Church of England, the Reverend William Cowper, instigated the establishment of an interdenominational society that could minister to sailors from different churches. Lacking a place of worship, Cowper and other volunteer clergymen conducted their early services on board the ships in port.

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