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Former Convent Of The Good Shepherd

Heritage Listed Location


Clarke Street And St Helliers Street Abbotsford, Yarra City, Victoria, Australia

Places Nearby

Abbotsford, 3067 0.7km Richmond North, 3121 1.6km Richmond South, 3121 2.0km Hawthorn East, 3123 2.3km Hawthorn North, 3122 2.9km

Details / Significance

The Former Convent of the Good Shepherd is symbolic of the first permanent European settlement in Collingwood. It also played an important role in the establishment of the Good Shepherd Order throughout Australia and New Zealand.

The role of the complex within the Collingwood community fulfilled over a long period a charitable and educational role together with other similar but less substantial institutions. The Convent was crucial to the expansion of charitable facilities by the Catholic Church in Australia during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

In turn, the central role Collingwood played as a repository for Melbourne?s poor in the mid- to late-19th century and thus as a site for many charitable institutions, of which Abbotsford was by far the largest. It is also important for its early creation of women?s refuges in the State.

The Good Shepherd order played a part early in provision of privately operated reformatories and industrial schools. The concept was subsequently used as a model for the development of the State's late 19th century policy on rehabilitation of its wards. The Convent is also notable for possessing the oldest known surviving privately built industrial school in the State.

Architecturally, it is a visually cohesive complex, developed from the repetition of simply built components and in part an outstanding expression of the influence of French Medieval and Renaissance architecture and symbolic of a medieval village in miniature. It is also an intact and substantial example from the important architectural firm, Reed Smart and Tappin. Furthermore, the Convent it exemplifies nineteenth and early twentieth century convent architecture within an important landscape setting.

Examination of specifications held by Sisters of the Good Shepherd Convent, Abbotsford, shows that work on the main convent building was commenced in December 1899 by the firm of Reed, Smart and Tappin. These specifications give some idea of the careful craftsmanship which went into the building. They include detail instruction concerning masonry and brickwork, the bluestone foundations, the use of Castlemaine stone on the front balcony, and Oregon pine, Californian red pine and kauri in the carpentry and joinery.

Joseph Reed, founder of the firm Reed, Smart and Tappin, during a practise of forty years, "?designed most of Melbourne's major public buildings in any and every historic style.". Joseph Reed died in 1900. Reed, Smart and Tappin later became Bates, Peebles and Smart and later still, Bates Smart and McCutcheon.

In addition, plans held by the Melbourne University archives in their Bates, Smart and

McCutcheon records, confirm that the buildings were erected between 1899 and 1902. This collection of Abbotsford convent plans includes many large and beautiful colour drawings, such as: basement plan, ground floor plan, first floor plan, second floor plan; northern, eastern, southern and western elevations, and part of the southern elevation section through the balcony.

Nothing is known of the early history of the garden. It probably dates from the late nineteenth century. A lawn sweeps down and away from the main building and focuses on a small summer house and a perimeter path skirts the boundary. The garden is of some importance as a large mature garden with many fine trees in an area otherwise devoid of such gardens and is assumed to be largely intact.

[Compiled from the Report to the Minister, the National Trust and Register of the National Estate citations, and the Victorian Garden Inventory Form.]

User Stories

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Share your story with others.

I was one off the young girls 15 years old at the time, in the convent - 2 clarke street abbotsford as a "way ward girl" in 1964/65 working in the laundry my name given to me by the nuns was "angel" does anyone remember ?


1 former convent of the good shepherd clarke street abbotsford view of property nov1981
former convent of the good shepherd clarke street abbotsford arcaded walkway jun1984
former convent of the good shepherd courtyard jun1992
former convent of the good shepherd clarke street abbotsford detail of statue nov1986
former convent of the good shepherd clarke street abbotsford front view jun1984
former convent of the good shepherd clarke street abbotsford rear view
h00951 plan h0951

Heritage Listed Locations Nearby

Villa Alba 0.8km
Raheen 1.4km
Dolls House 1.6km
Shot Tower 1.8km
Northcote 2 1.9km
Elim 2.0km
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