No. 1324 - Beaconsfield - St Francis Xavier Convent School and Convent Chapel (1899-1968)

This article is one of a series about buildings associated with Tasmania’s historical churches and religious orders. These buildings include Sunday schools, parish halls, convents, orphanages, schools and residences of the clergy. Ancillary buildings are often overlooked and rarely feature in published histories. My aim is to create a basic record of these buildings, including of those that no longer exist.

On 24 March 1899, three Presentation sisters arrived in Beaconsfield to found a convent. At the time the area around Beaconsfield had a population of 6500 and at least one-quarter of the men employed in district’s ten gold mines belonged to the Catholic faith.

With no school rooms, the Sisters conducted lessons in the church. At the end of each week the classroom was packed up to that the church could be used for worship. After 1905 the school operated in a hall built next to the church. The school hall was identical to the hall built at St Finn Barr’s at Invermay (Launceston) in the same year. Two new classrooms were added to St Francis Xavier Hall in 1939 which were opened and blessed by Archbishop Dr. J. D. Simonds in January 1940. The renovation of the hall and construction of the classrooms was undertaken by Mr. C. Connolly at a cost of £500.

In 1949 the 50th anniversary of the Presentation Sisters at Beaconsfield was celebrated with Archbishop Dr. E. V. Tweedy in attendance. During the celebration the Archbishop blessed a blackwood altar and tabernacle in the Convent Chapel that was presented by friends and past students of the school.

The school closed in 1968 by which time more than 2000 students had attended during its 70 years existence.

Francis Xavier Hall and classrooms (undated) - Archdiocese of Hobart

The Presentation Sisters Convent in which contained the Sisters private chapel or oratory. (Finding A Way)

The hall in 2023

The hall in 2023


Sources:

Examiner, Monday 22 May 1905, page 6
Examiner, Monday 15 January 1940, page 6
Examiner, Tuesday 20 September 1949, page 7

Southerwood, W. T Planting a faith in Tasmania : the country parishes. [W. T. Southerwood], [Hobart], 1977.




 

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