No. 1357 - Launceston - Presentation Convent (1901-2003)

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

The Presentation Convent on Bourke Street was built in 1900 to replace an old convent school situated at the rear of Church of the Apostles. The first convent, which opened in 1873, was one of eleven schools established by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, better known as the Presentation Sisters. A short history of the first convent can be found here: [No. 1245]

The foundation stone for the new convent was ceremonially laid on Sunday 1 July 1900. The Launceston Examiner described the event as follows:

“The time has arrived for the erection of much larger quarters for the nuns in residence at the Presentation Convent, Margaret-street, and the Archbishop of the Diocese (Dr. Murphy) yesterday afternoon laid the foundation stone of a new building that will not alone give all the accommodation desired, but also constitute an important addition to the architectural features of the city. There was a large gathering to witness the ceremony, including the Mayor (Alderman Panton)…..After a short service the Archbishop "well and truly" laid the stone, first placing beneath it some soil taken from the grave of St. Patrick. The venerable prelate then addressed the gathering, the size of which he thought augured well for the success, both spiritually and temporally, of the undertaking. As showing the necessity for the building, he referred to the increase of the scholars attending the convent schools from the initial 70 or 80 to near 500… He explained that the undertaking had been rendered possible by a gentleman offering £500 if another would follow suit, and this had been secured….Dean Beechinor made a vigorous appeal for donations, and a number of substantial cheques and many smaller sums were laid upon the stone”.

The building was completed in mid 1901 and was officially opened and dedicated on Sunday 17 November in that year. The opening was a spectacular event with a large number of Launceston’s Catholic community in attendance. The Examiner reported:

“At the Church of the Apostles yesterday the Archbishop of Hobart (Dr. Murphy) officiated at High Mass in the morning.…In the afternoon, in the presence of a large number of spectators of many denominations, a procession headed by the school children, and composed of the female branch of the confraternity of the Sacred Heart, Children of Mary, male branch of the confraternity, members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the acolytes marched through the grounds from the church to the new building. The Archbishop, surrounded by a bodyguard of the officers and members of the Hibernian Society… entered the building, a substantial three-storey edifice of brick and performed the ceremony. The children formed up on the lawn and under the leadership of Mr. A. Roper, sang several selected hymns and St. Joseph's Band, stationed in a cool corner of the enclosure, contributed sacred numbers….”.

A report in the Daily Telegraph included a description of the new convent:

“The new building is delightfully situated on the edge of the hill which rises from the back of the convent grounds. …A spacious plot of land intervenes between the front of the new building and the back of the old. Standing on the ground level one sees in front the schools, with the dark stone walls and slate roof of the Church of Apostles showing through the trees, which shade the marble monuments in the little cemetery, where the mortal remains of the late Dean Butler and deceased sisters were laid to rest….”.

The report continued:

“The building is of the domestic Gothic style of architecture, and three storeys high, the front having an easterly aspect. The walls are of brick throughout, resting on a cement concrete foundation, and the building is provided with a nicely designed slate roof…. A verandah and two balconies are provided on the front, and these are finished in hardwood, with varnished ceilings. ….The north wall is pierced by 14 windows with stone copings. Entrance to the building is gained through a wide door…On the ground floor there is a roomy refectory, reception room, several music rooms, and kitchen and stores. A music room, two parlours, eight bedrooms, bath-rooms, etc., occupy the first floor, and on the floor above there is an oratory, nine bedrooms, and bath and linen rooms. Altogether there are between 30 and 40 rooms in the, building, in addition to the usual outbuildings….The different rooms are large in size, some of them, such as the reception rooms, oratory, and refectory, being fine, spacious apartments. All the wants of the inmates appear to have been fully considered by the designers of the building. There are special rooms for novices, lay sisters, and visitors, and one that may be used as an infirmary, and all through the conveniences in regard to bells, lights, ventilation, hot and cold water, sanitary arrangements, private entrances, and all the other details which go to make an ideal residence are most complete and of the most approved description. The original design was the work of the Archbishop, the architect being Mr G. Laidlaw, and clerk of works Mr W. Keogh".

The convent remained in use for almost 100 years until its closure in 2003. At this time there were only two elderly nuns in residence. The property was sold and converted into a hotel which is still in operation.

The Convent in 1907 - The Weekly Courier

The Convent's Oratory or Chapel where the Presentation Sisters would regularly attend Mass. Photo: The Weekly Courier (1907)

The Convent is now the Auldington Hotel


Examiner, Monday 2 July 1900, page 6
Daily Telegraph, Monday 18 November 1901, page 3
Examiner, Monday 18 November 1901, page 6
Weekly Courier, 20 July 1907, page 21

Southerwood, W. T.  Planting a Faith : Launceston's Catholic story in word and picture / W.T. Southerwood  W.T. Southerwood [Hobart  1968] (A History Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School and The Church of Apostles - Cynthia Brock, 2012)


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