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Church bells toll for Toodyay heritage listing

Dec 07, 2018


Image of Toodyay Roman Catholic Church

  • Church buildings - including a former house locals call 'The Ship' - heritage listed
  • Buildings purchased in 1902 for use as Sisters of Mercy boarding school 

Toodyay's Roman Catholic Church group has been recognised as an important historical and religious landmark and today joins the State Register of Heritage Places.

The group of buildings has been used for various religious purposes over the years and to this day remains a strong architectural presence on Toodyay's main street.

It includes what is known locally as 'The Ship', a two-storey Victorian Georgian style brick and shingle house built in the 1860s by Toodyay's resident Medical Officer, Colonial Surgeon Dr Arthur Growse.

In 1902, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Perth purchased 'The Ship' and a neighbouring property for use as a girl's boarding school by the Sisters of Mercy, Australia's first religious order dedicated to teaching.

The convent building, Mercy House was built in 1903 and additional boarding facilities were constructed in the 1920s to meet growing demand. This included a boy's combined school and dormitory building, St Aloysius House, and an additional girl's dormitory, O'Connor House.

The Sisters of Mercy occupied the place until 1983 as their convent residence; place of worship and school, and as a base for religious education programs and school camps.

From 1997 to 2017, the buildings were home to a small number of Franciscan friars known as Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Comments attributed to Heritage Minister David Templeman:

"Beyond its physical heritage importance, Toodyay's Roman Catholic Church Group has helped the town develop a strong sense of community.

"It is greatly valued by Toodyay and the wider community as an historical landmark and a long-term religious and educational institution, as a place of prayer and spiritual guidance for parishioners, and by generations of former boarders and their families.

"I am thrilled that its historical importance has been formally recognised with its listing on the State Register of Heritage Places."

Comments attributed to Agricultural Region MLC Darren West:

"The heritage listing of this beautiful and remarkable group of buildings will ensure that these landmarks are enjoyed into perpetuity.

"People travel to visit and view Toodyay's historic buildings so this listing will help boost tourism to the town."

inHerit - an online portal for heritage listings

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