Scenes from the first day in Sydney

Scenes from the first day in Sydney
D, the Opera House, and the Bridge

Thursday, March 5, 2009

St. Ignatius Riverview

This has been a busy week with social engagements as our tertian class has enjoyed the hospitality of several welcoming Jesuit communities. On Monday, St. Aloysius College (secondary school), on Wednesday, St. Mary's Parish, and tonight, St. Ignatius Riverview. Suffice to say, it's a good thing the long retreat is coming up and we'll be on a bit more of an austere regime.

The view from the roof of the Main hall... Sydney in the distance.

A gorgeous school... details below.

Since its foundation in 1880 St Ignatius' College, Riverview has been under the care of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

While the founder of the school in the real sense was Father Joseph Dalton SJ, the school does have two other founders. The first one was Archbishop Roger Bede Vaughan who invited the Jesuits to Sydney on condition that they found a boys' boarding school and the second one was Father J J Therry, who, on his death in 1864 left the greater part of his property to the Society of Jesus.

Archbishop Vaughan's gift of a large sum of money out of the sale of Lyndhurst, the old Benedictine College at Glebe, and the Jesuits sale of one of Father Therry's properties, Josephton, at what is now Avalon, provided much of the finance needed for establishing St Ignatius' College.

After Archbishop Vaughan asked the Jesuits to open a day school in Sydney (St Kilda House, later to become St Aloysius' College) and a boarding college on the North Shore, Father Joseph Dalton purchased the Riverview Estate on behalf of the Society of Jesus.

George Whitfield (a Sydney gunsmith) was the original owner of the Riverview Estate having purchased the property in 1842. He built a two storey stone retreat which he named Ormeau View, after the Ormeau district in his native Belfast. Whitfield met a violent death at the hands of a fellow gunsmith in 1864 and in the following year Ormeau View was put up for sale. Advertisements dwelt upon the scenic location of the property, its view of Sydney Harbour in the distance, its orchard of about four acres, enclosed with a wall, and a fine open piece of land, containing about 3 acres known as the 'Pigeon Ground'. The purchaser was Manuel Francis Josephson, who renamed the estate, Riverview.

When the Riverview Estate was put up for sale, Father Joseph Dalton concluded arrangements for its purchase on 28 June 1878. Eighteen months later Father Dalton was appointed foundation Rector of St Ignatius' College.
An advertisement was placed in the Catholic newspaper; The Express stating that boys aged between 8 and 12 would be received at Riverview 'as soon as possible after the Christmas holidays'. Classes commenced in the cottage in February 1880.

The cottage soon became very cramped as more boys arrived and in order to provide better accommodation St Michael's House was built. The building, designed by W W Wardell and opened on the feast of Saint Michael, 29 September 1880. Further building took place at the College in 1882 with the construction of a wooden boatshed and in 1883 the infirmary was built.

archives_fr_tucker.jpgIn its early years the College offered 'Classical and Modern Languages, History, Mathematics, the Natural Sciences and all other branches required for the Civil Service, the Junior, Senior and Matriculation Examinations.' It was advertised that the curriculum included a modern side - mercantile subjects.

By December 1882, with an enrolment of only 70 students, the College extended the curriculum to include English Composition, Writing, Music, Singing, Drawing, Painting, Irish History and Oral Latin.

Lessons were taught six days a week. The day began at 6.15 am, with prayers, Mass and study before breakfast at 8.30 am and concluded with night prayers at 8.30pm. On Sundays and holidays the boys were allowed to sleep in until 6.30am.

The main building of the College was constructed in three stages between 1885 - 1930 and the foundation stone was laid by Cardinal Moran Archbishop of Sydney on 15 December 1885. As originally designed by Gilbert, Dennihey and Tappin, of Ballarat, the building was to be a huge square, representing four identical fronts, but only the South front was completed according to plan.

Although the first dayboys were not officially admitted until 1923, there was a small group of pupils who were permitted to attend the college as dayboys. In fact, up until the 1960s dayboys remained relatively small in number and Riverview was mainly for boarders.

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