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'The Cloisters'

St George's Terrace, at the top of Mill St, 1858


The so-called Cloisters was built as a school for Mathew Hale, first Anglican Bishop of WA in 1858, designed by Richard Roach Jewell. Its formal name was Perth Church of England Collegiate School, but it was known as the Bishop's School. It eventually became today's Hale School (via being a government school for a brief period).


Bishop's School, original wing, 1868


John & Ray Oldham 1960: 48-49:
The Cloisters: One of the most interesting of Perth’s old buildings is this little Tudoresque building, which has been admired and loved by many generations of West Australians since it was built around 1862.
The Cloisters is one of the best examples of our distinctive colonial architecture, its basic simplicity enhanced by the skilful use of the construction material. The decorative diamond lacing in the East wing has almost the quality of peasant gaiety; and is the most beautiful example of decorated brickwork in this State—and probably anywhere in Australia.
The soft and mellow colours of the bricks range from deep purple through orange-red to creamy white. They are particularly well laid, though some of them, being soft in texture like many of the early bricks, have worn and crumbled and repairs have been unsympathetically carried out. The unusual diaper treatment gives added richness of texture, which is enhanced by such details as the variation from the predominant dark stretcher of the chequered pattern of the West wing, to light stretchers around the entrance porch, giving this emphasis; and by the angles of the rubbed brickwork round buttresses and base.
The design of The Cloisters has been attributed to Richard Roach Jewell.
Besides possessing considerable architectural and aesthetic interest, The Cloisters is rich in historic associations. It was the first boys’ secondary school in the State, founded and financed by Bishop Hale; and through its doors passed many men who later played a prominent role in the State’s history, among them being Alexander, John and David Forrest; Septimus, Octavius and Alfred Burt; Maitland Brown; the Parker brothers John, William, Fred and George; Edward and Frank Wittenoom; and members of such other well-known families as Burges, Bunbury, King, Brockman, Leeder, Shenton, Stone, de Burgh and Lee Steere, to mention only a few. Later The Cloisters became a girls’ school; then a theological college; then a University Hostel, among many other things.
The Historical Society has recommended to the Government that this building be preserved on its site; and we strongly support the recommendation. Because The Cloisters is situated very close to the street boundary, its retention need not prevent an economic development of the valuable city site; for a point-block built behind it could suitably retain the old building as part of a garden court entrance— which treatment is often done on valuable city sites overseas, and whereby the profitable development of the site is possible where city building is regulated on a plot-ratio basis, as is done in Perth.
Such a treatment of the site has the approval of many visiting town planners of eminence, including the Hon. Lionel Brett and Professor Gordon Stephenson; and we hope that the Church of England will always cherish this beautiful heirloom, as a memorial to their most distinguished pioneer—the first Bishop, who was such a munificent benefactor to the Church of which he was the head, and who also contributed greatly to the development of other spheres of activity in the young colony of Western Australia.

References and Links

Oldham, John & Ray, 1961, 'The three periods of Western Australia’s colonial architecture, parts I and II', Early Days, vol. 5, part 6: 31-58.

Wikipedia page, from whence the photos.

My page for Hale School.

Garry Gillard | New: 9 June, 2018 | Now: 26 March, 2024