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Abbotsford Convent

Architect: JB Denny, Thomas Kelly and Reed Smart & Tappin

City of Yarra | Y13

Today a beloved inner-urban retreat, and a creative hub for 150 arts and creative practitioners, the Abbotsford Convent was once one of the largest Catholic complexes in Australia, and by 1901 was the largest charitable institution in the Southern Hemisphere. Founded by The Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1863, the Abbotsford Convent operated as a monastic site until 1975, providing refuge, education and shelter for thousands of women and girls, many of whom worked in the Convent’s Magdalen Laundries. As the largest and last remaining intact example of institutionalised care in Australia, in 2017 the Convent was placed on the National Heritage List, citing the Convent’s Laundries and Asylum buildings as an important physical record for Forgotten Australians. The architectural style of the Convent’s 11 buildings range from French Gothic/Medieval and European Baroque Revival, to the utilitarian early colonial architecture of the original Industrial School. Most buildings were constructed between 1868 and 1908, and were designed by notable architects including Reed, Smart and Tappin, JB Denny, and Thomas Kelly. During your visit, be sure to explore the recently restored Sacred Heart building and heritage rotunda, and meet artists and creatives in their studios from 12–2pm.

A full guide for universal access can be found on the Abbotsford Convent website.

Print Program amendment:

Not open Saturday 28, as listed in the print program

Need to Know

  • Open: Sun 11am-4pm

  • What's Open: Convent building, newly-restored Sacred Heart building, heritage gardens, open studios.

  • Special Programming: There will also be a few of our standard Convent Social History tours across the day 20 max for each talk

  • Building Type: Cultural

  • Facilities: Toilets, Food and beverage available

  • Access: Pram accessible, Fully accessible

  • Year Built: 1863

  • Transport: No public transport available. Car parking available on St Heliers St

  • Photo Credit: Image 1&3. Charlie Kimross Images 2-4 The Abbotsford Convent Foundation

  • Tour Type: Self-guided

Location

1 St Helliers Street, Abbotsford, VIC

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