19-12-1884: Convent of the Good Shepherd, Oakleigh, Victoria.

The Argus, Melbourne, Friday 19th December 1884, page 5.

“A stained glass window, by Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, of Collins-street, has been erected in the church of the Convent of the Good Shepherd, at Oakleigh. The window, which is very large, is divided into four compartments, and in these, respectively, are representations of the Virgin, the Good Shepherd, Joseph, and John the Baptist. Above and below the figures are medallions containing emblems of the Passion, the seamless garment, the crown of thorns, &c. In the tracery is a quatrefoil containing and emblem of the descent of the Holy Spirit, and in the trefoils are emblems symbolic of the passion and death of the Saviour”.

The fate of this stained glass window remains a mystery!

The Convent of the Good Shepherd was established at Oakleigh in 1883 and demolished in the 1980’s to make way for the Chadstone Shopping Centre. In 2011 the Archivist at the Good Shepherd, Fraser Faithful, indicated that there was no knowledge of a window of that description in existence. In 1931 a new chapel was being built so this may be when the windows were last seen. Another rumour suggests that there was an auction at the convent and no artifact was spared!

On the 25th March 2011, Fraser wrote:
“…The window you mention would have been installed in the original chapel building constructed 1883-1884 [the Convent opened at the end of 1883]. The original chapel was replaced in 1931 by the much larger building that we know today as the Oakleigh Chapel, and the original church was built around and became part of the main Convent Building. We have not been able to trace any information about the original 1884 window…”

National Library of Australia, Picture Australia, Convent of the Good Shepherd Oakleigh, Registration number MP4516, accessed 1st April 2012.

“The Convent of the Good Shepherd was built in 1883 at the corner of Dandenong Road and Castlebar Road next door to Chadstone (cottage), on land originally owned by speculator Patrick O’Farrell. O’Farrell, a solicitor, had purchased 55 acres of land in October 1855 from the Crown. One of his clients was the first Catholic Bishop of Melbourne, James Alipius Goold OSM, to whom O’Farrell sold the land in 1856 for £274.In 1881, in order to extend the work of the Convent at Abbotsford, Archbishop Goold invited the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to establish a convent and reformatory school on his land at Oakleigh (later known as Chadstone). In July 1881, Goold laid the foundation stone for the Convent, which was built with bricks made from clay quarried on the site and rendered with roughcast cement.The Convent of the Good Shepherd opened in December 1883, for the purpose of ‘training and educating poor and neglected children’. The Convent offered academic, domestic and commercial training for girls aged 11 to 13 who were deemed by the Children’s Court to be in need of care and it also provided care for older girls and women. The Convent was also remembered for the quality of its embroidery.The 19th Century complex of buildings included the Convent, Chapel, Reformatory School, Laundry and Priest’s Cottage. St Anthony’s Primary School, established for the children of the Parish in 1899, closed in 1979. The foundation stone for a new French Gothic Chapel, was laid by the Archbishop of Melbourne, His Grace the Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Mannix, in June 1930. The Chapel, with its graceful spire and clocktower, became a local landmark.In 1958 and 1963, parts of the Convent land were sold for development of the shopping centre. In 1984, 3.2 hectares of land, containing the Convent, Chapel and other buildings of the Good Shepherd complex, were sold. The following year, amidst much controversy, the buildings referred to as ‘a place of love, peace and shelter to countless numbers for over a century’, were demolished in order to extend the car park at Chadstone Shopping Centre”.

The detailed description indicates that it was a substantial window of four lights plus tracery glass above. Such a window would have cost hundreds of pounds c.1884 and I very much doubt it was destroyed. The question is, where is the window now?

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