Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bardon House, Bardon

It is very satisfying when people take time out to let me know that they are enjoying reading about Brisbane's history in this blog. It is even more rewarding when they offer material for future blog posts. That is what has happened here - an email correspondent, Elizabeth McCray, told me of her family history with this building, Bardon House. Her family, the Exleys, lived here in the early twentieth century, up until the time it was sold to the Catholic church. She was also kind enough to supply the following image of the house, showing some people I presume to be family members, that must date from around 1920.(Photo: Kindly provided by E McCray)

And the following image shows what Bardon (the suburb was named after the house) looked like at that time - the picture shows the junction of Simpson Rd, Gordon Rd and Outlook Crescent, just a few hundered metres from Bardon House, situated on The Drive.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #133637)

Bardon House was built in 1863 by well-known Brisbane builder and early mayor of Brisbane, Joshua Jeays, whom we met in the last post. Jeays had developed a quarry at Woogaroo (now called Goodna), and this house was built from stone sourced there. Bardon House is a two-storey Victorian Gothic structure with a steeply pitched roof, gables and dormer windows. It is shown from a different angle in this photograph below, taken in 1930. You can see similarities with the building shown in the previous post, Romavilla at North Quay, which has unfortunately now been demolished.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #158570) 1930

It appears that Jeays never lived in this house, although that was his intention when building it. His wife Sarah, who apparently was never in the best of health, died before it was finished, and a heartbroken Joshua Jeays lived out the rest of his life at North Quay. However, his children used the residence. Daughter Sarah and her husband Sir Charles Lilley (future Queensland premier) were residents for a time.

It is recorded that in 1911 the house was bought from the Jeays/Lilley family by Arthur Exley, the great-grandfather of my correspondent Elizabeth McCray; however it seems that the Exleys may have been living in the house prior to that date. Elizabeth writes that Arthur was a school teacher, and he was very instrumental in introducing superannuation for teachers. He was a fondly remembered headmaster of Ithaca Creek State School, and he was a founding member of the Fernberg Masonic Lodge. He and his wife, also called Elizabeth, had six children. Elizabeth Exley was the founder of the District Nursing Association which commenced in 1905 with just one nurse. I found the following advertisement in the archives of the Brisbane Courier, dated Thursday 23rd December, 1909:

  • "Wanted for Mothers' Union District Nurses' Home, trained maternity nurse. Apply Mrs Exley, 'Bardon' Upper Paddington."

This organisation, associated with the Anglican church, became St Luke's and is now called Spiritus. Elizabeth Exley was also a founding member of the Bardon Womens' Club and was involved in the Temperance movement. Here she is again, in the government notices in the Brisbane Courier of 29 October 1914, as having been added to the electoral roll:

  • "Exley, Elizabeth Francis, Bardon Estate, Upper Paddington, domestic duties, 7 Sep., 1914, F"
Brisbane's Roman Catholic Archbishop Duhig bought Bardon House from the Exleys in 1925. The following picture dates from 1959.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #74791)

Bardon House was used as a temporary church until an actual church was built in Bardon. It also served as the residence for the local priest and then as a school. Franciscan Sisters moved into the building in 1937 to run the school, St Joseph's. Bardon House is still part of St Joseph's School, which is now quite large. Here is a current picture of the entrance to Bardon House - unfortunately the school has parked a couple of huge white demountable classrooms right in front of the building, so a wider shot than this was impossible.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

The blue disk next to the door has been placed there by the Queensland Women's Historical Association and it reads: "This house was built in 1853 by Joshua Jeays an alderman of the first Brisbane Municipal Council in 1859 and Mayor of Brisbane in 1864. He named it Bardon after Bardon Hill in Leicesteshire England." (NB - The date of construction on the plaque (1853) differs from the date in other records. Upper Paddington wasn't surveyed until 1862, at which time land first became available for purchase, so the later date of 1863 is more probable.)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Heritage listed?


  1. "Bardon House is a two-storey Victorian Gothic structure with a steeply pitched roof, gables and dormer windows."

    I agree with all of that, but I am still aware of the differences between the architectural style in Brisbane and the same style in Melbourne. And not entirely, I am guessing, because you have a hotter and much wetter climate.

    The rock Jeays quarried was lighter, ? softer and less "dignified" than the typical bluestone that Melbournians loved. And Jeays' roof and gables were VERY steeply pitched. Finally his verandas look less structural than here.

    Am I on the right track here, do you think?

  2. Probably Hels.

    I think also that this house and Romavilla in the previous post were probably designed by Jeays himself, who despite his other professional attributes, was not an architect.

    This house was to be his "country residence" and as such, I believe it was built in the style of houses in England, particularly around Bardon Hill in Leicestershire.

    Sadly he never lived there.

  3. I went to school there in the mid 60s. Lovely convent. I remember as clear as day the lovely Sister Leo in the kitchen, Sister Patrice (Grade 2), Sister Monica, Sister Margaret, Mrs Palmer, Sister Joseph the music teacher. The lovely Jacaranda trees growing on the school grounds and the old St Mary Magdalene hall. I used to learn music in the room at the end of the convent.


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