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Bardon House

  • 600053
  • 41 The Drive, Bardon


Also known as
Franciscan Sisters' Convent
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 October 1992
Residential: Detached house
6.4 Building settlements, towns, cities and dwellings: Dwellings
8.1 Creating social and cultural institutions: Worshipping and religious institutions
9.1 Educating Queenslanders: Providing primary schooling
Donoghue, John Patrick (Jack)
Jeays, Joshua
Jeays, Joshua
Construction periods
1864–1926, Bardon House (1864 - 1926)
1864, Bardon House - Residential accommodation - main house (1864 - 1864)
1926, Bardon House - Church (hall) (1926 - 1926)
Historical period
1840s–1860s Mid-19th century


41 The Drive, Bardon
Brisbane City Council
-27.458748, 152.980008


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

Bardon House (c1863/64) is important for the evidence it provides of the way of life of prosperous citizens in the outer suburbs of Brisbane in the early decades of Queensland's history. In 1925, Bardon House was acquired for use as a convent and church for the new parish of Rosalie, and as such, demonstrates the evolution of the Roman Catholic church in Queensland. This is also demonstrated by the adjacent St Mary Magdelene's Hall which was constructed in 1926 as the first parish church. It remained in use until a new church was constructed in 1963.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

Bardon House is a Victorian Gothic style stone house with a complex steeply pitched roof of intersecting gables and dormer windows and is an uncommon example of this style of architecture in Queensland.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

The house is of aesthetic significance due to its prominence in the streetscape and for its fine workmanship and architectural style. It is important as an early example of a fine quality 1860s Queensland residence of masonry construction and fine joinery.

St Mary Magdelene's Hall is also of aesthetic significance for its high degree of internal detailing.

Criterion GThe place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

The house and the hall are significant for their association with the local parish, and with the Roman Catholic Church who have been the owners of Bardon House, St Mary Magdelene's Hall and the grounds since 1925.

Criterion HThe place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

Bardon House is significant for its association with its first owner, Joshua Jeays, who was a prominent Brisbane builder, architect and politician.


Bardon House, a two-storeyed stone residence, was constructed in 1863/64 by Joshua Jeays, builder, architect and early mayor of Brisbane. It is thought that he constructed it for his wife Sarah, who died prior to its completion.

Joshua Jeays (1812-1881) arrived in Moreton Bay from England with his wife Sarah and four children in 1853. Born in Leicestershire, he trained as a carpenter and builder and worked in London before emigrating. Jeays established himself independently as a builder and contractor in Brisbane from 1857 after dissolving his earlier partnership with JW Thompson, securing contracts for many notable early Brisbane buildings including Old Government House [QHR 600118]. After retiring in 1864, he continued to operate his stone quarry at Woogaroo, where some of the finer stone for Bardon House was quarried. He was also involved in local politics, becoming an alderman of the Brisbane Municipal Council in its foundation year, 1859 and serving as Mayor in 1864-65. From 1854, Jeays resided with his family at a house on North Quay.[1]

The first half of the 1860s was a period of strong growth for Brisbane in the newly established colony of Queensland. Immigration boosted the population dramatically (more than doubling between 1861 and 1864 to over 12,000) and many substantial public and private buildings were constructed during this time. The urban environment of Brisbane's fledgling town centre, where residential dwellings co-existed in close proximity with commercial and industrial activity, was characterised by congestion, noise, and poor sanitation, common among other developing towns and cities in mid-19th century Australia.[2]

During this period ‘villa estates', located in the suburban periphery in then semi-rural settings - on elevated locations such as along ridgelines, and in some instances with river frontage - became an increasingly popular type of dwelling for Brisbane's more affluent residents. This demographic included senior public servants, professionals and successful business people. The flight to residential villa estates by the affluent was a development pattern that occurred internationally during the Victorian era. Key elements of villa estates included large and comfortable houses, associated outbuildings such as servant's quarters and stabling, expansive garden settings, and a ‘good road to town’.[3]

In November 1862, in the first land sales for the area, Jeays acquired two Country Lots (Portions 301 and 302) ‘on Ithaca Creek’ before purchasing the adjacent Portion 300 from Francis Lyon in early 1863. Comprising 38 acres (15.38 ha), Portion 300 was the property on which Bardon House was constructed.[4]

Bardon House is thought to have been constructed by Jeays during 1863/64. The name is derived from Leicestershire County’s highest landmark, Bardon Hill, close to Joshua and Sarah Jeays’ respective home towns of Loughborough and Beeby.[5]

Sarah Jeays died in July 1864 while her husband was serving as the mayor of Brisbane; Joshua Jeays retired from business shortly afterwards and never resided at Bardon House, remaining at North Quay until his death in 1881.[6]

Jeays advertised a ‘Stone-Built Suburban VILLA RESIDENCE’ (sic) for lease in February 1865, with similar adverts appearing in subsequent months in the Brisbane Courier. By early 1866, Jeays’ daughter Sarah and husband [Sir] Charles Lilley (later Premier and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland) resided there. A family notice marking the birth of a son (Arthur) in March 1866 is the earliest documented reference to the place being called Bardon.[7] The Lilley’s occupancy of Bardon House appears to have ended by mid-1867, when Jeays was again advertising Bardon:

‘…a stone Villa, containing ten rooms beside coach-house, stables, out-offices, and garden, and 40 or 90 acres of land securely fenced.’[8]

The kitchen wing connected to Bardon House (to the south of the stone building) is built of brick. It has not been established if this was an original component of the house when first built, or if it was constructed later.

Thereafter, a succession of notable Brisbane residents and their families occupied the property for various periods of time. This included Thomas Harlin (First headmaster of Brisbane Boys Grammar School), and [Sir] Thomas Mc Ilwraith (later Premier of Queensland). John Stennett (of pharmaceutical firm Elliot Brothers) and his family occupied Bardon House from 1878-1886. Stennett bought just over 32 acres of land of portion 301 shortly before Joshua Jeays death in March 1881, later building a new residence Northam (demolished) in 1886. Subsequent tenants from the mid-1880s to early 1900s were stock and sharebroker Brownlow Cole, customs officer Charles William Rich and Johannes Christian Brunnich, a government agricultural chemist.[9]

Joshua Jeays died in March 1881 with the land that comprised his Bardon estate remaining in the ownership of the Jeays/Lilley family until 1911.[10] From 1903 Bardon House was leased to Arthur Exley who lived there with his wife Elizabeth, five daughters and son until 1925, one of the longest tenants at the property. Exley had an extensive career with the Department of Public Instruction (1886-1928) and was the headmaster of the nearby Ithaca State School [QHR 650022] when his family moved to Bardon. Elizabeth played a prominent role in the community, especially in relation to social services for women and children, helping to establish the first Queensland branch of the Anglican missionary organisation the Mothers Union and the District Nursing Association.[11]

The recollections of the youngest Exley daughter Joyce of Bardon in the early 1900s, provide a glimpse into the layout and features of the property at this time:

“… The house itself was approached by a drive whose gate was at the top of the drive and descended to the house enclosed by a bamboo drive—bamboos on either side of the road… the house grounds were about an acre with large trees—Bunya Pine, Moreton Bay Figs on either side of a circular carriage way to the front door. There was a terrace to the right [north] of the house the length of the long side verandah… A gate led to the back garden—two huge bamboo clumps and a vegetable garden which was in turn enclosed in the house acre. Below were stables—a carriage house, a coal shed, three horse boxes, a cow bail and cow sheds—and a forbidden loft. On the rise which is on the corner of Cecil Road and The Drive was a ‘man’s room’, a cottage sized room, mostly used by us children as a playroom.[12]

Repairs are thought to have been made to the house c.1910s, including the replacement of the original shingle roof with asbestos slates. Around this time pressed metal ceilings replaced some sections of plaster and lathe ceilings that had failed.[13]

Following the death of owner Edwyn Lilley in 1911, Arthur Exley, master builder Arthur Barltrop and solicitor Patrick O’Sullivan acquired the Bardon property holdings and formed the company Bardon Estate Limited, subdividing much of the land for new housing. Allotments were offered for sale in four stages between 1912 and 1921. As part of this subdivision, the original Bardon House driveway was gazetted as a road (The Drive). Five acres (2.023 ha), comprising parts of the original portions 300 and 301 were retained as surroundings for the house.[14]

The Exleys remained at Bardon house until the property was purchased by Archbishop James Duhig, for the Roman Catholic Church in 1925 for £2250. This occurred during a period of unprecedented growth in building and land acquisition by the Roman Catholic Church in Queensland. Duhig was appointed as Archbishop in 1917 having previously had served as Co-adjator Archbishop to his predecessor, Archbishop Dunne since 1912. It was from this time that Duhig planned immense growth within the Church. This growth was manifest by the large number of churches, schools, convents and presbyteries built increasing the church's presence in Queensland. In addition to new buildings, Duhig keenly acquired a number of Brisbane’s earliest substantial and prominent residences (such as Bardon House) for church purposes.[15]

The parish of Bardon was declared in 1926, the 38th Parish of the Archdiocese, the same year suburb was officially designated. The first mass was celebrated at Bardon House in March 1925 by Monsignor Lee of nearby Rosalie Parish. It was held in the central room of Bardon House, with the mantelpiece and table substituting as an altar.[16]

Appointed in 1925, Father Max Irvine, the Chaplain at Stuartholme Convent, became the first Parish Priest, and resided at Bardon House. By the following year, services were no longer held in Bardon House, as a church-school (St Mary Magdalene's, originally spelt Magdalen) was constructed within the grounds. Architect John (J.P. or Jack) Donoghue designed the new building, which was constructed by V Robinson. Donoghue (1894-1960) was an articled pupil with Hennessey and Hennessey, and later associate, and went on to design many buildings for the Catholic Church across Queensland, both in independent practice (1926-1937) and in the subsequent partnerships of Donoghue and Fulton (1937-1946) and Donoghue, Cusick and Edwards (1947-1960). A contemporary newspaper article on ‘new architect’ Donoghue indicates that the church-school may have been Donoghue’s earliest work as a lone practitioner.[17]  

The foundation stone for the church-school was laid at a ceremony in September, with the building officially opened on 7 November by Archbishop Duhig. It was a timber structure with a tiled and ventilated roof, built on a sloping site to the east of the house. At the time of its construction it was considered to be a ‘temporary arrangement,[18] but went on to serve as the parish church for nearly 40 years. A new St Mary Magdalene's church was constructed in 1963 on the grounds below Bardon House, designed by parishioner and architect Brian Hackett. The timber church was retained as a hall for school and parish purposes. A plaque at the entrance of the building indicates it was renamed ‘Lyons Hall’ c1977 in honour of long serving parish priest Fr Ray Lyons.[19]

While the intention was for the 1926 church to also be used as a school, this did not occur until 1938. Parish Priest, Dr O'Donoghue vacated Bardon and nuns of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (Franciscan Sisters, invited by Duhig) moved in on January 19, 1938 to establish a convent and new primary school, to be known as St Joseph’s. St Joseph's School was opened on January 24th 1938, with 31 male and female pupils. By the end of the year, a separate school building [located between Bardon house and the church, since demolished] was constructed on the site, its erection made possible through an anonymous donation of £1000. The church was used for teaching pupils from this time and an area under the building was later enclosed as classroom space.[20]

As part of its adaptation for convent and school use, the north facing verandah of Bardon House was enclosed to accommodate a classroom. The eastern verandah was enclosed with lattice around this time, while stone walls of the enclosed verandahs were also rendered. Further modifications related to its use as a convent from c.1950s included: internal lining of upper floor walls and ceilings with sheeting, and addition of bathroom; partitioning of some bedrooms; addition of built-in cupboards; re-roofing of the kitchen wing with corrugated iron; addition of a verandah to the east of the kitchen, and removal of western verandahs and ground floor bathrooms, replaced by the addition of new utility wing. By 1979, the slate roof had been replaced by flat pan metal roof and the (once prominent) chimneys had been removed.[21]

From the post-war era onwards, St Joseph's School developed and grew. A range of school buildings and sporting facilities have been constructed on the grounds since this time. Most structures on the school site now date from post-2000 era. The earliest surviving school building is the 1958 Forrest building, immediately west of Bardon House.


Bardon House and St Mary Magdalene's Hall are located within the grounds of St Joseph's School, Bardon. Bardon House is located on a rise above The Drive to the south, near the intersection with Cecil Road. Originally situated overlooking Ithaca Creek, it is now partly surrounded by school buildings to the west, north and northwest. The open space that extends between the House and the Hall to the east, enhances the setting of the two buildings; in 2017 the area is in use as a carpark. The Hall is situated adjacent to and facing the main entrance to the school off The Drive, and a lawn area to the front is bordered by a low brick fence. Due to its elevated position, Bardon House is a prominent feature along The Drive and makes an important contribution to the streetscape. An important feature of the place is the views formed by the relationship between Bardon House, its surrounds and the hills of the Taylor Range to the west.

Bardon House

Bardon House, an example of Victorian Gothic-styled architecture, is a two-storeyed stone structure that has a complex steeply pitched roof, with intersecting gables and dormer windows. The roof was originally shingled, but is currently sheeted with ribbed decking, and the chimney stacks have been removed. The gables have decorative fretwork bargeboards, and the dormers have louvred window units. The building has an L-shaped plan, with the main wing facing northeast and a service wing at the rear to the south. A single-storeyed gabled extension has been added to the rear southern wing, and lean-to additions to the western side.

The building is constructed of a combination of coursed and uncoursed squared rubble, with the remains of tuck pointing, and rough faced sandstone quoining to corners, doors and windows.

The northeast elevation has a central projecting gable, and an enclosed verandah to the ground floor. The gable has a central louvred window, surmounted by a sandstone relieving arch, with a stepped sandstone moulding below. The enclosed verandah has a corrugated iron lean-to roof, fibrous cement cladding, and louvred and casement windows.

The southeast elevation has a wide gable end to the main wing, with a narrower projecting gable adjacent to the south. A lean-to verandah is located adjacent to the southern wing. The wide gable has a large multi-paned leadlight sash window to the ground floor, with evidence of a former window hood, surmounted by a sandstone relieving arch. The first floor has a smaller casement window surmounting a stepped sandstone moulding, with a narrow lancet to the apex. The narrower gable has a central door to the ground floor, which is no longer used, with a fanlight and squared sandstone moulding forming the upper part of an architrave. The first floor has a narrow lancet window, with glass louvres, surmounting a stepped sandstone moulding. The lean-to verandah has been enclosed with timber lattice at the northern end, and has square timber posts and timber rail balustrade.

The northwest elevation has a gable end to the main wing, with two courses of sandstone forming a base, and a large louvred window to the ground floor surmounted by a sandstone relieving arch. The first floor has a smaller casement window surmounting a stepped sandstone moulding. A small square window opening, with glass louvres lighting a non-original toilet, has been inserted to the south of the casement window. External plumbing is also visible.

The lean-to addition to the western side of the rear wing has a corrugated iron roof, fibrous cement cladding, louvred windows and a brick base. A single-storeyed southern extension is constructed of Flemish bond brickwork, with a corrugated iron gable roof. The southern end of the southeast verandah has been enclosed with fibrous cement cladding, and has casement windows and French doors onto the verandah.

Internally, the ground floor of the main wing has a large central room (chapel), with a smaller room either side, and an enclosed verandah lined with fibrous cement sheeting along the northeast. The northern room has a central partition wall, which divides the space forming two bedrooms, and which bisects the fireplace surround and window. A staircase and hallway is located within the intersection with the southern wing, which has a living room with a verandah on the southeast. A kitchen and music room with verandah forms the later extension to the south. The western side has a lean-to addition, containing a dining room, laundry, bathroom, store and hallway, and is lined with fibrous cement sheeting. The ground floor of the building has mainly rendered masonry walls, pressed metal ceilings, and French doors with fanlights opening onto verandahs. The joinery is painted throughout, but reportedly is of cedar, and includes panelled doors, some with fanlights, architraves, skirtings and some fireplace surrounds. All fireplaces have been filled in.

A small room adjacent to the staircase has an external door which is no longer used, and a pivoting window with coloured glass panels opening onto the southeast verandah. This room may have formed part of the original entrance foyer, but the original arrangement in unknown. The staircase is early, but not original, and consists of a narrow dog-leg with winders, narrow turned timber newel posts and slim timber balusters. The wall to the south of the staircase has fibrous cement sheeting. The rear kitchen area has been altered, with a small room forming a two-way pantry, and a door and window to the western addition being removed.

Internally, the first floor contains bedrooms with a hallway along the southwest side and a bathroom at the northwest end. Walls and ceilings are lined with fibrous cement sheeting, with the rake of the roof sloping to approximately window sill height. A partition wall divides the central room into two bedrooms, bisecting a dormer window. The northwest bathroom, toilet and bedroom were also formed by a partition wall dividing a larger room. A large bedroom, to the southwest of the stairs, is accessed by a short hallway extension of the landing.

A carport is located on the southern side of the western lean-to addition, and a timber fence encloses a western garden. A large mango tree is situated near the southwest corner of the house. Modern concrete block retaining walls align approximately parallel to the northeast and southeast sides of the house, forming a landscaped platform containing lawn areas and garden beds with hedges and shrubs.

St Mary Magdalene's Hall (Lyon’s Hall)

The Hall is located on a steeply sloping site, with the front entrance on the southwest at ground level, and the rear of the building supported on a combination of tall concrete stumps and modern metal posts. It is a single-storeyed weatherboard-clad and tile-roofed structure comprising: a rectangular gable-roofed core with raised ridge ventilation; a hip-roofed bay with a projecting gabled porch framing the entrance; a large faceted bay containing a stage at the rear; and an office in the eastern corner. External stairs access the office and the northeast corner of the hall. Windows comprising glass horizontal louvres, with flat-sheeted fanlights, are evenly spaced along either side. Part of the understorey has been enclosed, with a combination of painted blockwork and flat sheeted walls, and has timber-framed casement windows.

The front porch sits on a brick plinth, which is accessed by a concrete ramp, and has a sheeted and battened gable infill. A marble foundation stone is embedded in the brickwork; it reads: ‘ST MARY MAGDALENE’S | THIS FOUNDATION STONE WAS BLESSED AND LAID BY THE RIGH REVEREND MONSIGNOR BYRNE, V.G. | 5TH SEPTEMBER 1926’. A modern metal plaque is also fixed to the brickwork; it reads: ‘LYONS’ HALL | FR RAY LYONS | Bardon Curate from 1937, Bardon Parish Priest 1954-1977’.

The interior layout comprises a large open hall space, with storage and a modern kitchen in the entrance bay. The raised stage is accessed by timber steps and framed by a bulkhead surround. The interior features decorative timberwork throughout.   The walls are of stained timber vertical boards to dado height, above which the walls are sheeted with a pale coloured material with dark stained cover strips placed in a symmetrical pattern. The ceiling features open timber trusses and is lined with dark stained timber boards which are diagonally laid with lattice ventilators at either end.

Other Buildings

Other buildings, structures, pathways, and sheds, and modern partitions and joinery, within the cultural heritage boundary are not of cultural heritage significance.


[1] Moreton Bay Courier, 21 November 1857, p.4; Donald Watson and Judith McKay, 1994, Queensland Architects of the 19th Century, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, p.106;Beryl Roberts, 2009, He Made His Mark; Joshua Jeays, Early Brisbane’s Master Builder and Statesman, , Boolarong Press, Brisbane, pp.35-36.
[2]  Helen Gregory (ed), 1990, Arcadian Simplicity: JB Fewings’ Memoirs of Toowong, Boolarong Publications, Brisbane, p.29; Allom Lovell & Associates Pty Ltd, 1984, Middenbury: An Historical Survey and Management Plan, p.7.
[3] Gregory, Arcadian Simplicity, pp.29-30; Allom Lovell & Associates Pty Ltd, p.7; Rod Fisher, ‘In Search of the Brisbane House' in Rod Fisher and Ray Sumner, eds,1985, Brisbane: Housing, Health, The River and The Arts, Brisbane History Group, p.43.
[4] Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM), Queensland Government, Certificate of Title (CT) No:10011109, 10011126.
[5] Roberts, He Made His Mark, pp.20-22.
[6] Brisbane Courier, 27 July1864, p.2; Queenslander, 19 March 1881, p.367.
[7] Brisbane Courier, 23 February 1865, p.1, 14 March 1866, p.2.
[8] Brisbane Courier, 18 May 1867, p.1.
[9] Maureen Freer, 1997, Bardon House, its people and environs, St Joseph’s Catholic School Parents and Friends Association, Bardon, pp.25-28; Brisbane Courier, 11 April 1870, p.2, 7 November 1874, p.1, 30 November 1876, p.2, 5 September 1878, p.2, 1 January 1894, p.4; Telegraph, 2June 1888, p.13; Queenslander, 12 April, 1902, p.830; CT 10393043.
[10] CT 10407222, 10407224, 11178115.
[11] Courier-Mail, 12 October 1937, p.14; Freer, Bardon House, its people and environs, pp. 28-29;
[12] Joyce Exley, ‘Bardon House c. 1902’, reproduced in Beatov Architects & Susan Hill, 2017,Bardon House Conservation Management Plan [draft], pp.18-19.
[13] Beatov Architects & Susan Hill, 2017,Bardon House Conservation Management Plan [draft], prepared for the Jubilee Catholic Parish, p.19, 51.
[14] Freer, Bardon House, its people and environs, p.30; CT 10407222, 11371052
[15] CT11371052; Daily Mail 9 March 1925, p.8; Queensland Heritage Register entry, 601585, Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church.
[16] Freer, Bardon House, its people and environs, p.32.
[17] John W East, 2017, "J.P." The Life and Career of the Brisbane Architect John Patrick Donoghue (1894-1960), The University of Queensland, p.1,59, downloaded 5June 2017, ; Daily Mail, 24 August 1926, p.16.
[18] Catholic Press,16 September 1926, p.41.
[19] Freer, Bardon House, its people and environs, p.63.
[20] Freer, Bardon House, its people and environs, pp.61-70.
[21] Freer, pp.67-70; Beatov Architects & Hill, Bardon House Conservation Management Plan [draft], p.51.

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Location of Bardon House within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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