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Booval House

  • 600549
  • 14 Cothill Road, Booval


Also known as
St Gabriel's Convent
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 August 1992
Residential: Detached house
6.4 Building settlements, towns, cities and dwellings: Dwellings
Wakeling, William Claydon
Hancock, William
Construction periods
1857–1859, Booval House - Main house (1857 - 1859)
1857–1896, Booval House (1857 - 1896)
1896, Booval House - Service wing (1896 - 1896)
unknown, Booval House - Garden/Grounds
Historical period
1840s–1860s Mid-19th century


14 Cothill Road, Booval
Ipswich City Council
-27.6155011, 152.79384375


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

It has a strong association with the early cotton-growing industry in Queensland in the 1860s; with two important early entrepreneurs George Faircloth and John Ferrett; and with the work of the Sisters of Mercy since 1930.

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

Built between 1857 and 1859, Booval House is a rare surviving example of a substantial two-storeyed brick house of the 1850s.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

Built between 1857 and 1859, Booval House is a rare surviving example of a substantial two-storeyed brick house of the 1850s.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

Although the exterior has been altered, its general form and massing and its surrounding garden exhibit aesthetic characteristics valued by the community.

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

(Criterion under review)

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.

It has a strong association with the early cotton-growing industry in Queensland in the 1860s; with two important early entrepreneurs George Faircloth and John Ferrett; and with the work of the Sisters of Mercy since 1930.

It is possibly associated with early architect William Wakeling.


Booval House is a two-storey brick house built in the 1850s for George Faircloth, manager of the Bank of Australasia in Ipswich. The builder was William Hancock and the architect was possibly William Wakeling.

In December 1859, Faircloth stated in a testimonial that architect William Wakeling had been engaged by him privately, as well as being engaged for supervision of St Paul's Church. This private commission was most probably Booval House.

The house was completed by at least December 20 1859 when Governor Bowen stopped there for refreshments and a change of clothing at the start of his first visit to Ipswich. It was the first major house in the Booval area.

In the 1850s, Faircloth had invested in Moggill Coal Mine, in collaboration with John Panton, Henry Buckley, Louis Hope and Frederick Bigge. In 1861, the company was wound up after Faircloth was discovered to have misdirected bank funds for the venture.

In the early 1860s, many Ipswich people started cotton plantations to take advantage of a world-wide shortage caused by the American Civil War. Faircloth grew cotton on much of the 40 acres surrounding his house. Adjacent to his land was that of the Ipswich Cotton Company under its chairman John Panton; in 1861, Ipswich Cotton Co had 100 acres under cultivation and exported its first 30 bales in July 1862. However, cotton did not fulfil its early expectations and many companies and individual growers lost money .

Booval House was auctioned in August 1868 under instructions from the liquidators, the Bank of Australasia.

The purchaser was John Ferrett, the former Trustee of Ipswich Cotton Co. Ferrett had opened a coalmine, the Radstock Pit at Woodend in the 1850s and later had an interest in the adjacent Woodend Mine. He also appears to have continued farming to some extent at Booval House.

Booval House was advertised for rent in 1884, the reason uncertain. After John Ferrett died in 1894, control of the property passed to his nephew Harry who was also involved in coal-mining in the Bundamba area, financing the Borehole Mine. In 1896, architect George Brockwell Gill called tenders for a timber extension to the rear of the house and a new iron roof.

Booval House remained in the Ferrett family until 1921 when it was sold to the Catholic Church. After standing empty for several years, it was renovated and reopened in 1930 as St Gabriel's Convent for the Sisters of Mercy. A convent school was built adjacent to the house.

Following white ant damage in 1946, the verandahs were altered and brick supporting columns were built. A brick extension containing a chapel and bedrooms was added in 1969. The number of sisters declined in the 1980s and the house was empty for some time, and the property has changed hands several times since September 1997.


Booval House is a two-storey brick building with a steeply-pitched hipped roof clad in corrugated galvanised iron and with a separate skillion roof over the verandahs on three sides. All of the verandahs have been enclosed and except for some unusual tapered timber columns on the upper level, all of the original architectural detail has been removed.

At ground floor level, the main core of the house is made up of four rooms, a central hallway and a staircase. Large double bi-parting doors separate two of the main rooms, one of which gives access to the rear kitchen wing and service entry. There are two fireplaces, one with marbled paintwork on timber. The chimney caps for these fireplaces have been closed up.

Original skirtings, architraves, french doors and some cornices have survived and are of painted timber in simple design. All of the original ceilings in the ground floor rooms appear to have been replaced, some with vee-jointed tongue and groove boards and some with fibrous plaster c1930. Where not covered by wall-to-wall vinyl and carpet, it is evident that some of the earlier floors have been replaced with narrow-width hardwood. A substantial amount of the early glass in the doors and windows has been replaced with figured obscure 'arctic' glass probably c1950.

The internal staircase is of simple design with a low height cedar handrail supported on square painted timber balusters and a turned cedar newel post. The stair is narrow and steep and contains a half landing.

There is a rear wing constructed of brickwork on the south-western corner and this contains an access manhole and a ladder leading down to an underground cellar approximately 5m by 5m in size. The cellar has wall niches for storage and two metal ventilating ducts leading to the outside air.

The kitchen wing is a single storey hipped-roof timber-frame structure with a large brick fireplace/range at the southern end. No early fitout survives in the kitchen or the scullery/laundry immediately to the south.

The upper level of the main house contains four main rooms generally consistent with the plan form beneath. There is also a room accessed directly from the half-landing of the stair.

The upstairs rooms have tongue and groove vertical joist ceilings and the north west corner room contains a fireplace.

In similar fashion to the ground floor, all rooms have French doors opening to enclosed verandahs.

Throughout the house, the joinery has been painted and the plastered walls are either papered or painted. No early decoration is visible. Most rooms have fluorescent lighting.

Verandahs at the lower level have been enclosed with facebrick walls and banks of louvre windows. At the upper level, the undersill has been clad with fibro and weatherboards and windows of obscure coloured glass extend full length above sill height. Some tapering timber posts remain visible from the inside and there is a triangular pediment placed centrally on the northern facade. The entrance at ground level is secured by means of a contemporary roller shutter door. Parts of the verandahs have been ceiled with ripple iron fixed to provide a fall to an outer gutter under the leading edge of the upper level verandah.

A substantial two-storey brick chapel has been constructed to the north-east of the main building and is linked to the north-east verandahs at both upper and lower levels. The chapel wing has four upper bedrooms, a chapel and sanctuary and internal staircase. All of the architectural features, form and materials are of 1960s origin.

Outbuildings include a rudimentary shed and fernery to the southeast of the grounds and a modern garage on the south-western corner.

The garden contains some major trees, most notably a curving line of cocos palms to the northern garden, mango trees forming a dense screen to the northern adjoining properties and some poinciana and jacaranda trees along the Cothill Road frontage.

Image gallery


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