1919 - Redcliff and Frank Witherspoon

The Dominican Sisters purchased Redcliff to use as a convent in 1919, with a view to opening the school there. At that time the school was registered to Intermediate Standard.

1920 2 4 Dominican Convent Mayfield

"The building 'Redcliffe' was never used as a School only as a Convent, but part of the first floor was used as boarder's accommodation when Senior School was in the Cottage.  A covered way connected Cottage to 'Redcliffe'"   
 (The Blessing and Opening of the School Extensions by His Lordship Bishop Leo Clarke, 26th May 1985.  1985.)

The Cottage was at the other end of the playing field, on Church Street near St. Columban's Church. The Cottage was purchased by St Mary's Convent, Maitland, and leased to San Clemente to use as the school from 1919 until the extensions to Redcliff in 1922 meant that the school could move there. The Cottage can be seen in the aerial photograph from 1971.

Frank Witherspoon originally built the "comfortable and convenient" Redcliff. The house had been completed by July 1891:

"Mr F. Witherspoon, of Newcastle, is now settling in his new home, Redcliff"
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate. 28 July 1891

"Frank Witherspoon was an importer, grocer and general produce dealer, born in Bristol, England in 1835 and left there at the age of 15 to pursue a sea faring life. About four years afterwards he ran away from his ship in Hobson’s Bay, and remained around Melbourne for about five years, then made a trip to England and returned a few months later. He spent more time at sea as a mate on an Australian coaster.

"In 1861 he married and settled in the Hunter River district, where for ten years he was alternately working for the Lambton Colliery Company , dealing on the river.
In 1871 he started a small fruit shop in Blane Street, and shortly afterwards relocated to larger premises.

"In 1878, he purchased a valuable allotment of land and stores and started his importing business, becoming the largest purely retail grocery outside of Sydney. His premises were located opposite the Honeysuckle Railway Workshops at Honeysuckle Point. He was a large owner of property, being the proprietor of the A.J.S. Bank in Charlton Street and other valuable buildings. He was described as an '…architect of his own fortune, never having received any pecuniary assistance whatever, his competence having been attained by strict attention to business.'

"He was married to Elizabeth Anne and had three daughters. His residence was Redcliff in Crebert Street, Mayfield."
Turner, John.  Who was who in the Hunter Valley towns in 1888.  Newcastle, NSW: Hunter History Publications, 1984.

Perhaps Frank Witherspoon named his house after an area of Bristol where he was born - Redcliff. 

"Redcliff Hill is an area which is between the New Cut (a man made canal) and the River Avon and the old city dock area. Its an interesting area with a huge parish church - St Mary Redcliff ... and under the Hill are Redcliff Caves, man made caves which extend right under the Hill and have a bit of a mystery about them - they are only opened once a year!"
Bristol forum.  <http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186220-i479-k776332-Redcliff_Hill_Bristol-Bristol_England.html>, (25/5/07)

"REDCLIFF 3440 1752. Borough 1164x70 (BF, p. 158; BF, supplement, p. 63). On the Somerset side of the river Avon, this was a suburb of Bristol, Gloucestershire (q.v.). It developed in the twelfth century and was held by the Berkeley family."
Samantha Letters, Online Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England Wales to 1516 <http://www.history.ac.uk/cmh/gaz/gazweb2.html>: [Somerset] (last updated 17/11/06). (25/5/07)

Frank Witherspoon owned the house until in 1911 it was purchased by Robert Beveridge. Frank Witherspoon died soon after, in July 1912. In 1916 ownership of the property passed to Emily Jane Beveridge, and she sold it to the Dominican Sisters in 1919.  
History of Redcliff

F Witherspoon Small  F. Witherspoon's house at Mayfield

Type : Hunter Photo Bank
Registration Number : 001 001373
Creator : Snowball, Ralph

Date Created 07/11/1900
Physical Description 1901 Federal Directory: Witherspoon, F., Crebert Street - Storekeeper 1903 Electoral Rolls: Witherspoon, Elizabeth Ann, Mayfield - Domestic Duties Witherspoon, Frank, Mayfield - Storekeeper
Notes Geocode: NC Persons:- M Interior:- N
Location: Mayfield
Inscription `Nov 7th 1900. Witherspoons Mayfield 238' upper left corner back to upper right corner back - pencil.

The Newcastle Cultural Collection. <http://collections.ncc.nsw.gov.au/keemu/pages/nrm/index.htm>, (22/5/07)

 16300592 Small


Redcliffe, Mayfield
Type : Hunter Photo Bank
Subject : Classification Houses

The Newcastle Cultural Collection. <http://collections.ncc.nsw.gov.au/keemu/pages/nrm/index.htm>, (22/5/07)

 Histor1 Small  
 Histor2 Link  
 Histor3 Link  
 Picnic Small Witherspoon employees' picnic at Toronto 

Type : Hunter Photo Bank
Registration Number : 001 001613
Creator : Snowball, Ralph
Date Created 09/03/1899
Physical Description : Report in Newcastle Morning Herald of 10/3/1899 p.3.
Notes Geocode: LM Persons:- M C Interior:- N
Location: Toronto
Inscription `WITHERSPOONS EMPLOYEES PICNIC TORONTO R.S. / 9'3'99' lower left corner back to bottom centre back - ink in reverse

The Newcastle Cultural Collection. <http://collections.ncc.nsw.gov.au/keemu/pages/nrm/index.htm>, (22/5/07)

 Cricket Small

 F. Witherspoon's Employees Cricket Club, winners of the Sargood Cup, Season 1902-03

Notes "The final match for the Sargood Cup and medals held under the auspices of the Newcastle Wednesday Half-Holiday Association was resumed on the Association Cricket Ground yesterday afternoon. Winns batting first compiled 97 runs, Park 26, H. Winn 29, being the principal scorers. Witherspoons requiring 41 runs to win went in to bat and compiled same with the loss of three wickets (E. Hooker 20, H. McGregor 12 not out), thus winning the first competition by 7 wickets and 1 run. Messrs R. Payne and P. Bailey again officiated as umpires and gave every satisfaction. W. Humphries officiated as scorer." (Newcastle Morning Herald 9 April 1903 p7.)

Players and officials in the photograph are: R. Morrison, G. Studdard, W. J. Lynne (Treasurer), J. Burgess, J. H. Pavey, H. McGregor, T. Roe, M. J. Kelly, W. H. Lane (Vice-President), G. Pike (President), M. J. Delaney (Delegate), C. Sweeney, J. B. Tobin, H. H.Trewartha, F. Witherspoon (Patron), E. Kingwell, E. A. Horne, P. Fawcett, E. Hooker, J. Coleman (Captain), W. G. Henderson (Secretary).

Type : Hunter Photo Bank
Registration Number : 345 000210
Creator : Tosca
Date Created : 1903
City Newcastle (NSW) Medium Photograph Physical Description Material copied and digitised through a Library Council of NSW Public Library Development Grant. Subject Classification Cricket Cricket teams F. Witherspoon's Employees Cricket Club Sargood Cup, Newcastle, NSW

The Newcastle Cultural Collection. <http://collections.ncc.nsw.gov.au/keemu/pages/nrm/index.htm>, (22/5/07)

 Tea House Small  

F. Witherspoon, Ceylon Tea Trader, Hunter Street, Newcastle

Type : Hunter Photo Bank
Registration Number : 056 000162
City Newcastle (NSW)
Notes Geocode: NC Persons:- Interior:- N
Location: Newcastle

The Newcastle Cultural Collection. <http://collections.ncc.nsw.gov.au/keemu/pages/nrm/index.htm>, (22/5/07)

 Grocery Small  

F. Witherspoon, Wholesale and Retail Grocery, Blane Street, Newcastle

Type Type Digital Hunter
Registration Number 066 000015
City Newcastle (NSW)

The Newcastle City Council Collections. <http://collections.ncc.nsw.gov.au/keemu/pages/nrm/Display.php?irn=27666&QueryPage=%2Fkeemu%2Fpages%2Fnrm%2FQuery.php>, (22/5/07)

 00100013 Small  

Charleston studios, Hunter Street, Newcastle. 
In left of shot: F. Witherspoon, Wholesale and Retail Grocery

Type Hunter Photo Bank Registration Number 001 00013
Creator Snowball, Ralph
Date Created 06/09/1910 City Newcastle (NSW)

Physical Description : South side of Hunter Street between Perkins and Wolfe Streets showing Green Bros. Jewellers and F. Witherspoon store

The Newcastle Cultural Collection. <http://collections.ncc.nsw.gov.au/keemu/pages/nrm/index.htm>, (22/5/07)

 Plan Of Redcliff Small





Site plan showing Redcliffe and outbuildings

Source: Diocese of Maitland Newcastle Archives


19121891 Small

F. Witherspoon, Grocer and Importer
The largest and Best Appointed Grocer’s Shop in N.S.Wales. Not 2 or 3 articles only; but all our Goods
Retailed at Wholesale Prices.
(Established 1866.)

"F. Witherspoon, Grocer and Importer".  Newcastle Morning Herald.  19 December, 1891.

2721903 Small

Promenade concert in Redcliffe grounds
In the well- appointed and handsomely-illuminated grounds of "Redcliffe," North Waratah, a promenade concert and continental took place last night in aid of the Queen Victoria Cottage homes for Consumptives at Wentworth Falls.

 Newcastle Morning Herald. 27 February, 1903.

Redcliff And San Clemente Small

This is the current façade of the school, showing Redcliff on the left, and the additions of 1922 when it became a Dominican school on the right.

Stitched photo by Carmen Janos, 5/07


Redcliff is often misspelt as Redcliffe - even in articles of the day.  However the spelling Redcliff is still visible etched in the glass over the original front door of the house.



The name of the original house etched in the glass over the door of the original Redcliff.


Redcliff 2015 Small Entry 2015 Small Door Small Entry1900 Small