School History

San Clemente was founded by the Dominican Order of nuns in 1916 in a building in Kerr Street, Mayfield. In 1919 following the purchase of property formerly known as "Redcliff", "a stately home in spacious grounds", the school was moved to its present site and continued as a secondary school for young ladies under the administration of the sisters of St. Dominic.  

During the sixty years from 1916 San Clemente High School, as both a boarding school and day school, became well known for the ladylike behaviour of its students and for the high standard of achievement of its graduates in both civic and business affairs.

At various times the buildings were modified and extended to accommodate the growing school population.

In 1976 San Clemente High School became the first Catholic High School in the Maitland Diocese to be staffed entirely by lay people.

Another milestone in San Clemente's history was reached in 1983 when boys were enrolled in Year 7. 

Basilica Small

San Clemente is named after the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome, a church built in 1108 on church ruins dating back to the first century AD.  The present Basilica has been under the care of the Irish Dominicans since 1667, when Pope Urban VIII gifted it to the persecuted and exiled Irish Dominican Fathers.



Early history of site and surroundings


1801 to 1913 - the site from the arrival of Europeans - "In those days Newcastle boasted of 7 streets with 84 houses"



"The early days" from the Mayfield Jubilee Celebrations Souvenir booklet

 50 Years Of Progress Small


1916  - detailed article about the beginning of the convent and school. - "On the Feast of All Dominican Saints, 9th November, 1916, His Lordship Dr Dwyer granted to the Community of St Mary’s, West Maitland, the option of taking up a new Convent at Mayfield"

 First Nuns Link

1917 - San Clemente was founded by the Dominican order in a weatherboard building in Kerr St., Mayfield - "The school opened that morning, April 16th, and 50 children were in attendance"


 San Clemente Link

1919 - The Dominican Sisters purchased Redcliff, the house on the present site on the corner of Crebert and Havelock Streets.  The original Redcliff site of 7 acres was owned by Frank Witherspoon, who established his grocery business in Newcastle in the early 1860s.

Redcliffe Link


1922 - alterations and additions subsume Redcliff, and the school moved to its new site, as a boarding and day school for girls. 

 1922 Link


1927 - article about the school - "a community of ten with three hundred pupils"

 1928 Link


1930s photographs

1934 Link


1940s photographs

Junior Boarders Linkl


1948 - opening of the extensions which began in 1947

 1948 Link

1948 School Prospectus

"The equipment is modern throughout, having excellent electric light service, including electric bath-heaters, etc., while the spacious class-rooms and dormitories are well-lighted and well ventilated."

 Prospectus Crest Link


1950 - Mayfield jubilee and description of St Columban's church and Mayfield schools

 St Clements Link


1950 School Report 

“The Commercial Course, always well patronised, includes Book-keeping, Typewriting and Shorthand, all of which prepare the pupils for the positions they hope to obtain on leaving school.”

Report Link


1950s photographs

 Histor26 Link


1960s photographs

1969 Link


Students' photographsdate unknown (between 1948 and 1970)

Save0040 Link

1967 - Golden Jubilee program with the school song:

"Sing we San Clemente's praise  
Guardian of our girlhood days  
Teaching true and faithful ways  
Salve San Clemente!"

1967 Link


1970 - The Library, two classrooms, a bookhire room and an art room were added.

 1971 Link


1974 - St Columban's Church Golden Jubilee - including timeline of the parish and the schools


1976 - the last four teaching nuns retired - here is a list of all the Dominican Sisters from 1917 to 1973             

1977 - San Clemente became the first Catholic High School in the Diocese of Maitland to be staffed by laity.             

1978 - the School Chapel was fitted out and opened.


1980s - the school prefects and Yearbooks                                 


1983 - Boys were enrolled for the first time

1984 - Construction of four classrooms, three store rooms, one cleaner's store and stairs.

1986 - Transfer of a five module demountable from Aberdeen

1990 - Earthquake repairs after the 1989 Newcastle earthquake

1993 - St Dominic's Centre for Hearing Impaired Students relocated to the site adjoining San Clemente

2000 - The School Website was first published.

The Internet Archive has archived the changing site from February 10 2001 onwards, first at the original URL, then from 2009 at the present URL.

To look at the websites at different dates, select the month and year from the icons top right of the Internet Archive screen.

2001 02 10


2002 - Refurbishment of two science laboratories           

Link Mvc 002F


2002 - Building of the shelter

1000 Link


2005 - Leadlight window

Img 0304 Link


2007 - Uniform change

Old Sports Uniform


2007 - Development application for extensive additions and renovations goes to council

A01 Combined Elevation And Site Plan


2008 - Building - extensions and renovations

 W 09 03 0501


2009 - New Library

Img 2534


2009 - Opening and Blessing of Extensions

 Open Day 049


2009 - Building Stage 2

 First Floor Refurbishment

2013 - An Additional Campus Unit was established in conjunction with St Dominic's enrolling students in Yrs 7-10 who have a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or moderate cognitive disability.  In 2016 this was moved to St Dominic's exclusively.



2015 - Launch of the House system 

 Img 5813


2015 - Renovations to computer rooms C2 and C4        

 C2 3


2016 - New Crest, Mission, Vision and Values launched 


2016 - Building grant for a Hall

 2017 05 04 External View 1

 - Celebration of our Centenary!

Pillars 2

2017 - Aerial photographs


2018 - Building the Hall

Img 2837

2020 - Renovation of the facade

2020 05 Facade 1


Alumni's Stories - stories of ex-students and teachers, from the 1920s onwards



The Principals from 1917 to today