1919 - Nuns purchase Redcliff

The enrolment of the school rose rapidly - from fifty students it "almost trebled its numbers" (source) in a year. The Kerr St house had only "three fine classrooms"(source) and the Dominican Sisters looked for a larger site to accommodate the increase in numbers and cater for expansion. 

The Sisters purchased Redcliff to use as a convent in 1919, with a view to opening the school there in January 1920. At that time the school was registered to Intermediate Standard (the equivalent of Year 9).

1920 01 14 Link Purchased Redcliffe School Reopens On January 27

"The Dominican Nuns, finding their Convent in Kerr street not large enough for their requirements, have purchased the centrally-situated property known as "Redcliffe" at the corner of Havelock and Crebert streets.

"The House and Ground afford extensive accommodation, and a considerable increase in the number of Boarders and Day Pupils is confidently expected."

("Dominican Convent, Mayfield". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, 14 January 1920, pg. 5)

1920 01 14 Link Lately Acquired Redcliffe

"The system of education embraces a regular and graduated course of studies, a thorough knowledge of Christian doctrine, and all the branches of a complete English education. Pupils are prepared for public examinations, including bookkeeping, shorthand, type, also piano, violin and singing"

("Mayfield". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, 14 January 1920, pg. 6)


"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 the 1920s meant that the school could move to the main building.

1971 Aerial Photo Cottage Cropped


The Cottage can be seen in this aerial photograph from 1971.

Frank Witherspoon
, a prosperous grocer, originally built the "comfortable and convenient" Redcliff. There is more about the history of Redcliff here

1927 San Clemente Convent



"San Clemente," Dominican Convent, Mayfield

(Diamond Jubilee 1867-1927. Dominican Sisters: Maitland, 1927)  

 Histor1 Small


Frank Witherspoon's house 


Source: San Clemente Archives

 Histor2 Link


Frank Witherspoon's house 


Source: San Clemente Archives

 Histor3 Link


Frank Witherspoon's house 


Source: San Clemente Archives

 Plan Of Redcliff Small





Site plan showing Redcliffe and outbuildings

Source: Diocese of Maitland Newcastle Archives


Redcliff And San Clemente Small

This is the current façade of the school, showing Redcliff on the left, and the additions of 1920s when it became a Dominican school on the right.

Stitched photo by Carmen Janos, 5/07/2008


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