A few days ago I went on a tour of the Convent of Mercy @ Singleton. Sisters of Mercy were founded in Dublin, Ireland, in 1831 by an heiress Catherine McAuley who used her wealth to help poor women and children in distress. Her work blossomed into a religious order which has spread throughout the world. The first Sisters of Mercy to reach Australia arrived in Perth in 1846 and other groups soon followed. Ten Sisters came to Singleton from Ennis, Ireland, in 1875 and convents of Sisters of Mercy spread throughout the Hunter Valley. The Sisters were known for their work in schools, hospitals, orphanages, and later for their missionary endeavours abroad. The Singleton Convent was opened as a “motherhouse” in 1909 and was always cared for as a beautiful home for all the Sisters residing in the Hunter Valley and beyond. Since 1995 the Convent has become known as a beautiful heritage site, open for tours, concerts and other activities. A community of Sisters still lives in a part of the Convent. The atmosphere is marked by peace and tranquility and an atmosphere of hospitality. Visitors will hear the story of the Sisters of Mercy and walk through their unique and beautiful home. There is much to enjoy. Within the buildings are treasured memories and marks of a style of life no longer appropriate for modern religious women . The buildings also bear witness to the culture and wisdom of the remarkable women who built them. The buildings and grounds are spacious, generous, beautiful. Cedar and stained glass, wide verandahs and cloisters, covered walkways and delicate lattices combine to create elegance permeated with warmth.
There were some exceptional illuminated addresses in the museum, in which I am personally interested. Jenny, our guide, knew her stuff and verbally painted a picture of a beautiful and unique community. The main chapel took my breath away! The tessellated tiles were stunning, the paintings and the marble altar, all crafted and imported from Italy, exquisite. Thoroughly enjoyed the experience!!