Students at the University of Sydney

Residential colleges - the early days

ST JOHN'S COLLEGE

St John’s College within the University of Sydney is the oldest Catholic University College in Australia and was also the first Catholic university college in the former British Empire.

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A brief history

The Act to Incorporate St John's College as a College within the University of Sydney was assented to by the Governor-General on 15 December 1857, and the College of Saint John the Evangelist was founded on 1 July 1858 with the proclamation of the St John's College Act in the Parliament of New South Wales. Its founder, Archbishop Polding, named it after the author of the fourth Gospel.

Its first two students, in 1861, were:

  • Patrick Joseph Healey (1843-1895) who graduated BA in 1863 and MA in 1877 from the University of Sydney. He was a barrister and became the Senior Crown Prosecutor NSW, and served on the Council as a Fellow from 1868-81.
  • William Charles Browne (1942-1916), who became a pastoralist and grazier after University, with large holdings in the Singleton district. He was member of the NSW Legislative Assembly, representing Patrick’s Plains.


Dr John Forrest was the first Rector (1860 - 1874) and the College was officially opened on 7 April 1875.

Women residents were first admitted to the College in 2000.

Today the College provides accommodation for 268 male and female students.


Gallery

In the 1850s
1859

The original plan for St John's College, designed in 1859 by Mr Wardell, but not fully realised when the college was built in the 1860s for financial reasons, image, The Catholic Press, 1 September 1927, National Library of Australia.

The Most Rev Archbishop John Bede Polding in 1867

The Most Rev Archbishop John Bede Polding, image from the 'Illustrated Sydney News', 16 November 1867, National Library of Australia.

In the 1860s
The St John

The St John's Register, dating from 1861, which the first students signed, photo, The St John’s College Weekly Newsletter, 3 March 2011.

In the 1880s
An early photo of St Johns College and dam

An early photo of St John's College, without its southern wing and tower, and dam, photo G3_224_1874, University of Sydney Archives.

1880

St John's College and cows in 1880, photo, 809_049, University of Sydney Archives.

1880

A photo of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, St John's College, Missenden Road and environs in 1880, photo G3_224_0470, University of Sydney Archives.

1885

St John's College in 1885, photo from the 'Australian Town and Country Journal', 16 May 1885, National Library of Australia.

1888

Dr O'Brien was appointed Rector of the College in 1888 and held this position until 1915, photo, Freeman's Journal, 15 September 1900, National Library of Australia.

In the early 1900s
1900

St John's College in 1900, photo G3_224_MF374_0161, University of Sydney Archives.

1902

St John's College in 1902, photo from 'Hermes' Jubilee edition 1902, University of Sydney Archives.

1902

Staff and students at St John's College in 1902, photo nla4767482, National Library of Australia.

c1903

Portrait of Edward Thynne Real with Robert Johnstone Douglas, St John's College ca 1903, photo nla4765181, National Library of Australia.

c1904

Thought to be Robert Johnstone Douglas at St John's College ca 1904, photo nla4767657, National Library of Australia.

1900 - 1910

St John's College 1900 - 1910, photo from Mitchell Pictures, State Library of NSW, digital order no. a116210.

1906

The entrance to the College in 1906, photo, The Australasian, 30 June 1906, National Library of Australia.

1906

The College from the grounds in 1906, photo, The Australasian, 30 June 1906, National Library of Australia.

In the 1910s
1918

Laying the foundation stone of the new wing at St John's College on Saturday 9 March 1918, photo, The Sydney Mail, 13 March 1918, Google News Archive.

In the 1920s
1920

The College in 1920, photo, The Australasian, 8 May 1920, National Library of Australia.

1927

The first lap of the 880 yards Intercollegial championship in May 1927. W H Coop from St John's is running second, and won the race, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 May 1927, National Library of Australia.

1927

St John's College Debating Team, winners of the Intercollegiate Debates, Sydney University in 1927. From left: W H Coop BA (leader), H F Benning and L Stewart Johnstone, photo, Freeman's Journal, 20 October 1927, National Library of Australia.

1929

James Carlton (St John's) winning from E B Buckley (St Paul's) on the left, with H H M Finnemore (Wesley) in the centre third, in the Intercollegiate 100 yards championship at University Oval in May 1929, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

In the 1930s
1930

Deacon (Wesley) on the right intercepting a pass in the inter-collegiate rugby union match against St John's College at Sydney University Oval on 16 July 1930, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 July 1930, National Library of Australia. St John's won by 21 points to 13.

1931

B Compton (Wesley) bowled by K Williams (St John's) in the Intercollegiate cricket match at University Oval on 14 October 1931, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 October 1931, National Library of Australia.

c1935

The Entrance to St John's College ca 1935, photo nla4655501 by Edward William Searl, National Library of Australia.

1936

A view of the rugby union trial match between University and Northern Suburbs in progress at St John's Oval in April 1936, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 April 1936, National Library of Australia.

1936

On Sunday 21 November 1936, a State-wide appeal was launched by Archbishop Kelly to raise £50,000 to complete the southern wing and tower of the St John's College building. The College, when the work was completed, would like the artist's impression above, image from the Sydney Morning Herald, 21 November 1936, National Library of Australia.

1936

There were over 5,000 people at the launch, at which Archbishop Duhig (Brisbane) delivered a special address, photo by Sam Hood from Mitchell Pictures, State Library of NSW, digital order no. hood_13474.

1936

Archbishop Michael Kelly arriving at the launch, photo by Sam Hood from Mitchell Pictures, State Library of NSW, digital order no. hood_13477.

1936

More arrivals, photo by Sam Hood from Mitchell Pictures, State Library of NSW, digital order no. hood_13478.

1936

The main entrance hall in 1936, photo, The Catholic Press, 8 October 1936, National Library of Australia.

1936

A section of the Library in 1936, photo, The Catholic Press, 8 October 1936, National Library of Australia.

1938

The new tower - called the Freehill Memorial Tower - was officially opened by Archbishop Gilroy on Sunday 24 April 1938. A large gathering of clergy and laity attended the public meeting associated with the ceremony and inspected the tower and the Father O'Reilly Memorial Chapel, photo, The Catholic Press, 28 April 1938, National Library of Australia.

1940s
1940

On Sunday 3 March 1940, Archbishop Gilroy blessed and opened the extensions ot the College, which had been completed in 1939. From left: Very Rev Father Thompson (Rector of the College), Archbishop Gilroy, Right Rev Monsignor Phelan and Very Rev Father Murphy (Rector of Newman College, Melbourne), , photo, The Catholic Press, 7 March 1940, National Library of Australia.

Today
St Johns College today

St Johns College today, photo, University of Sydney.

St Johns College today

Photo, sydney architecture website

St Johns College today

Photo, sydney architecture website

St Johns College today

St John's College with Missenden Road in the forefront, photo from sydney architecture website

Information sources