Guide to the Records of Stanbrook Abbey (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Stanbrook Abbey
Records of Stanbrook Abbey (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1847 - 1890
Collection Number
26 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Letters 1847-55 of Bishop J.B. Polding referring to donations for an Australian seminary and books, vestments for the Australian mission, and plans to establish a Benedictine convent in New South Wales.

Letters 1848-74 of Dame Magdalen le Clerc referring to: establishment of convent at Parramatta named 'Subiaco'; the Benedictine monastery in Sydney; services and festivals; recruitment of novices; destruction of St Mary's Cathedral (1869); Bishop J.B. Polding; Dr H.G. Gregory; and Bishop C.H. Davis.

Letters 1861-62 of Dame Scholastica Gregson concerning Abbot H.G. Gregory.

Letters 1874-87 of Bishop W.B. Ullathorne to Kate Merewether.

Account of voyage of Princethorpe nuns to Australia in 1856.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at Stanbrook Abbey, Worcester, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1964 (AJCP Reel: M2064). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Stanbrook Abbey, Worcester, England. For more information see Stanbrook Abbey (

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2019. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Australia; Australia: immigration to; Benedictines, religious order; Davis, C.H., Bishop; Great Britain; Gregory, Henry, Abbot; Gregson, Dame Scholastica; Le Clerc, Dame Magdalen; Merewether, Kate; Polding, J.B., Bishop; Roman Catholic Church: Australia; St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney; Stanbrook Abbey, England; Subiaco convent, Parramatta, New South Wales; Sydney, New South Wales ; Ullathorne, W.B., Bishop


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 433, p169.

Biographical / Historical

In 1623 nine Englishwomen led by Helen More, a descendant of Sir Thomas More, established the Benedicitine Monastery of our Lady of Comfort of English Dames at Cambrai, France. The Monastery was forcibly closed in 1793 and the remaining 16 nuns emigrated to England in 1795. They first opened a school at Woolton, near Liverpool. In 1807 they moved to Salford Hall, near Evesham. In 1835 the Stanbrook estate near Worcester was acquired. The fortunes of the Abbey were at a low ebb in the mid-nineteenth century, but the Abbey Church was built in 1871 and recruitment improved towards the end of the century.

In 1847 J.B. Polding, Archbishop of Sydney, recruited Dame Magdalen le Clerc from Stanbrook Abbey and Dame M. Scholastica Gregory (sister of Abbot H.G. Gregory) from Princethorpe Priory near Rugby to establish a Benedictine convent in Sydney. The convent was inaugurated in February 1849 on a 150 acre property at Parramatta which was called 'Subiaco'. The nuns did laundry work for St. Mary's Monastery in Sydney and made clothing. A school was opened in 1851 and gradually the convent became more firmly established. In 1853 Miss Walburge Wallis, a former novice of Stanbrook, who, as Mother Walburge was to become Prioress in 1864, went out to Subiaco, followed in 1856 by three nuns from Princethorpe. Dame Magdalen le Clerc died in 1878. The convent was ultimately transferred to Pennant Hills in Sydney.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Letters of Archbishop J.B. Polding, 1847

3 items

Printed circular,signed by Archbishop J.B. Polding (File (i))

Requesting donations for an Australian seminary and books and vestments for the Australian mission, to which is added an undated letter from Polding to the Abbess of Stanbrook, Dame Scholastica Gregson, acknowledging gifts.

Archbishop J.B. Polding (Dublin) to Rev. B. Barber, 10 August 1847 (File (ii))

Plans to establish Benedictine convent in N.S.W.; offer of Dame Magdalen le Clerc to emigrate. (copy).

Archbishop J.B. Polding (Liverpool) to Dame Scholastica Gregson, 6 Oct. [1847] (File (iii))

Consolation on loss of Dame Magdalen.

Series 2. Farewell letter of Dame Magdalen le Clerc, 1847

1 item

Dame Magdalen to Dame Scholastica Gregson and Sisters of Stanbrook Abbey, [1847] (File)

Departure for Australia; gratitude for kindness and edification received in years at Stanbrook.

Series 3. Letters of Dame Magdalen le Clerc (transcribed), 1848 - 1874

1 item

Dame Magdalen (Parramatta) to Dame Scholastica Gregson and other members of Stanbrook Abbey (32 letters), 1848 - 1874 (File)

The letters, a few of which are incomplete, refer to the establishment of the convent (Subiaco) at Parramatta; the house and gardens; the convent school; novices; Archbishop J.B. Polding; Bishop C.H. Davis; Dr H.G. Gregory; Dame Walburge Wallis; the Benedictine monastery at Sydney; English news; services and festivals; mutual friends; requests for books; daily routine; Elizabeth Sconce; the death of Bishop Davis (1854); efforts to recruit novices; arrival of three sisters from Princethorpe Priory (1856); receipt of gifts; return of Dr H.G. Gregor to England; attacks on Archbishop Polding in Freeman's Journal; education of Catholic children in N.S.W.; news from Princethorpe Prior the constitution of the convent; embroidery; the destruction of St. Mary's Cathedral (1865); Golden Jubilee celebrations (1869); music; reconstruction of Cathedral.

Series 4. Letters of Dame Magdalen le Clerc, (untranscribed), Undated

Dame Magdalen (Parramatta) to Dame Scholastica Gregson and other membe of Stanbrook Abbey (9 letters), undated (File)

The letters, some of which are incomplete, refer to English news; Archbishop J.B. Polding; Dr H.G. Gregory; lay brothers at Subiaco; the convent farm; novices; the deaths of Dame Scholastica Gregory (1850) and Bishop C.H. Davis (1854); receipt of gifts; Dame Walburge Wallis; death of Mary Egan in wreck of Dunbar (1857).

Series 5. Letter of Bishop C.H. Davis, 10 September 1849

1 item

Bishop C.H. Davis (Sydney) to his mother, 10 September 1849 (File)

Miraculous recovery from grave illness. (copy).

Series 6. Letters of Archbishop J.B. Polding, 1855

3 items

Archbishop J.B. Polding (Rome) to Dame Scholastica Gregson, 15 January 1855 (File (i))

Meeting of bishops at Rome; use of Australian gold in Papal medals; efforts to create St. Bede a Doctor of the Church.

Archbishop J.B. Polding (Liverpool) to Dame Scholastica Gregson, [11 June 1855] (File (ii))

Journey from Rome; avalanche at Mt Gothard; seasickness.

Archbishop J.B. Polding (Liverpool) to Dame Scholastica Gregson, 22 Oct. [1855] (File (iii))

Difficulty in parting from English friends; spiritual advice.

Series 7. Letter of Bishop J.B. Serra, 1 May [1860]

1 item

Bishop J.B. Serra (London) to Dr Heptonstall, 1 May [1860] (File)

Thanks for picture of Stanbrook Abbey; Serra's visit to Stanbrook.

Series 8. Letter of Dame Scholastica Gregson, 20 November 1861

1 item

Dame Scholastica Gregson (Stanbrook) to [unknown], 20 November 1861 (File)

Relations between Princethorpe Priory and Stanbrook Abbey; Australian Mission.

Series 9. Papers concerning Abbot H.G. Gregory, 19 September 1861 - 27 April 1862

4 items

Dame Scholastica Gregson to [Archbishop J.B. Polding], 19 September 1861 (File (i))

Misrepresentation of Dr H.G. Gregory; suggests petition be drawn up in Australia to be presented to Holy See.

Dame Scholastica Gregson to Benedictine President, 3 October 1861 (File (ii))

Remarks by Australian priests about banishment of Dr H.G. Grego: from Sydney; opposition centred in England rather than Australia Gregory's ill-health. (draft).

Dame Scholatica Gregson to Rev. F. Kenny, 27 April 1862 (File (iii))

Depart of Dr H.G. Gregory from Stanbrook; improvement in his health; hopes he will return to Australia.

Dame Scholastica Gregson to [unknown], [1862] (File (iv))

Parting words of Dr H.G. Gregory; requests letter be sent to Rome on his behalf. (draft).

Series 10. Letter of Father E. Athy, 22 August 1867

1 item

Father E. Athy to [unknown], 22 August 1867 (File)

Voyage to Australia with Archbishop J.B. Polding; enthusiastic reception in Sydney. (Very poor condition).

Series 11. Letters concerning visit of Dame Mary Walburge Wallis to England, 1875 - 14 December 1876

3 items

Dame Mary Walburge Wallis (Parramatta) to Dame Gertrude Dubois, 1875 (File (i))

Visitation by Archbishop R.B. Vaughan.

Archbishop R.B. Vaughan (Sydney) to Dame Gertrude Dubois, 9 March 1876 (File (ii))

Visit of Mother Mary Walburge to England; need for postulants or novices; progress of Roman Catholic Church in N.S.W.

Dame Gertrude Dubois (Stanbrook) to Archbishop R.B. Vaughan, 14 December 1876 (File (iii))

Visit of Mother Mary Walburge; her qualities; difficulty of finding English recruits for Parramatta.

Series 12. Letters of Archbishop W.B. Ullathorne, (copies), 5 May 1874 - 26 December 1887

4 items

Archbishop W.B. Ullathorne (Birmingham) to Kate Merewether, 5 May 1874 (File (i))

Sends printed letter from Jubilarians to Archbishop J.B. Polding; support of Archbishop R.B. Vaughan for Polding; erection of new sees in Victoria. (copy).

Archbishop W.B. Ullathorne to Kate Merewether, 24 December 1884 (File (ii))

Recovery from illness; meeting with J. Henniker Heaton; Heaton' book Australian dates and men of the time; Sir Richard Bourke; Bishop R. Willson. (copy).

Archbishop W.B. Ullathorne to Kate Merewether, 14 April 1887 (File (iii))

Illness; article for Dublin Review on Bishop R. Willson. (copy).

Archbishop W.B. Ullathorne to Kate Merewether, 26 December 1887 (File (iv))

Resignation as Archbishop of Birmingham; article on Bishop R. Willson. (copy).

Series 13. Letter from Princethorpe Abbey, 30 July [1878]

1 item

Sister Mary Editha (Princethorpe) to Dame Gertrude Dubois, 30 July [1878] (File)

Illness of Dame Magdalen le Clerc; deaths of Archbishop J.B. Polding and Dr H.G. Gregory.

Series 14. Letter of Sister Marie des Anges, 1856 - 21 September 1890

2 items

Sister Marie des Anges (Princethorpe) to Dame Benedicta Anstey, 21 September 1890 (File)

Account of establishment of Subiaco Convent; Dame Magdalen le Clerc and Dame Scholastica Gregory; selection by Archbishop J.B. Polding of Sister Marie des Anges and two other Princethorpe nuns in 1856; return to England in 1861. (French)

Account of voyage of the Princethorpe nuns to Australia in (4pp), 1856 (File)