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Convent of the Sisters of Mercy, Perth

Sisters of Mercy Chapel

Perth Sisters of Mercy

Perth Sisters of Mercy

Perth Sisters of Mercy

Perth Sisters of Mercy

Name of institution Convent of the Sisters of Mercy
Type of institution Roman Catholic Convent
Street Address Victoria Square
City Perth
State Western Australia
Postcode 6000
Country Australia
Name of building Convent of the Sisters of Mercy
Name of room Chapel of the Immaculate Conception
Dates of the building 1924
Architect’s and builder’s names E. LeB. Henderson
(also architect of St. Joseph's Church, Subiaco)
Special architectural features Built in red brick, the Chapel’s architectural style was unique at the time to the Australian environment and climate.  The aisle ceilings are constructed in the groined and vaulted style of early English or 13th century Gothic.  The ceiling of the nave is half groin, vaulted with richly moulded panels. The Chapel still retains its monastic setting.  In the early days, the Sisters prayed the “Prayer of the Church”, consisting of Psalms, hymns and prayers, were said by alternate sides, hence the stalls facing each other. The stalls are of polished jarrah; work carried out by Ahern’s Ltd.
Special fittings The altar, statue pedestals and sanctuary floor are of white Italian marble, carried out to design by Wilson, Gray and Co.  The two small statues on the altar were magnificently sculptured in Italy for the purpose.  The adoring angels, also in Carrara marble, were executed in Italy.  The credence is designed into the wall of the sanctuary.  The ceilings and ornamental plasterwork were originally done by R. Tindale, modeller and were of excellent workmanship.  The Sacristy is complete with furniture in oak with accommodation for all accessories.
Other location information The Chapel is approached by a flight of steps to a large porch on the west end, and has three other approaches from the Convent verandah and balcony by means of gangways-the centre one being surmounted by the belfry.  The bell was specially cast at Metters’ foundry, and is of a very pleasing tone.

The murals by Fra Angelico, depicting the Coronation of Mary, were the work of a crippled Italian nun who painted the work on separate canvas segments.  When in Rome in the early 1930s, Mother Brigid Mc Donald purchased them for the Chapel.  They were installed in the dome in the 1940s by D C Perrott. 

Other noteworthy features of the Chapel are the statues of Our Lady and St Joseph purchased in Dublin by Mother McDonald.  In the main porch is the painting of Murillo’s Immaculate Conception, copied by a French artist, P. Michel, Paris, under the patronage of one of the Popes, it seems, or so the presence of the Papal Coat of Arms seems to testify.

The two oil paintings at the back of the chapel are:-
    The Unbelief of Thomas
    The Ridiculing of Christ by the Soldiers.

From the markings on the back of the canvas both were painted in 1845 and of Spanish origin.  However little is known of their early history or of how they came to be in the possession of the Sisters of Mercy, Perth.
Name of contact Annie Q Medley
Mailing Address PO Box C114 East Perth 6000
Telephone (08) 9325 4155   
Other contact information Curator of Cultural Collections  
86 Victoria Square
Mobile 0438 633 539
Previous organ(s)
Date of previous organ None
Detail of previous organ
Dates when key work has been undertaken
Dates of any moves that have taken place
Variations from original design of organ
Information on previous organ
Information about comparable instruments to previous organ
Present organ
Type of installation Gallery shelf
Case description Two towers and three flates
Placement in room Rear gallery
Builder's name W.L. Roberts Ltd., Adelaide
Opus number 82
Date of completion/installation 1926
Construction materials Jarrah
Number of manuals Two (2)
Key compasses C-c3
Number of keys 61
Key material
Pedal compass C-g1
Number of pedals 30
Pedalboard type
Pedalboard material
Type of chests
Type of key action Electro-pneumatic
Type of stop action Electro-pneumatic
Couplers Swell to Great, Swell Octave to Great, Swell Suboctave to Great,  Great and Pedal combinations coupled, Swell Octave, Swell Suboctave,  Great to Pedal,  Swell to Pedal.
Tremulants Swell
Accessories    3 thumb pistons each manual
toe pistons to swell and pedal
full organ reversible toe lever
Console type Drawstop, 45 degree jambs
Stop label material
Placement Detached, facing organ
General design
Playing aids Swell shoe
Divisions    GT, SW, PED
Wind pressures
Stop list
Open Diapason 8' Metal
Hohl Flute 8'
Diapason 4'
Chimney Flute 4'
Twelfth 2 2/3'
Fifteenth 2'
Cornopean 8' A
Violin Diapason 8'
Lieblich Gedeckt 8'
Viola da Gamba 8'
Viole Celeste 8' TC
Gemshorn 4'
Flageolet 2'
Mixture 19-22 II
Bassoon 16' A
Cornopean 8' A
Clarion 4' A
Harmonic Bass 32' Der
Subbass 16' B
Bourdon 16'
Octave 8' C
Bass Flute 8' B
Octave 4' C
Bassoon 16' A
Cornopean 8' A
Clarion 4' A
Total number of speaking stops 26
Total number of ranks 17
Total number of pipes
Dates when key work has been undertaken on current organ Originally built by W.L. Roberts Ltd. as a 15 stop organ with tubular-pneumatic action at a cost of  £1,194.
The original stoplist was:
Great Organ:
No. 1. open diapason, 8ft..' 61 notes;.
No. 2. hohl flue, 8ft., 6l notes;
No. 3. dulciana, 8ft.. 61 notes;
No. 4. principal. 4ft..1 61 notes;
No. 5. lieblich flute. 4ft.. 61 notes.
Swell to great.

Swell Organ:
No. 1. Open diapason. 8ft.. 61 notes;
No. 2. Lieblich gedact, 8ft., 61 notes:
No. 3. viol d'gamba, 8ft.. 61 notes;
No. 4. viox celeste, 8ft., 54 notes;
No. 5. gemshorn, 4ft. 61 notes;
No. 6. oboe 8ft.. 61 notes.
swell octave,
swell -sub. octave;

Pedal Organ:
No. 1. harmonic bass, 32ft.;
No. 2. sub.- bass. 16ft.;
No. 3. bourdon, 16ft, 18 pipes from great 3;
No. 4, bass flute, 8ft.. 18 pipes from. No. 2.
great to pedal,
swell .to pedal.

Accessories: Manual pistons. 3 to swell organ, 3 to great organ; pedal pistons, 3 to swell organ /(duplicate to manual pistons). 3 to great organ (duplicate to manual pistons); 1 to great to pedal (on or off). Hitching pedal, grand organ; balanced crescendo pedal for swell, organ; detached console and organ bench; electric motor and Peco blower; tubular pneumatic action. applied throughout.

Electrified with additional coupler 1950's Paul F. Huffner.
Rebuilt 1983 F.J. Larner & Co.  Great chorus replaced. new upperwork added, reed unit installed to the Swell.
Restored 1999 Pipe Organ Builders and Services.  Chests, stop actions and regulators attended to, no tonal changes.
Dates of any moves that have taken place to current organ None
Information on current organ The pipe organ was made possible by a donation of £1200 from Miss McArdle-a generous benefactor of the Sisters of Mercy.
Comparable instruments to current organ
Current status In good condition 2008
Assessment of organ
Other organs by this builder
(original locations)
Christ Church Anglican Church, Claremont
Perth College, Mount Lawley
St. Andrew's Uniting Church, Perth City
Wesley Church, Claremont
Wesley Church, Perth City
Photographs Photographs by Bruce Duncan
Technical documents 
General documents

Please click to read the article

Supporting information Organs and Organsists, The West Coast Story.  OHTA 2004
Document control Original entries J R Elms, OAM, Gazetteer of Western Australian Pipe Organs, 1971, 1999,2003 and 2004.
This entry D B Duncan 16 November 2008.
Contact information updated 08 April 2010 with detail from Sr Joan Smith.
Updated specification from Patrick Elms 04 January 2011.
Contact details updated 12 January 2013 by Sr Joan Smith.
Contact details updated 18 July 2014 by Annie Q Medley
Historical information sourced by Dr Andrew Gardner March 2016