We owe a great debt to our Founders and early benefactors for our 175 years of existence.
The first day in the life our School was July 15th 1847.
Image above – The School Room was the Collegiate School’s temporary home from July 1847 to December 1849. Built behind Trinity Church, it was later extended and then demolished in 1932. Main image – artwork by John Baptist Austin looking from the West End of Hindley Street in November 1849. Trinity Church is in the foreground on the left and the single-gabled School Room next to it.
Every year we have a Founders’ Day Service to give thanks for the group of men that played a role in founding our School. Names of generous early benefactors are also mentioned in the Service.
Their vision of a school for Christian gentleman has led to a great School that celebrates its 175th birthday in 2022.
As the 175th Founders’ Day approaches on July 15th 2022, it is timely to remember some of these Founders and early benefactors to whom our School owes so much.
A study of our School’s history shows that benefactors have been essential to its success.
Augustus Short (1802-1883), was the first Anglican Bishop of Adelaide. He transformed the school which had been started at Trinity Church in Adelaide into the Collegiate School of St Peter, and on 24 May 1849 laid its foundation stone. Short House is named in his honour.
Captain William Allen was a principal Founder and provided most of the funding for the building of Old School House.
Marshall MacDermott was a principal Founder and was a member of the first Council of Governors.
Benjamin Mendes Da Costa has been the School’s major benefactor, but it was over 40 years after his death in 1869 until the Council of Governors gained full control of his estate.
James Farrell’s bequest on his death in 1869 allowed the School to pay off most of its debts and embark on an extensive building and development programme.
George Wright Hawkes was elected a Governor in 1852. He was on the Council of Governors for nearly 50 years.
Other current Senior School Houses are named after George Henry Farr (the school’s second Headmaster – the great pioneering Headmaster), Charles Beaumont Howard (the first Colonial Chaplain), Sir Henry Fox Young (the Governor of South Australia in 1849, who donated 111 acres of land to fund exhibitions and prizes) and Reverend William Woodcock, incumbent at St John’s Church, Halifax Street, in 1849, who was on the first Council of Governors.
Our Founders and early benefactors would not have known that their vision and generosity would lead to one of the finest schools in the world.
Our School is one of six Australian schools that are members of the G30 association of schools along with The King’s School, Paramatta; Carey Baptist Grammar School, Melbourne; Cranbrook School, Sydney; Geelong Grammar School; and Melbourne Grammar School.
Our School has produced many outstanding old scholars and a large number of young men with a strong sense of service to the community.
As we celebrate 175 years, we owe a debt of gratitude to those whose vision and generosity, in the challenging early years of the colony of South Australia, laid the foundations of our great School.
Researched and written by David Docwra
David Docwra retired from St Peter’s College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service and is fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years. David remains connected to St Peter’s College and regularly provides historical articles for the St Peter’s Old Collegians newsletters.