“At noon yesterday, being the anniversary of the Conversion of St. Paul, a very large number of ladies and gentlemen assembled at Grose Farm to witness the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of St. Paul’s College, by his Excellency the Governor-General” (SMH 26 January 1856 p. 4). On that occasion the Church of England and the very new University of Sydney were well represented along with the Fellows of the College and members of the judiciary, educators and the general public in attendance.
That was 168 years ago, two years after Royal Assent to the Saint Paul’s College Act and two years before the Warden and first students moved in.
The Foundation stone has remained in its approximate location on the southern ridge of the Grose Farm estate but it was not incorporated into any of the buildings. The original ‘Blacket Wing’ accommodation was completed some 50m to the south being ready in 1858 for the first students and the Warden’s family. The dining hall, the kitchens and amenities to the west were ready in 1859.
Today the foundation stone sits proudly at the entrance to the main quadrangle outside the Albert Wing archway. The significant carving on the stone “Jan 25 1856” often goes unnoticed but when visitors realise its significance it becomes a favourite place for photos.
As happened 168 years ago a big ‘three cheers’ to the College on this anniversary day.