St Peter's College Mission

St Peter's College Mission

The idea that a public school should sponsor a mission among underprivileged inhabitants of a city had begun in England but had not been introduced in Australia. Archdeacon C.S. Hornabrook proposed a plan for St Peter’s College Mission, supported by the Reverend H. Girdlestone, who was headmaster of St Peter’s College at the time.

The mission was founded in 1908 and succeeded to such an extent that by 1911 it needed a building. Land beside the church was bought, and in July 1912 the foundation stone of the mission hall was laid by the Reverend Girdlestone. During the Depression the mission distributed welfare to those in need.

Educated at St Peter’s College, C.S. Hornabrook began his career in an architect’s office before travelling to England and entering the ministry. He was ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1890. When he returned to Australia he went to New South Wales for several years. He returned to Adelaide as curate of St John’s for two years between 1892 and 1894.

Fourteen years later, in 1908, while Archdeacon of Mt Gambier, Hornabrook was appointed missioner of St Mary Magdalene’s (built by St John’s parish). It was during this second period of involvement with the church that he worked zealously to extend the mission's activities.

Hornabrook was backed by past and present boys of St Peter’s College when he suggested to the headmaster, the Reverend Girdlestone, that St Mary Magdalene become the college’s mission. Only too keen to support the missionary activities, the college’s involvement soon saw a flood of donations. Because there was only a small church and a small rented cottage on the site from which to conduct general welfare and relief work, a purpose-built mission hall was built. An anonymous gift of £1000 helped construction along.

When built, the mission also provided a free day school kindergarten with free meals for poor children. It ran clubs for adults, girls and boys, as well as a troop of Scouts and Guides. Its removal to the Elizabeth region in 1957 reflects demographic changes in the metropolitan area during the 20th century.

The building is currently used by the Department of Education.


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Architecturally, the building is mainly notable for its unusual grey brickwork contrasting with the red brickwork of the dressings. Together with St Mary Magdalene’s Church, it is a prominent feature in Moore Street.

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Images of St Peter's College Mission

  • St Peter's College Mission, 2014
George Soward
Building materials
Architectural styles
3 Federation Period (c. 1890–c. 1915), 3.7 Warehouse
1912 -
Architecture and design features
George Soward, arched parapet, arched windows, grey brick, plinth, quoins
Engineering features
South East Corner
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
C S Hornabrook
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Religious, Meeting place
AS2482 classification
15500 - Religious Building
Public Access
Business/trading hours
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5802/771 F182503 A851
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA classified
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
6.3 Worshipping
6.3.2 Church schools
7.1 Schools
7.1.2 Pre-schools and Kindergartens
Reverend H Girdlestone
Australian Curriculum references
Year 6: Australia as a Nation


  • MLSA, Historical photographs (Town Acre 448), Church cutting book; Price, A.G., The
  • Collegiate School of St Peter 1847-1947, 1947, p. 39.

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