St Vincent’s Hospital was originally established in 1857 by five Irish Sisters of Charity. The Sisters had come to Sydney in 1838 to help the poor and disadvanta. In that capacity, they nursed victims of the 1844 influenza epidemic and assisted prisoners and their families of the nearby Darlinghurst Gaol.. Three of the Hospital's founding Sisters had trained as professional nurses in France. The hospital established was free to all people, but especially for the poor. The original site for the hospital was in the neighbouring suburb of Potts Point but was moved to its present location in Darlinghurst in 1870 due to demand.
Vincent’s Hospital, 1857. The building, called “Tarmons”, was originally the residence of Sir Maurice O’Connell.
‘Tarmons’ was bought from the O’Connells by Sir Charles Nicholson, co-founder of Sydney University. He sold it to the Sisters in 1856 when he heard they were looking for a suitable site for a hospital, and a permanent home. The purchase was made possible through the activity of the Hon. Mr Plunkett, who had also allowed the Sisters to live for several years in his newly built house in Macquarie Street. St Vincent’s College, which still stands on this same site, began in a small room in ‘Tarmons’ in 1858. The Hospital moved to Darlinghurst in 1870.
Date unknown, c1869-1874
St Vincent’s Hospital, c 1900. (Click on the image to enlarge and again to enlarge further). Note the gas street lamp, the children sitting on the fence (who appear to be barefoot) and the long dress of the female pedestrian.
Further photographs, date unknown but c 1880-1900, by Henry King
The second shows an elargement of the ambulance delivery
St Vincent’s Hospital today
St Vincent’s Hospital Entrance, as depicted by artist Simon Fieldhouse
A word on the crest, from the St Vincent’s Hospital website:
Mother Mary Aikenhead, the foundress of the Sisters of Charity chose the crest and motto for the Sisters of Charity to symbolise the Sister's dedication to serving God.
The cross and the crown are symbols of redemption and eternal life. The letters MA in the centre of the crest are the initials of one of the titles given to the Mother of God Maria Angelorum, Mary Queen of the Angels, the Patroness of the Sisters of Charity. In the Book of Revelation, the Mother of God is depicted with a crown of twelve stars with the moon beneath her feet. Similarly, in the crest, the stars appear above the letters MA and the moon below.