One of the pleasures of owning the Convent has been making the building more accessible to the public. After all, the local community put so much into building and maintaining the property for many years, however whilst being a home for the nuns and priests it was always so private.
Last weekend, as part of the Kandos Centenary Celebrations, the Convent was open for visitors for two days. This time not just the garden but also the whole Convent, and it was such a highly rewarding experience. It’s beautifully built and deserves to be seen and seems to be highly enjoying a more public profile. Sunday in particular was a little overwhelming with the crowds but I’d estimate we had between 400 and 600 people through the doors, this time more to see the interior than the gardens.
It was a sentimental time as ex-students of the nuns returned with such vibrant memories given the piano lessons and confirmations held at the Convent, which served as a backdrop for photos of generations of townsfolk. Visitors included a nun who was first taught at the school by the nuns and then joined the order and lived at the Convent, a local who had been the resident gardener for so many years, one of the resident priests and a wonderful gentleman who had learnt piano at the hands of the nuns to later become an international pianist.
The stories were fascinating and added so much more to our understanding of the nuns and their relationship with the community. One woman’s great grandmother had learnt that the nun’s were in dire straights during the depression and organised locals to provide a food roster for the nuns, we heard that the nuns ran a lolly shop and sold treats to the children, Melbourne Cup Day was popular with the children as they ran sweeps and sat out the front of the Convent on the grass with the nuns to listen to the race on the radio. Oh, and the priest with the poker machine who gave children coins so they could play it.
Two days of memories, with a few tears and hugs along the way. Many thanks to my friends G and R who manned so many tours through the Convent and also to everyone who turned up. It was a great few days and I hope the visitors enjoyed the opportunity to explore – I know how much I loved having everyone here and hearing stories first hand and I tend to think the Convent was also a little pleased to be able to show another side to the community.