The Farm

Inside an abandoned former catholic girls farm/’rehabilitation unit’ I visited in mid 2013. Founded by a French sisterhood in 1953 – “the girls who came into the care of the sisters often had problems that could not be resolved in their normal environment and needed the loving care of others to restore their sense of self-worth.” The first residents stayed at the ’13’-room Manor built by its previous owner- and over the years the Catholic order embarked on a building program that included a 25-girl dormitory, two-story working/training block, visitor accommodation and sports facility. At its peak the farm was home to 70 girls. The last building was an expanded convent for the growing number of sisters at the facility. At it’s peak there were allegedly up to 50 nuns in the convent- that’s nearly 50/50. Rumours of fear and cruelty have been whispered about the place for years. The farm/borstal/school/convent was finally closed in the early 80’s.

An excerpt from a personal testimony: “It would take me a whole book to tell you about my life there. I was there from 1959 – 1963, it was a Convent for girls that had differences with their Parents. It was not a Borstal. The Nuns did their very best and they were very strict and had very high standards. If you proved that you were being a very good girl and conforming to expectations then you had the privilege of cleaning and cooking breakfast for the Nuns up at their Convent where they lived with Mother Superior.”

“On site was the Convent, a Chapel, Sewing factory, School, the Virginia Block where the girls lived and another building across from there also where the girls lived, and a hall down the back. It was all situated on a farm. The night Nun who was on duty always stood outside our dormitories saying her rosary until we fell asleep. Life was a lot tougher in those days and we had nothing, anything that we strived for we had to work very hard to get. No work, no money no hope, that’s where we came from. Only one very bad and evil nasty Nun lived there, Mother Aidin. All the girls hated her, she kind of emotionally tortured you very slyly so the other Nuns didn’t catch her and she was good at it.” 


4 thoughts on “The Farm

  1. Hey Fergus we have bought the Farm. I have checked out you work and it looks great. Contact if you want to film

  2. Great photos Fergus.

    This property has now been sold to folks who have a genuine desire to rehabilitate it and put it to some constructive social use. They’ve asked me to help document that process. This isn’t a commercial enterprise. As a veteran film maker I’m very interested in the stories of the place from people who lived there. I.e the perspective of girls who went through MC. Would greatly appreciate any help facilitating such contact. I can be reached at 04 9733769, 0211352176, My web site is Would love to hear from you.

    Best wishes, Costa Botes.

  3. Are you still writing the book on Marycrest School for Girls? I have read what was said about it and as far as I know nothing like your facts ever happened. Why do you call it a Farm? Back in the days Marycrest was beautiful the nuns lived in the huge house. Girls lived in the separate building in the dormitories. The chapel,the swimming pool, or the fish pond are mentioned. Mary crest was not a prison nor a farm.I know lots of girls who were there.

    1. Hi Diane, thanks for your comment. I originally called this post “The Farm” to protect Mary Crest from more vandalism. Now that Mary Crest is with new owners and protected I feel it is safe to name it. I don’t write the book/facts on Mary Crest- they have come from the very few press articles written. I cannot verify all information- the Sisters of the Good Shepherd won’t either. I have merely posted this on my website to create a discussion- as it duly has. Great to hear your experience at Mary Crest was a pleasant one, but as you can see from other commentators it wasn’t the same for everyone.

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