Purchase pays off for Abbey owners

WHEN Gold Coast couple Sonia Hunt and Mark Cains (pictured) saw the Abbey of the Roses for sale on the internet, they knew there was something special about the venue.

The couple was settled at the coast and were only looking at property out of interest.

“It was Christmas Eve and we just happened to be looking on the net,” Mr Cains said. “It caught our eye straight away.”

We came down on January 8, looked around and made an offer that day and it was accepted that day,” he said.

“It was definitely a spur-of-the-moment decision.”

Twelve months on, the couple has not looked back and is enjoying the tree change.

Abbey of the Roses recently won the title of Tourism Queensland best place to get married.

“It was a shock to win that gong but a pleasant surprise,” he said.

Ms Hunt said the lure of Abbey of the Roses for soon-to-be brides was the grandeur of the building.

“It has that fairytale uniqueness about it. People who want a wedding in a castle come here,” she said.

“The option to be able to stay here is appealing to a lot of people.”

The abbey is set to play a part in Warwick 150th birthday celebrations later this month.

The foundation stone of the former convent was laid on August 16, 1891, by the Right Reverend Dr Dunne and officially opened on March 19, 1893, by Archbishop Dunne as the Our lady of Assumption Convent. Further additions were completed in 1903 and 1914.

The magnificence of the former convent is testimony to the 19th century belief that Warwick was to become one of Queensland’s major inland cities.

The convent became the heart of the Catholic community in Warwick, being the home of the Sisters of Mercy who taught thousands of girls during its time as a school and boarding house.

Inside the sandstone walls is a large living space, including grand reception rooms, library, dormitories, imposing halls, chapel with beautiful stained glass, attic and myriad hideaways and prayer rooms for the nuns.

Purchased in 1989 and renamed Sophia College, it provided a base for tertiary education until 1994, when mounting maintenance costs forced the church to sell and it has been privately owned since.

Abbey of the Roses is not only the state’s best place in which to get married, the couple also runs a thriving B and B, and hosts special events.

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