Freeman on Ford, the former Oriental Bank (1866-1884)

The history of the former Oriental Bank and Brigidine Convent

Freeman on Ford a former Oriental Bank and Brigidine Convent, circa 1876. The Bank was built in 1876 and later became the Brigidine Convent of Mt. St. Joseph.

At a glance:

The land was granted to The Oriental Bank on 25 August 1857. The building constructed in 1866 to a design by architect Leonard Terry. (Architect of The Melbourne Club, Lazars, Trinity Chapel-Melbourne University and various other distinguished buildings in and around the city of Melbourne.) It remained the Oriental Bank until 1884. Around 1886 it was purchased by the Rev Dean Tierney of St Joseph’s Church for use as a convent and school by the Brigidine nuns. Dean Tierney paid 1000 pounds for the building.

The Oriental Bank was suspended in 1884 for a number of reasons as per this article in the the local Ovens and Murray Advertiser page 2.

Norman Lawrence, former bank manager of The Oriental Bank until it was suspended in 1884. The photo is dated 1881.

Beechworth back then

On 1st October 1886, four Brigidine nuns left Abbeyleix, Ireland to sail to Australia. After arriving at Williamstown on November 14, 1886, they finally arrived in Beechworth by train on Saturday November 17 1886 to a very enthusiastic public welcome. The sisters immediately set about establishing a convent in the Oriental Bank building. This was the second Brigidine Convent to be established in Australia! (The first being at Echuca, slightly earlier.)

Reverend Mother, Mary Vincent Cummins, found that she was expected to repay the money of 1000 pounds. In December 1886, the Mother Superior began to convert the bank into a convent and school, improvising to the extent that she made an altar out of a luggage case.

Ford Street undated about 1859 with the temporary office of the Oriental Bank (timber one storey building) (Construction work also in Left foreground with workman blurred by movement) State Library of Victoria

The  Bank Chamber, the front lower part of the building facing the main street, was fitted with desks and benches in January 1887. Three of the upstairs rooms were furnished as dormitories and the large garden ran through to Loch Street. In February the boarding and day school for girls opened, but the building’s inadequacies soon become apparent. Mother Superior herself appealed to the parishioners for assistance to build a new convent. Hence, the Sisters took over the permanent charge of St. Joseph’s school in Priory Lane on the 17 January 1887, still in operation today. In the same year they purchased ten acres of land adjacent to the school and stage one of the new convent and secondary school began in 1887.

Norman Lawrence, former Bank Manager of the Oriental Bank and his wife Emma Blanche Debby married 1883

By 1906 the building became the premises of the State Savings Bank of Victoria and remained so until they relocated in 1988. The building was then privately purchased and became a family residence in its entirety. 
In February 2002 the building was purchased by the current owners who have restored this majestic building to its former glory with great detail to its Victorian era. Many original features such as the fireplaces, stair case and ornate cornices have been retained. The building has been sympathetically restored with great attention to detail.
Consequently, the owners have been awarded four heritage awards from Indigo Shire for the many years restoring and adapting the historical building to the highest level and repurposing it to quality accommodation

Norman Lawrance Bank Manager, Oriental Bank Beechworth and family approx. 1865

Terms & conditions

We provide overnight accommodation with a breakfast which is served daily between 8am – 9.30am Check in time is 2.00pm Check out time is 10.30am We reserve the right to change prices without notice.

All bookings must be paid for in full at the time of booking.


All cancellations will incur a $50 cancellation/administration fee.

A cancellation within 7 days of a booking will result in your payment being forfeited in full A cancellation within 21 days of your booking will result in a charge of 50% to the value of the booking plus the administration fee amount being charged.

A cancellation of your booking beyond 21 days will be refunded less our administration fee.


We are an adults only venue and our venue is not suitable for children.


Sorry but we do not accept any animals onto our premises.


We accept Visa & Mastercard which will incur a surcharge of 2.0% American Express & Diners Cards will incur a 3% surcharge.


Any damage to the property will be charged back to the guest at the rate at which it costs to repair.
For example to linen, crockery, floors, coverings, furniture, building, and burns to any furniture or flooring.


We are a smoke free site and as such no smoking is permitted in the bedrooms or outdoor areas.
Please note that any evidence of smoking within the bedroom areas will incur a $500 cleaning charge.

Privacy Policy

Freeman On Ford respects the privacy of your personal information and is committed to ensuring its proper collection, storage, use and disclosure. Under no circumstances will Freeman On Ford sell or make available information to marketing agencies or similar parties who are not involved with Freeman On Ford. The following statement addresses relevant privacy issues for Freeman On Ford.

Information Freeman On Ford collects

Our web server collects the following types of information for statistical purposes about visitors to the Freeman On Ford website:

  • the number of users who visit the website
  • the date and time of visits
  • the number of pages viewed
  • the country or region of users
  • traffic patterns
  • the address of the referring site

All of this data is anonymous and Freeman On Ford will make no attempt to identify users or their browsing activities. The purpose of this information is to evaluate the performance of the website and to improve the content and format for its users.

Visitors to the website provide various kinds of information in several different ways. Some visitors choose to submit personal information through subscription and entry forms, booking forms and requests for more information, either through e-mails, response devices or other methods. Depending on the service you are accessing, you could be asked at various times to provide information including but not limited to, details such as your name, e-mail address or information about what you like and do not like.

When booking accommodation on-line or paying for other services, we may request your credit card number to complete the transaction. Similarly, guests at our B&B and other individuals may provide information to Freeman On Ford.

Freeman On Ford will not collect sensitive information about you such as details of your race, political beliefs, religion or health. However this may be required where we are providing you with specialised services (such as access requirements for a disability and dietary requirements/special needs).

Use of Personal Information

Freeman On Ford uses the personal information collected to provide you with our services and to assist in making your experience with us a satisfying one. Information is also collected to establish and maintain proper business records. Your personal information may also be used by Freeman On Ford to notify you about services or promotions from time to time.

Will your information be given to anyone else?

All personal information collected by Freeman On Ford is only made available to those authorised individuals who need to handle that information for the purposes outlined in this policy. In some circumstances, personal information may also be disclosed outside Freeman On Ford.

For example, we may disclose personal information to third parties to whom Freeman On Ford contracts out specialised functions. In such cases we will require an undertaking from such persons to comply with the privacy principles and do not use the personal information for any purposes beyond the scope of our contract with them.

Personal information may also be disclosed to third parties only for the purpose of completing your transaction with us (for example, your credit card provider), providing the services you have requested (for example booking a tour for you) and for the purposes of associated administration (for example frequent flyer number and expenditure details will be sent to the relevant airline).

Freeman On Ford will also disclose personal information when required by law and may disclose it when reasonably necessary to assist an enforcement body or to lessen or prevent a threat to individual or public health or safety.

All cancellations will incur a $50 cancellation/administration fee.

Third party links on our Site

Other companies, which place advertising or links on the Site, may collect information about you when you view or click on their advertising or content through the use of cookies. Due to the technical operation of the Internet, Freeman On Ford cannot control this collection of information and accepts no responsibility for this collection, use or disclosure. You should contact these advertisers or content providers if you have any questions about their use of the information they collect.

Similarly, there may be links that will let you leave the Site. The use of information and/or privacy provided by the operator of a linked site as to any information you provide in accessing a linked site is in no way subject to this Privacy Policy. Freeman On Ford takes no responsibility for any privacy policies or practices of any web sites accessible from the site, whether or not such practices conform to privacy policies of those sites.


Some websites store information in a small text file, called a “cookie” on your hard disk.

Cookies contain information about you and your preferences. For example, if you inquire about rates and availability, the site might create a cookie that contains the details you entered. Or, it might only contain a record of which pages within the site you visited, to help the site customize the view for you the next time you visit.

Only the information that you provide, or the choices you make while visiting a website, can be stored in a cookie. For example, the site cannot determine your e-mail name unless you choose to type it. Allowing a website to create a cookie does not give that or any other site access to the rest of your computer, and only the site that created the cookie can read it.

No other use is or can be made of the information contained in these cookies, and there is no trace of individual sessions.

Information customers provide

By knowing customer preferences, Freeman On Ford can more effectively and conveniently provide special offerings tailored to the requirements of our customers.

Depending on the service you are accessing, you could be asked at various times to provide information including but not limited to, details such as your name, e-mail address or information about what you like and do not like. When requesting a booking on-line, we may request your credit card number to complete the reservation or your mailing address to ensure delivery.

Visitors to the website may choose to submit information to Freeman On Ford when they elect to:

  • request a brochure
  • request a reservation
  • submit a question or comment via the site’s “Contact Us”

The information you provide when you visit the site is used to enhance the services offered on the site and to personalise other special offers from Freeman On Ford to provide you with products and services that we think will be of interest to you.

Freeman On Ford administers a number of marketing programs. Members of the general public may elect to participate in these programs and will be required to submit personal information through subscription forms, booking forms or requests for more information either through emails, response devices or other methods.

The purpose and usage of information collected

Freeman On Ford will not use your personal information for any purpose unless it reasonably believes, taking into account the need to protect your privacy, that it will not adversely impact your rights to privacy by the use of this information. Your information may be used by Freeman On Ford to enable us to enhance our relationship with you, however it is your decision whether you wish to provide us with the information necessary for this service.

All personal information collected by Freeman On Ford will be used to ensure our marketing programs function properly, both from a functional and operational perspective and for planning and product development, to ensure that our marketing programs are tailored to suit your needs. The personal information collected is fundamental in order for you to participate in the various marketing programs. If you have chosen to receive news and deals online – this will be sent to your nominated e-mail address as well as other e-mails keeping you up-to-date about other products and services. If you provide us with your postal address, you may receive periodic mailings from us with information on new products and services or upcoming events. These offers may be based on information you have provided and on your history with us as a customer.

On termination of your participation in any of the Freeman On Ford programs, your contact details will be noted as closed and your details will be deleted from our databases.

Your rights as a participant in Freeman On Ford programs may include is mailings. These mailings include details relating to you and may include special promotional offers. If you would prefer not to receive these communications, you have the right to “opt out”. A choice to opt out will be included on these occasions. Alternatively, you may write to Freeman On Ford and request that you receive no further information.

Opt Out / Removal from our list

All our email communication with you requires your consent, whether explicit or inferred. The emails you receive will contain details regarding unsubscribing from our database.

If you do not want to receive e-mail or posted offers from Freeman On Ford generally please let us know by sending an e-mail message to [email protected] attention The Freeman On Ford Privacy Officer. Please provide Freeman On Ford with your complete name and address.

If you follow the instructions for “un-subscribing” included as part of Freeman On Ford regular e-mail offers, your name will be removed from the mailing list for that publication/e-mail offer only.

Reasonable steps are taken to ensure the security of personal information from such risks as loss or unauthorised access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure.

A cancellation within 7 days of a booking will result in your payment being forfeited in full A cancellation within 21 days of your booking will result in a charge of 50% to the value of the booking plus the administration fee amount being charged.

Access and Correction

You have a right to seek access to information, which Freeman On Ford holds about you. You also have the right to ask us to correct information about you which is inaccurate, incomplete or out of date.

Please note that in the interests of protecting the privacy of all our customers, if you request details of any personal information held by us, we will need to identify you properly. To do this, we may telephone you or require your current name and address (any former addresses that may assist in identification) and a copy of a form of identification such as a current driver’s licence or passport.

We will assume, unless you tell us otherwise, that your request relates to our current records about you. This will include the personal information about you, which is held on our databases and files. Generally, we will not charge you for our costs of providing access to our current records about you. For legal and administrative reasons, Freeman On Ford may also store records containing personal information in its archives. You may seek access to the records held by Freeman On Ford which are not current records, but if you do so, we may charge you for the cost of providing access.

If you are of the view that personal information about you is not accurate, complete or up to date, please provide our Privacy Officer with your request for correction (contact details are set out below). Any requests for correction will be dealt with promptly.

Complaints and enquiries

Please contact us if you believe:

  • someone has gained access to your personal information, or
  • we have breached our privacy obligations or your privacy rights in any way, or
  • you would like to discuss any issues about our privacy policy

Contacting Freeman On Ford

If you have any questions or comments about this privacy policy or about how we have handled personal information about you, please contact the Freeman On Ford Privacy Officer:

  • by telephone 03 5728 2371; or
  • by facsimile 03 5728 2504; or
  • by e-mail to [email protected] or
  • by letter to Freeman On Ford , PO Box 237 , Beechworth Victoria, Australia 3747