1876 - 1956







John Cyril Hawes
John Cyril Hawes



John Hawes was born in Richmond (near London, England) on September 7th 1876. His father, Edward was a church warden for the Church of England.

After completing his schooling, John started training as an architect with the firm of Edmeston and Gabriel.

After completing his architectural training John did some work in England before going overseas to the Bahamas. He began to question his association with the Church of England and started thinking about Catholicism as an alternative.

He left Long Island for Nassau in 1911 and soon afterwards left Jamaica for New York where he finally decided to leave the Church of England and convert to Catholicism.

After returning to England for 2 months, Hawes left for Canada in June 1911. After 6 months trying to find some work to settle in to, John got word that his mother was seriously ill so he once again returned to England.


He next visited Malta and Rome where he completed his training as a Catholic priest. (Having originally been trained as a clergyman for the Church of England he was able to complete his Catholic training in 3 years instead of the usual 4 years.)

Hawes originally wanted to go back to the Bahamas but was refused a position there. It was at this time that he met Bishop Kelly , the first Bishop of Geraldton in Western Australia, who was in Rome recruiting novices to come and work in W.A.

When he completed his studies in Rome, Hawes travelled to Milan, Paris and then back to London to see his parents before leaving for Australia in October 1915. Hawes was 39 when he arrived in Fremantle and almost as soon as he set foot in W.A. he was involved in the planning for a new cathedral in Geraldton.

Bishop Kelly initially placed Hawes at Mt. Magnet and although John had some experience with hot weather in the Bahamas he was totally unprepared for summer in the Murchison. Hawes wrote:

'I have mass daily at six, but after breakfast it gets too hot to do anything but alternately drink out of the water bag and lie down in the bath.'

John was recalled to Geraldton in 1916 to begin preparations for the building of the new cathedral. At this time he took over responsibility for the parish of Mullewa and was also responsible for Yalgoo. In was 1920 before Hawes left Mullewa for an extended period of leave and travelled via the eastern states to New Zealand, Panama, Havana, New York and finally back to England.

Bishop Kelly died in 1921 and it was prior to this John had been asked to design some new extensions to what is now known as St. Mary's cathedral in Perth. The plans progressed to a point where the building was to be completely re-modelled but Bishop Kelly's replacement (Richard Ryan) did not like Hawes' plans and backed by other Irish clergy a rather ugly gothic design was chosen instead.

In 1922 all practising architects were required to be registered in W.A. and John along with most other architects working in the state gained his formal registration papers at this time. (He was to let the registration lapse in 1930 despite continuing to work as an architect for the church.)

After designing and working on a small church at Yalgoo, John turned his attention to the changes to the cathedral in Perth. He went to London in November 1922 to arrange for materials for the cathedral and was not to return until May 1923. It was during this time that opposition to Hawes' design emerged and because John was not on the spot, he lost control of the project and sadly Perth did not receive the benefit of his inspired design for the new building.

Ryan also interfered with Hawes' work on the Geraldton cathedral and during his tenure John almost gave up hope of ever getting his vision for the building realised. When Ryan finally left in 1926, John was once again able to re-gain control of the project. The third Bishop of Geraldton (James Patrick O'Collins) was appointed in 1930 and in him John found a much more sympathetic supporter for his architectural work.

After working on a large number of buildings for the church in Western Australia (and drafting designs for some that were never built), John Hawes returned to the Bahamas in 1939. Although Hawes had left West Australia for good in 1939 he continued to work on designs for buildings in the state but once he was no longer here few of them would end up being built.

Work done by John Hawes in Western Australia

Bindoon - Christian Brothers College
Carnamah - Church of St. Andrew
Carnarvon - Church of St. Mary Star of the Sea
Geraldton - Francis Xavier Cathedral, St. John of God Convent, The Hermitage, Church of St. Lawrence, Nazareth House, Private dwelling.
Melangata Station - Homestead.
Greenough - St. Peter's altar design
Kojarena - Church of St. James
Morawa - Church of the Holy Cross.
Mullewa - Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, School building
Nanson - Convent and school church Our Lady of Fatima
New Norcia - Hostel (alterations),
Northampton - Sacred Heart Convent, Church of St. Mary in Ara Colei
Perenjori - St. Joseph's.
Tardun - Christian Brothers Agricultural school, Pallottine Monastery, St. Mary's convent
Utakarra - San Spirito Chapel
Wiluna - Our Lady of Help Church school
Wonthella - St. Patrick's church hall
Yalgoo - St. Hyacinth.




1876 - Born September 7th.

1893 - Articled to architects Edmeston and Gabriel in London.

1897 - Hawes completes his training and starts work as an architect..

1898 - Created a scale model of a church for the Royal Academy summer exhibition.

1899 - Commissioned to design a church for Bishop Hornby at Gunnerton in Northumberland.

1903 - Ordained as an Anglican priest.

1903 - Curate at the Church of The Holy Redeemer in Clerkenwell until 1906.

1906 - Went to Caldy Island in South Wales.

1909 - John goes to the Bahamas.

1911 - Goes to New York and converts to Catholicism.

1913 - Enteres the Beda College in Rome.

1915 - Ordained as a priest.

1915 - Arrived in Geraldton in November and began working on may designs for church buildings in the state.

1937 - Received the Papal title, monsignor.

1939 - Went to England and then back to the Bahamas where he continued to design buildings.

1956 - Died at St Francis Hospital, Miami, Florida, USA on June 26th.


Links to more information:


Hawes, John Cyril (1876-1956)

John Hawes

Monsignor Hawes Heritage




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