Submitted by jays on 22 January 2014 - 10:58am

This fragmented rosary of cobalt blue and clear glass beads was found by archaeologists under the floorboards on level 3 of Hyde Park Barracks, just under a dormitory window that once had a view out to St Mary’s Cathedral. The rosary can be dated to the period 1862-1886 when the Hyde Park Asylum occupied the top floor of the Barracks. The Asylum provided shelter for aged, ill and destitute women and also provided regular religious instruction. Visiting clergymen brought bibles and religious tracts, and perhaps even rosary beads. The archaeological evidence suggests that Catholic women were segregated from Protestants, the Catholic women occupying the southern dormitories while the Protestant women lived in the northern dormitory. This rosary would have originally had a crucifix attached, where the holder would begin the prayers, the fingers moving along the beads as the prayers devoted to the Virgin Mary are recited. The Asylum women had very few possessions, so this rosary must have been important to its Catholic owner, who we can almost picture standing at the window looking out to St Mary’s Cathedral while holding these beads. One wonders, what was she hoping for in her prayers? 

Photograph Jamie North, 2013
String of blue beads found underfloor at Hyde Park Barracks during archaeological excavations  String of blue beads found underfloor at Hyde Park Barracks during archaeological excavations
Portrait
Hyde Park Barracks
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HPB UF61-63