Bishop James Turner
When Bishop Sawyer’s successor, Bishop James Turner and his wife Mary, arrived in Armidale in 1869 there was no official residence. They rented a home on the utskirts of Armidale which was named Bishopsthorpe. The Bishop paid for improvements to the home himself.
When the Bishop moved the house was purchased by the solicitor A. W. Simpson and renamed Meadowfield. Mrs Turner, who had no children, was kind to a young girl, Emily Harriet, daughter of Robert Issell Perrott, a leading landowner, layman and magistrate. Mrs Turner often asked Emily to stay at Bishopsthorpe. In time the Turners legally adopted her.
After Mary Turner’s death in England in 1879, on the Bishop’s return to Armidale, the Diocese purchased an old timber home across the road from the then Armidale Gaol as the Bishop’s residence. The Bishop added a chapel and a large study, and Emily Perrott-Turner, as she was by then known, became his hostess and housekeeper. He named the house St. Cuthbert’s after a chapel in the University of Durham precinct where he had been an undergraduate. While additions were being built, the Bishop and Emily walked each night from Bishopsthorpe to see what progress had been achieved in renovating and extending what they called Moonlight Cottage.
The Armidale Gaol was closed in 1920 and the Teachers’ College was built on the site in 1929. Emily stayed on in a small cottage which she called The Hermitage in the grounds of St. Cuthbert’s until her death in 1943. In time, St. Cuthbert’s was used to house women studying at the University of New England, and then became a private residence.