Ursulines travelling to Henley


Recently, Sister Elizabeth found this article among her papers and passed it on to me, Sister Katharine. For those interested in the history of the Ursulines in England, I am sharing this with you. The reference to the author George Orwell is also of interest.

From the parish priest in Henley:

According to the records from the Ursulines du Havre the following Sisters left Le Havre and came to Henley on September 6, 1904 for another example of this exodus in the same month. Coincidently, that group came from Boulogue-sur-Mer): Mere Marie du Sacre Coeur, Mere St Joseph, Mere MJ de Chantal and M St Vincent de Paul.

They were sent to a small house/refuge (asile) that had been found in Henley. They were received in Henley by M Marie Gonzague and Mere de la Presentation who had gone ahead some months earlier. Four other sisters were sent to Wimbledon in the same September. Two years later the four came to Henley: Mere M de la Croix, Mere St Louis, Sister St Genevieve and Sister Ste Agnes. On October 2nd the record also says that, following the official closure [in France] Reverend Mere Superieure, M. M du Sacre Coeur and Mlle B de Buigne. M M St Sacrement joined the community.

They ran a school for borders and day pupils, gave private tuition in French to adults, as well as giving lessons to the children at the parish school. Orwell was, I think, living in Western Road at the time and almost certainly walked the few hundred yards to the convent.

The information is held in the Diocesan Archives in Angers (31 bis Quai du roi de Pologne 49100 and was sent to me by Sister Marie Andree Jegou.

The records show that they left Henley on August 26, 1913 to run a refuge for the protection of young girls in Paris. They were expecting a boarding school!

The report of the move may be significant. It states that the Rev. Mother Superior had a project to return to in France and had made acquaintance with the Abbe L’Enfant Cure de St Antoine in Paris. It includes a comment that some of our English people joined them in October. It seems likely that Orwell’s sister Marjorie was one of those pupils.

School attended by George Orwell