Poles Convent Centenary

Poles Convent FCJ centenary cake

Reverend Mother Philomena Higgins (Fifth General Superior) bought Poles in 1923 and established  a boarding school some 10 miles north of Greater London. Poles was also for a time a novitiate house. One hundred years later, some alumni wanted to mark the anniversary. Joan, a past pupil, writes about the celebration. 

Poles Convent FCJ (situated in Hertfordshire) closed some years ago. It was too small to be able to survive in the current climate when schools are expected to have a multiplicity of expensive facilities. The school was sold in the mid ‘80s and a hotel, called Hanbury Manor, rose in its place. However, had it survived, it would now be 100 years old. So, those of us who attended the school felt that some celebrations were necessary. A group of pupils who arrived at the school in 1958 decided that they would like to visit their last remaining FCJ teacher, Sr Bernadette fcJ, who now lives in Poplar with five other sisters.

A plan was formulated, and, following discussions with Sr Bernadette, we worked on the plan which came to fruition on April 17th. We came from various parts of the country, and some of the attendees discovered, (a) a part of London not previously known to them, and (b) trains with no driver (the Docklands Light Railway)!

It had been agreed that the FCJ sisters would provide sandwiches, and the alumnae (known as Blue Cedars as there was such a tree in the grounds of Poles) would provide cakes. The nuns took their responsibilities very seriously and we were amazed by the spread of sandwiches, scones, and a beautifully decorated centenary cake. The alumnae produced their cakes, and I suspect that there was enough food for double the number of people.


In addition to the group of people who started at the school in 1958, Sr Bernadette had invited other ex-pupils that she was still in touch with. Regardless of which year we had been in, conversations flowed freely. Reminiscing was a major topic of discussion. Inevitably some people remembered things that others had forgotten, and vice versa. So there was a lot of laughter. The visitors were touched by the kindness of all of the nuns. They looked after us and joined us in conversations although none of them (except Sr Bernadette) had met us before. It was a truly amazing afternoon.

Top photo: Sr Bernadette fcJ. Other photos: past pupils of Poles Convent FCJ.

Read about the history of Poles Convent FCJ: