"Caterpillars, bees and porridge"

A review of The Sacred Heart Convent by Fiona written on Sunday 12th of February 2017


The boarding section definitely didn't close in 1953 because that's when I went there as a 4 year old. It was weekly boarding but because I cried so much the headmistress told my mother to "just leave me there" as "I'll get used to it". I was utterly miserable and the nun who 'cared' for the boarders turned me upside down and walloped me every day. With hindsight I think that teaching and then having to look after children evening and nights was probably driving her to distraction.and that she was taking her bad temper out on us. I can distinctly remember how much she physically hurt me though, and I know I screamed.

Many boarders did not stay so the numbers fluctuated. By the time I was 11 there were just 3 boarders, and they officially stopped boarding in Sep.1960. Apart from boarding, I actually liked the school bit. There was a long winding path up to the 'dining room' ( used to be a nursery) and we had to walk through bushes that held bees nests. As a boarder I was used to frequenting the path and was used to getting stung. We used to hunt for dock leaves to take way stings. We had porridge for breakfast about 90% of the time. One girl told us she put it in a hanky, then put it in her knickers while she made a dash for her suitcase to leave it in there—her mother found a week's supply of porridge once, and generously supplied her with her father's large hankies and a small bag to help her.I gather she hated porridge too. I thought she was very lucky to have such sympathetic parents! One thing I did enjoy was collecting caterpillars. They were everywhere. I took in an old tin and stuffed it with 'suitable' leaves before filling it with a varied sample of caterpillars. I was in trouble once when a nun came to change my bedding, and she found my tin under my pillow.apparently she opened it and ran screaming from the room. At least it gave the other nuns some amusement.

I remember we slept in the school building during winter because it was so cold, and moved 'down the hill' to a large detached house for summer. There was a tiny door in a wall along the path which the nun unlocked on rare occasions and we would be required to collect apples and pears from the trees.

I remember the nuns very much as 'warders'

because of all the keys they carried.they sort of jangled along the corridor ( though possibly their crucifix was included in the sounds?)

And the place, free of day girls at weekends ( boys were allowed up to age 7) was silent, and smelt of


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The Sacred Heart Convent

Map showing The Sacred Heart Convent on Forest Hill Road