btsarnia

A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

St Clotilde’s Convent, Lechlade

I. The Catholic Community of Lechlade by Richard Barton (2003)

From the death of Queen Mary in 1558 until the arrival of the Sisters of St. Clotilde in 1939, there is little evidence of Catholic activity in Lechlade itself, although the town was surrounded by a number of Mass centres. A census for 1780 tells us that there were only two Catholics living in Lechlade at that time. The nearest of these Catholic Missions was at Hatherop Castle, which was maintained by the Blomer and Webb families. This ancient Mission survived until 1844 when Lady Barbara de Mauley died. In the following year the present Parish Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury was erected at Horcott, near Fairford. This little church continues to be the focus of a parish which serves some 300 families scattered between Purton Stoke in Wiltshire and Aldsworth in the Cotswolds.

The Order of St. Clotilde first came to England in 1903 and settled in Guildford. In 1910 a second house was founded at Eltham Park House and a school was established. Owing to the growth of London, it was decided to look for a house in the West Country. The sisters arrived at Lechlade Manor in August 1939. The dining room was converted into the chapel which was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Lawrence. Bishop Lee celebrated the first Mass on the feast of St Lawrence, 1939, and it was noted that this saint was the patron saint of the medieval Parish Church.

The first resident chaplain was Father Henry Bilsborrow and, after he left, there followed a succession of priests, many of whom were Jesuits, including Father David O’Driscoll who left in 1998. On 25th March 1960, the new Chapel of Our Lady of the Annunciation was solemnly blessed and opened by Bishop Joseph Rudderham. Externally the chapel was designed to blend with the Manor, internally being of a simple contemporary style.

After nearly sixty years, the Sisters of St Clotilde departed from Lechlade Manor shortly after their Farewell Mass which was celebrated on 12th July 1998. However, the Chapel of the Annunciation continued to be used as a chapel-of-ease until the final celebration of Mass there on 27th December 1998.  Rev. Richard Barton, Parish Priest of Fairford, served the chapel from 27th April 1998 until its closure. For some years afterwards the local congregation was welcomed by the members of Lechlade Methodist Church and Mass was celebrated at 6 p.m. every Sunday evening in their church. On Christmas Eve, during this period,the First Mass of Christmas was celebrated with the children of the parish in St Lawrence’s Parish Church.

When the sisters arrived there in 1939 was only one Catholic family in Lechlade. Sixty-five years later there were over sixty.


Lechlade 22

Madame Antoinette Sophie Aubry Desfontaines 1760-1821, Foundress of the Congregation of St. Clotilde


II. Sister Mary St Edmund McDonnell (November 1913 – April 2003)

 Sister Mary St Edmund McDonnell died in peace and dignity in the afternoon of Wednesday, 16 April 2003 in Paris, on the eve of the great Easter Celebrations which meant so much to her. The Funeral was held at Quincy on Tuesday, April 22.  Quincy is about 25km from Paris.

Sister Mary St Edmund was part of the Convent and School of St Clotilde at Lechlade Manor in Gloucestershire for nearly all her life, as pupil, nun, teacher, Headmistress and Reverend Mother.  Her father was in the Royal Army Medical Corps and she always retained a great affection for military ceremonial.  When her father was posted to India the children remained with their mother in England and she became a pupil, at a very early age, at St. Clotilde’s School at Eltham.  She became a novice at 17 and later taught both in England and France.  She came with the School when it moved from Eltham to Lechlade in 1939.  She became Headmistress in 1959, retiring in 1986, but continued to be a member of the Lechlade Community, and continued to take a loving interest in the School until it closed in 1998 when she moved to Paris.

Daphne Walters, from the Old Girls’ Association says “I’m sure all who passed through the School keep a picture of “Eddy’s” tiny, energetic figure in their hearts and they know what she meant to them. She had high standards and expected them of others but doing one’s best was what she appreciated.  She loved the history and traditions of Britain; the countryside; the spoken and written word; music; animals and she went into rhapsodies when girls brought their babies to meet her.  She had the great ability to put people at their ease with her lively chat.  Above all, she loved the young, everyone was unique to her and she considered it a privilege to help nurture them and foster their abilities through the St. Clotildean ethos”.

Her life will be celebrated with a special Requiem Mass at 11am on Saturday 7th June at the Catholic Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Horcott Road, Fairford. Everyone is very welcome to attend. On that day there will also be a St Clotilde’s Reunion at Lechlade Memorial Hall from noon until 4pm and people are welcome to come along and say ‘hello’ to former staff and also Sister Patricia, Sister Marie Dominic and Sister Anne-Marie who are coming over from France for this occasion. The day will end at 3.30pm with an epilogue (hymns, reflections, prayers and the School song) at the Memorial Hall led by the clergy of Lechlade. (Father Richard Barton, Parish Priest)


St Clot 25


III. CHAPLAINS AT ST CLOTILDE’S CONVENT AT LECHLADE

Rev. Henry L Bilsborrow                                              03/09/39 –14/09/48 (died)

Rev. Francis J.Meegan                                                  10-10/48 – 30/10/49

Rev. Gerald  Whelan                                                     02/10/49 – 24/02/50

Rev. Michael Garrigan                                                   25/02/50 – 08/07/52

Rev. Daniel Hickie                                                         10/07/52 – 31/12/52

Rev. Cuthbert Keegan   OMJ                                         04/04/53 – 19/09/53

Rev. Thomas J. Keane                                                    26/09/53 – 06/11/53

Rev. John Styles  MHM                                                  07/11/53 – 18/12/53

Rt. Rev. Monsignor Charles W. Davey   MA                 18/12/53 – Feb. 1958

Rev. William Dobbin                                                      1958 – 24/08/61 (died)

Rt. Rev Monsignor Patrick V. Hackett VF, BA            17/10/61 – 28/09/64  (died)

Rev. John Doyle  SDB, MA                                            07/03/65 – 15/08/65

Rev. John King                                                                04/09/65 – 21/10/66

Rev. Thomas J. Walshe                                                   22/10/66 – 16/04/68

Rev. Leslie J.M. Borrett  SJ                                             17/04/68 – 01/02/74 (died)

Rev. Noel Stephenson  SJ, BA                                         1974 – 17/11/81        (died)

Rev. Raymond Bacon  SJ                                                 1982 – 05/07/94

Rev. David O’Driscoll  SJ                                                23/08/94 – 19/04/98

Rev Richard J. Barton STB, AKC                                   27/04/98 – 27/12/98


St Clot 16

St Clot 15

St Clot 23

St Clot 14

St Clot 17

St Clot 18

St Clot 1

St Clot 19

St Clot 2

St Clot 3

St Clot 4

St Clot 5

St Clot 20

St Clot 6

St Clot 7

St Clot 24

St Clot 21

St Clot 22

St Clot 8

St Clot 9

St Clot 10

St Clot 11

St Clot 12

St Clot 13

st-clot-36-st-lawrences-altar

St Lawrence’s Altar in the Chapel

 


IV St Clotilde’s Cemetery, Lechlade by Philippa Hunter

Lechlade Cemetery Plan

DSCF1853

DSCF1852

DSCF1856

DSCF1854


V. Susan (Davies) Scott, a pupil from 1957 – 1962, has very kindly submitted some photographs taken by her father, David Davies, at the time of the Laying of the Foundation Stone of the Chapel in 1959. She holds the copyrights for these photographs:

 

TRANSPARENCIES 1959 6 St Clotilde back of Lechlade Manor.jpgTRANSPARENCIES 1959 6 St Clotilde Blessing of foundation stone for new chapel.jpg

transparencies-1959-6-st-clotilde-lechlade-new-chapel-foundation-stone

TRANSPARENCIES 1959 6 St Clotilde nuns.jpg

 

Susan Scott:

‘I can name most of the nuns, who include the Mother Superior who came over from the French mother house for the occasion.

There are 14 nuns of St Clotilde in the picture judging from the number of visible bonnets and, having consulted with others, they can be named with varying degrees of certainty, as follows:

From left to right:

Two nuns from a neighbouring convent

Father Dobbin

1  Sister Gethsemane

2  Sister John (hidden)

3  Sister Bruno

4  Sister Edmund (or possibly Sister Odile)

5  Sister Patricia perhaps (hidden)

6  Sister Angèle perhaps

7   Reverend Mother Dominic

8   Sister (name not known, temporary in the Lechlade branch)

9    Sister Etheldreda

10  Mother Provincial, visiting for the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new chapel

11   Sister Odile or Sister Patrick (hidden looking to the left)

12   Sister Hilda (Reverend Mother prior to Sister Dominic)

13   Sister Christine perhaps (only top of head is visible)

14   Sister Angela.

Sr Dominique was Reverend Mother at the time of the chapel’s design and construction. It was the headmistress, Sr Edmund, who told us that Sr Dominique’s input to the chapel’s design was not widely known and that she had considered every item in great detail. On the exterior the new chapel respected the style of the existing building and its features. That may have been the architect’s doing. On the interior, however, I had the impression that she wanted to avoid clutter and aimed for simple uplifting lines and lighting. The Order was French and she was French and would likely have followed progressive French and indeed European church architecture of the time.

Concurrently, we pupils were made aware that Coventry Cathedral was being rebuilt and saw the publicity and some of the details, which became familiar to us.

I might add that Sr Dominique was also a very inspiring and splendid teacher of French literarature which evidently she loved. I am sure that all her pupils were enthused by her lessons on the great classics  –   Racine, Corneille, Ronsard (Sur la mort de Marie), Mauriac, St Exupery et cetera, and she would calmly make us read material not on the syllabus before exams.

Incidentally, Sr Edmund became headmistress in about 1959, following Sr Hilda. If I remember correctly Sr Edmund had Irish roots, her brother having gone to Clongowes. She invited a specialist to talk to us about James Joyce and she also sent us on outings to historic buildings in which Monsignor Goulder specialised.’

st-clot-37

The Sisters attending Mass at St Thomas’s Fairford (July 1998)

st-clot-35

Last days of St Clotilde’s Convent

.


VI. CAPTAIN LINDSAY GARRARD, ORGAN BUILDER OF LECHLADE

In December 1998 the present pipe organ was acquired for St Thomas’s Church at Fairford. It came from the Catholic Church in Lambourn and was built in 1873 by William Hill & Son of London. The firm’s records reveal that it was commissioned for Hitcham Church in Maidenhead. At the time it was thought that this was probably the first pipe organ to be placed in St Thomas’s Church but the following note discovered in the archives shows that this is definitely not the case:

‘About this time (1908) Captain Garrard, owner of an organ factory in Lechlade, built a beautiful organ for the Church as a thank offering for his conversion. This was removed later to Swindon.’

Within a short time Philippa Hunter of Lechlade discovered some more details–

‘Lindsay Garrard – Organ builder of Lechlade lived at Ryton House and he had two daughters. He left the town before 1914. He built an organ for Uffington Church. He used the buildings at the west end of Church House garden as his workshop. This premises were formally malthouses and are situated between the Library and the  garage which is situated behind the church wall.’

 


VII. The structure of a talk given to the Lechlade Local History Society

“A Medley of Holiness”   by Fr Richard Barton (2003c)

 

Part I: Local Saints

St Sampson c. 485-565                                                      Feast Day 28th July

(Robert of Cricklade c.1140-c.1180 & St Thomas of Canterbury 1118-1170)

St Augustine of Canterbury   Arrived at Ebbsfleet 597   died 604

Feast Day 27th May

St Birinus of Dorchester   Arrived in England 634   died c.650

Feast Day 5th December

St Beornwald of Bampton       c.900                                               Feast Day 21st December

Blessed Hugh Cook or Faringdon    Born at Faringdon. Abbot of Reading Martyred 1539

Feast Day 15th November

Blessed Stephen Rowsham   Priest   Martyred in Gloucester March 1587.

Feast Day 14th November

 John Keble 1792-1866 Curate of the Eastleaches from 1815 and Southrop from 1823-27

Feast Day 14th July (Cof E)

 

Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman      1801-1890      Visited Fairford 14-16th August 1828 and Sept 1831.                                                                        Feast Day 11th August

Blessed Dominic Barberi     1792-1849      Celebrated Mass at Fairford Easter Sunday 1846

Feast Day 26th August

 

Part II: Local Devotion

St John the Baptist                                              Feast Days:  Nativity 24th June

Beheading 29th August

 

St Lawrence (Laurence) of Rome   Martyred 258             Feast Day 10th August

St Blaise      Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia C4th (?)         Feast Day 3rd February

St Agatha                of Catania in Sicily C3rd (?)                Feast Day 5th February

St Clotilde    Wife of King Clovis   Queen of France     Died 545    Feast Day 3rd June

(Madame Antoinette Sophie Aubry Desfontaines 1760-1821 – Founder of the Congregation of St Clotilde.   Convent at Lechlade Manor 1939-1998)

(St Brice (Britius) Succeeded St Martin as Bp of Tours in 397. Feast Day 13th Nov.)

St Malo of Brittany    Bishop   525-621    Feast Days:15th November/Translated 11th July

 

Part III: A Pilgrim People

St Frideswide       Abbess of Oxford       680- c.735            Feast Day 19th October

St Aldhelm of Malmesbury         Bishop of Sherborne        Died 709      Feast Day 24th May

St Kenelm of Winchcombe        Murdered Prince           Died c.819   Feast Day 17th July

8 comments on “St Clotilde’s Convent, Lechlade

  1. Sr Susan Richert
    November 2, 2016

    Fr.Anthony Dolan is writing a history of the Nottingham Diocese and we are looking to ensure that the Religious Congregations who had a presence in the Diocese are included. We think the Sisters of St.Clothilde were based at the Cathedral in Nottingham at some stage.

    If so, please could you send us a paragraph about the history of your congregation and its charism; as well as when you came into the Diocese, what you did and when you left.

    I look forward to hearing from you asap.
    Blessings,

    Sr Susan Richert pbvm
    Vicar for Religious, Diocese of Nottingham

    • Richard Barton
      November 2, 2016

      Dear Sister, Many thanks for your comment. I was Parish Priest for Lechlade as the Sisters were selling up the property so I only had direct contact with the Order for a few months back in 1998. I would recommend that you contact their headquarters which will be somewhere in France. Kind regards Richard.

  2. Lesley Hayward, ex-pupil at Lechlade [1957-1964)
    March 6, 2017

    Communaute des Soeurs de St Clotilde, 116 rue Lourmel, 75015 Paris.

  3. Lesley Hayward, ex-pupil at Lechlade [1957-1964)
    March 7, 2017

    Susan, no 4 in your photo is definitely Sr Odile or Dilly as we called her. Shame Sr St Patrick can’t be seen – she was known as Paddy and she was my Form Tutor in 1957! Sr Odile as I recall used to do the uniforms [including knickers, which we declined to use!]. Somewhere I have some photos which I will try to find [still sorting out a big downsize and move]
    Regards to all old pupils.
    Lesley [Yates-Fish]

    • Richard Barton
      March 7, 2017

      Many thanks for these additions. Photographs would certainly be much appreciated. With kind regards Richard

  4. Edith MAZURE
    May 19, 2017

    I am Edith Mazuré. I was in St -Clotild’s for one term in 1959 ( ?) .
    I was Sr Dominic’s niece.Actually my son and his family are living in London.
    So I come to London several time’s in the year.
    Randomly,they are going on holiday’s near Lechlade next week .
    So I ask my grandaughter Daphné to light a candle for me in the church. Life goes on whith Saint Clotilde…….
    Edith,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: