Polished floors and strict discipline

Lourdes Convent, prior to redevelopment in 1972
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

A non-Catholic

I joined Lourdes Convent in 1965; I was nine years old and not a Catholic. I felt like a fish out of water. I was put into Mother Elizabeth’s class and have her to thank for my French style handwriting. I remember Miss Lamb and Mrs Tobin’s Irish dancing and taking elocution lessons. One term we had a Japanese nun visit who brought a wind up baby doll to raffle. I bought a ticket and to my delight and amazement won.

Warming teacher’s cushion

The main memories I have of the school are of highly polished floors, constant demands for donations, bells, prayers, a repressive atmosphere and strict discipline. My friends included the sadly late Deborah Carter, Judy Rawlinson, Francine Parsons, Edita, Isa Nagle, Vivienne Lynn, Jill Stein, Suzanne Ryder, Georgina from Hurstpierpoint, and Helen Blatt. The strictest teacher was Miss Hamilton, an Anglo-Indian I believe, who insisted that I warmed up a cushion for her on the radiator before class. Imagine our class delight when we were informed she was to be our form teacher for the second year running.

Cleaning the classrooms

Mother Imelda always got my name wrong and called me Rosslyn for an entire year. My favourite teacher was Madame Tomlyn? An impossibly young and trendy French teacher who introduced us to Jacques Prevert. It was our duty to clean the classrooms, on a rota basis. I loved Mrs Bingham and it was to her I ran to when a flasher got me on the back way, one lunchtime.

The only male teacher

Mr Langridge, was the music teacher, and the only male in the school. I seem to remember echos of Miss Pernagi ‘s broad Irish brogue, insisting that we “hang your shorts up by both hooks”. I left five years later, to go to De La Salle College, and delightedly threw my hat up into the tree, on the way out.

Comments about this page

  • I too remember most of what you recall, Rosalind, though, alas,  I can’t quite recall you, I do  though, Francine, Isa,  Deborah Carter (though I’ve forgotten her face) my brother Hans Swan was in Miss Lamb’s  class and I was in Mother Immeldas, Michelle Stanley, Melissa Millings, dear Linda Gary, Gillian Roberts, Karen Brown and Pamela Clayton, plus many more.(if you’d jog my memory)!

    Do you remember Miss Thompson the music teacher? And the school dinners Mother Imelda used to so generously dish out? I was the delinquant from Ceylon who was made to read out aloud the shoemaker and the elves by Miss Thompson who said” not “pocket.”.but ” pockit” not “kitchen” but ” kitchin” to emphasize  a point..!

    Well, we left england for Singapore and then when I was 16 plus , we moved on to australia,but what a moving coincidence  tracing back the years through you!

    Incidently whilst in France, I had the joy of meeting up with Reverend Mother Madelline then the Mother Superior of Lourdes convent.Do you remember young irish Mother Collumba? she taught my younger brother, Michael.

    So today, Most Holy night, is Christmas Day just ebbing out, whilst wherever you are it may be just begining, so I wish you every blessing and joy of  our Infant Saviour, dear Rosalind, on This, His Most Precious  Birthday! God bless,  Gail.x

    By gail swan (25/12/2017)
  • I attended Lourdes as a day pupil in the Sixties. Many names of teachers and pupils ring a bell, particularly Mother Elizabeth, Miss Lamb and pupil Isa Nagle (we shared the same birthday). I was then Toni Budd, would love to know if anyone remembers me!

    By Toni Christina kemp (11/02/2020)
  • Dear Toni Budd

    I took over from you, mid term, around Easter 1965, literally sitting in what had been your desk, next to Debbie Carter. You MUST be the same person as my mother bought Parkdean Nursing Home in Preston Park Ave., from a Mr & Mrs Budd, I believe, you and your parents moved to Guernsey? So it’s your fault that I ended up in Lourdes Convent!

    By Rosalind Wilkinson (18/07/2020)
  • Hated this school. I was sent there to make a young lady of me. We had to curtesy to Reverend Mother. I wasn’t a catholic . Some peculiar teachers. Miss Lamb who once chased me around the classroom during detention and hit me very hard. My parents should have reported her. Miss Tobin who wouldn’t let anyone have Enid Blyton books. Mrs Rogers who wore thick makeup and lots of rouge who once fell backwards off her chair. I wanted to laugh but didn’t dare. Strange school. Loved the uniform though. We had blue & white striped dresses and a special pale blue dress for holy days. We wore felt hats with the school badge on the front in winter and straw Panama hats in the summer. Loved the fetes and fancy dress. Remember Linda Steed, Jacqueline Pinot, Vivienne De Saxe and my cousin Geraldine Goddard.

    By Lesley Miles (nee Goddard) (01/03/2021)

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