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St Martha's Convent

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

m) ST.MARTHA’S CONVENT: The order originated in France in 1643, but the Rottingdean convent was founded in 1903 and moved in 1924 to the present buildings which stand on a site formerly occupied by Rudyard Kipling’s miniature rifle-range. There are a number of small flint buildings and walls in the grounds, while the R.C. Primary School of Our Lady of Lourdes, opened in 1969, stands nearby.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

St Martha's Convent
Photo by Tony Mould

Comments about this page

  • I have very happy memories of the Convent. It was my first school 1947/49 and I well remember Sister Michael Mary and Sister Veronica who taught me the piano. I have a school group photograph of that period. I wonder where they are all now.

    By Barry White (01/12/2009)
  • I was a boarder from 1953-1963. I too remember Sr. Michael Mary, Sr. Veronica, Sr. Mary Pauline. It remains one of my happiest memories.

    By Tina O'Brien (nee Smith) (06/04/2010)
  • My mother Marjorie Eileen Murrell went to a convent in Brighton in or around 1920 or so. There was a long driveway up to it and her mother took her there when she was little. She was a Holford grandchild and her mother left her and her other brother and sisters and went to Canada. Their names were Beatrice, Jimmy, Elsie, Dorothy and Marjorie (my mother).

    By Jean Farrington (24/07/2011)
  • Recently alighted on this site only to find some discrepancies with regard to the religious staff of St Martha’s Convent. Sr Veronica was never a teacher, as far as I know, as she was clearly not educated enough. She did, however, become a sort of ‘matron’ for the senior boarders in ‘Pax’. Sr Mary Helen taught Latin and also introduced the more senior girls to playing cards for chocolate halfpennies! Sr Michael Mary did teach ‘the little ones’ as they were referred to – what happened to her? Sr Margaret Mary left the Convent and the headmistress in 1950 was Sr St Gerard who was killed in an accident in a train as it entered the St Gothard tunnel on its way to Rome. A school party was on a pilgrimage to Rome. I was a boarder from approx. 1943 – 1950. There were a couple of lay teachers at the time, Miss Feeney and Miss McGrath – any one remember? Fr O’Brien was the priest at the time and masses were held in the Chapel – no St Margaret’s had been built yet. Chime in if you have any other information or memories – would love to hear from anyone.

    By G. Barbara Holden (nee Fisher) (10/10/2011)
  • I was a day girl at St Martha’s from approx. 1959 to 1962. I think I remember a Sister Mary Pauline. Can anyone tell me the name of the headmistress at that time? There was a girl called Odette who was in my class but I can’t remember any other names.

    By Niki Britt (25/05/2015)
  • After all these years there has been no further news re the above questions. Anyone with a scrap of information, please chime in. I do recall a girl by the name of Betty Negus. She is now married and lives in Portugal. Where are the others – Ann Branford, Patty Haslett, Lavender Bennett, Dora Mills, Annette Mills, Deidre Stansell, Anne Romaine, Avril de Coverley, Jennifer Kramer ( a ‘little one” ) etc.?

    By Gloria Holden (nee Fisher) (12/10/2017)
  • Does anyone remember my sister Anne Lerner late ’50s?

    By David Lerner (05/05/2018)
  • I, Victoria Dickson  and my three year younger sister Jacqueline went to St Martha’s from approx 1956- 1964. We part boarded occasionally. I remember Sr Veronica, Mary Helen, Des Anges, Pauline, and Marie Christine the  Rev Mother ( she went on to be Head of Barnet Convent). I took my daughter and sister back to Rottingdean about 15 years ago, and I recognised the nun who opened the main door by her voice, Sr Pauline.  We sat in the parlour for a cuppa. She showed us the chapel, and veg garden. All the tennis courts, playing fields had been sold off. It is no longer a school, but a home for Irish unmarried mums and their babies. I remember Sue Carryer, Anna Aroba, Diane Hohaus, Jenny Beckwith,(boarder) Tina ?, Phylis Hunter, Norma Byrne, (both boarders) and Caroline Burbage. My sister’s friend was Caroline Munro. Dirk Bogarde went to St Martha’s as they took boys up to seven. This stopped shortly after I joined the school. I remember Hugh O’Hara as a little boy there, he went on to be GP in Rottingdean. I also remember, Angela?, Kenneth More‘s wife who was at the school in my first year. I remember teachers Miss Branford, Moira and her sister Linda? Anderson, panama hats, white gloves and blazers. Happy memories. It is now a Guest House.

    By Vicki Smith (22/05/2018)
  • I was a boarder from 1953-1963. I remember all the sisters (Sr. Mary Helen taught Latin and Spanish, Sr. Mary Pauline, Sr. Veronica, Sr. Mary Des Anges.  Still in touch with Phyllis Hunter, wondered what happened to others, Pat Brookes, Diana Thompson, Wendy Goddard, Jill Delaney. 

    I have lived in Canada for 48 years.

    By Tina O'Brien (nee Smith) Dian (03/11/2018)
  • I think my mother taught or assisted with art at the school in the early 1950s, she was certainly there 1951.I think she taught younger children, her name was Rae Keohan and she was Irish.

    By Maura Pell (13/05/2020)
  • Myself and my twin sister Sarah Rhys and our older sister Caroline were at St. Martha’s from 1958. I looked after ‘the little ones’ with Sr Jan Elizabeth in my last term there. Still friends with Sandra Peacock if anyone remembers us. Fond memories of Sr Mary Pauline, and teacher Miss Anderson.

    By Judith Giorgetti (21/06/2020)
  • I was a day boy in and around 1953 but I cannot remember anyone’s name from then. I was one of the only boys amongst a class of girls!

    By Jamie Hodge (24/06/2020)
  • I started in St Martha’s in 1957. I remember Sister Jan Elizabeth. When I went to stay at what is now St Martha’s guest house in the 1990s, a nun there Sister Jan Elizabeth had died. No real surprise, I suppose. Fr O’Brien, who was friends with my parents retired to Spain with his sister, where he died, I believe. I can’t remember anyone I was in class with there except a girl called Jane Stenton, who I’d see at Mass on Sundays at Our Lady of Lourdes church, which opened in 1958.

    By Brendan Martin (29/08/2020)
  • I think I remember Judith, did you want to be a ballet dancer? I remember Sharon, her Mum had a Hairdressers, and Wendy… her parents had the Chemists in Rottingdean
    I also remember Alexandriana, she went on to be Head Girl, She and her sister Donata were Nigerian? Boarders. I remember their family coming on Sports days all dressed in their national dress.
    I forgot to say previously that Sr Mary Pauline took us up to the convent cemetery. I remember seeing Sr Veronica’s and Sr Des Ange headstones.
    I remember she broke her arm, during a Science lesson. She stuck to Latin and French afterwards!! Happy days.
    Married , 4 grand children, living nr Southampton for 38 years.

    By Vicki Smith (11/09/2020)

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