A Historic Essex Convent – the 125th anniversary of New Hall, Essex in 1925

New Hall Essex
New Hall Essex

I stumbled across this when I was looking for more  information on the Roper Parkingtons, and this was on the same page as the notice of Lady RP’s death.

PARKINGTON.—Of your charity, pray for the soul of Marie Louise Parkington, wife of the late Col. Sir John Roper Parkington, who died on June 13, fortified by the rites of Holy Church, at Broadwater Lodge Wimbledon. R.I.P. 

It is all part of a very small world because Great, Great, Great, Great Aunt Jane Grehan joined the convent  about 1800, and Great, Great, Great Grandpa Patrick Grehan Senior left her, and presumably the convent, £ 1,500 in his will of 1830. It was a huge sum of money. New Hall was the girls’ equivalent of  either Douai, or more probably Stonyhurst (though 100 years later than either). It’s also entertaining that the house belonged to Thomas Boleyn because he was Jane Grehan’s third cousin about seven times removed, and the Butlers got the Earldom of Ormond back on the grounds of Thomas Boleyn not having any male heirs. The execution of his son George along with his sister Anne having something to do with it…

Anyway back to the Tablet in 1925

The one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Convent of the Holy Sepulchre, New Hall, near Chelmsford, was commemorated on Tuesday, when new school buildings were opened by His Eminence Cardinal Bourne, in the presence of a distinguished gathering of clergy and laity. New Hall is an historic Tudor mansion, purchased at the end of the eighteenth century for the English branch of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, which was founded at Liege in 1642, and came over to England in consequence of the French Revolution. The place originally belonged to the Augustinian Canons of Waltham Abbey, and was the summer residence of their Abbots, who frequently entertained royalty here on their way, via Harwich, to and from the Continent. It subsequently became Crown property. Henry VIII, who acquired it from Sir Thomas Boleyn, father of the ill-fated Anne, gave it the name of Beaulieu, and kept the great feast of St. George here with his whole Court in 1524. His arms are to be seen to this day in the chapel ,of the Convent, which was originally the ” great hall ” of the mansion. The blessed Thomas More, the martyr, visited here with the Court, and it was Mary Tudor’s favourite abode. Queen Elizabeth also visited here, and on the front entrance over the chapel door are the Royal Arms and an inscription to her. The new school buildings, designed by Mr. Sidney Meyers, consist of six new class rooms, a dormitory, an art studio, and practising rooms. The principal addition is a spacious hall to serve as gymnasium, as a theatre for the performance of plays, and as a recreation room in inclement weather.

Pontifical High Mass, “Coram Cardinale” was celebrated by the Bishop of Brentwood, with Father Wilfrid Thompson, rector of Chelmsford, as deacon, and Father M. Wilson, of Brentwood, subdeacon. The assistant priest was Canon Dolan, of Sheffield (brother of the Mother Prioress), and the deacons at the throne were Canons Shepherd (of Stock) and McKenna (Southend). Mgr. Wm. O’Grady, V.G., was assistant priest to the Cardinal, and Mgr. G. Coote master of ceremonies to His Eminence. In the sanctuary were the Archbishop of Bombay ; Abbots Smith and White, C.R.L. ; Mgri. Watson and Rothwell ; Canons Bloomfield, Shepherd, and Driscoll ; the President of St. Edmund’s College, Old Hall; the Rector of Beaumont College; the Rector of Manresa House, Roehampton ; the Superior of the London Oratory (Father Crewse); Revv. B. S. Rawlinson, O.S.B., Bede Jarrett, 0.P., C. Galton, S.J., Bradley, C.SS.R., G. Nicholson, C.SS.R.,Burnham, Blackett, S.J., James Nicholson, S.J., E. King, S.J. O’Gorman, S.J., P. L. Craven, Coughlan (Braintree), Gay (Kelvedon), and P. Butler (chaplain of the convent).

Among the laity were Audrey Lady Petre, Sir Thomas and Lady Neave, Lady Shiffner, Lady Horder, Lady Keith Price, Admiral and Mrs. Haggard, Commander and Mrs. Fell, Mr. Mitchell Banks, K.C., M.P., Captain and Mrs. Curtis, Major and Mrs. Fleming, Mrs. Hunter Blair, Major, Mrs. and Miss Tufnell, Madame Girod de l’Ane, Colonel and Mrs. E. Blount, Mr. and Mrs. Turville Petre, Mr., Mrs. and Miss H. S. Petre, Mrs. Weld Blundell, Miss Trappes Lomax, Mr. C. Trappes Lomax, and Mr. Robert Trappes Lomax (who was train-bearer to the Cardinal).

After lunch a splendid performance by the pupils was given of ” A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which was beautifully staged in the new Hall and produced by Miss Winifred Dolan. The young performers displayed a fine dramatic •instinct, and had an enthusiastic reception. At the close they sang for the first time “New Hall School Song” (in which are traced the historical associations of the place), the words by Miss Dolan. It was composed by Madame Emilie Clarke, who played selections from her own compositions, while the incidental music was played by Miss Janet Curtis.

THE CARDINAL’S ADDRESS.

Speaking at the close of the performance, Cardinal Bourne offered the very sincere congratulations of all to the Mother Prioress and the community of New Hall on the anniversary they had been celebrating. One hundred and twenty-five years !—well, they had not invented a name for such a celebration. They had jubilees of different kinds—silver, golden, diamond—and centenaries. What they would call 125 years he did not quite know. A century and a quarter, and on that occasion it marked the opening of what he believed was certain to be a new epoch in the history of the school. The community had, to his mind very wisely, not been afraid to embark on a great enterprise. They had seen that day in the splendid entertainment provided for them what one might call the first fruits of the new enterprise ; and in expressing to the children of the school their appreciation of what they had shown them, the excellent way in which every-thing had been staged and presented, he took that as an augury of the future. What they had done that day showed what they were capable of, and although they might be the first to admit that such an entertainment was not the most important thing in their school life, still it did take an important part in it, and gave them courage and to us all the assurance that in the most important things they would do as they had done in that entertainment. That morning in the chapel they had what he regarded as something to be welcomed—a truly liturgical High Mass with not a single word in the vernacular, and he appreciated a liturgical Mass like that very much. Then very wisely the community set an example for all of them that might be pursued in other places : there were no speeches at the luncheon. And so until that moment they had not an opportunity of offering their good wishes to the Mother Prioress, the community, and the children on what had been achieved and what that achievement meant for the future. The school occupied a very important place in the educational life of the country, and he hoped that would never be forgotten. It represented a very old and very important tradition. There was a time not so long ago when the number of children there seriously diminished, and, as he had said, the community had determined to place the school once again in the forefront of Catholic schools for girls. They had done so very wisely, and on behalf of the visitors he wished all those connected with the school, the Mother Prioress, the community, the young girls and the old girls, the realization of their hopes and dreams for the future. He had said that school had occupied a very special place on account of its links with the past, and he thought those communities that go back in the history of this country now for 125 years, and go back in their own history for a much longer period of time, had a very special place in the history of the Catholic Church in this country. They were one of the answers, and a very important answer, to the false theories of continuity that had become rife in this country in more recent years. New Hall, the Benedictine houses, the Canonesses Regular of the Lateran, and other religious houses were founded abroad, remember, because their existence was impossible in England ; their existence in England would not have been impossible had there not been a radical change in the religion Of the country. Let them never forget that. It was because their English Catholic maidens who had desired a religious life could not find that religious life in England, owing to the religious change of the sixteenth century, that those houses were founded abroad. They were living in happier and better times, and thanked God for it. Let them never forget the history of the past. They do no service to their country or to its religious interests if they forgot that. And so, said His Eminence in concluding, I thank this religious community for their continued existence. Their presence among us, their continuance in difficult and easier times, are things for which the country and the whole Catholic Church in this country have reason to be thankful. Looking at the new buildings and upon the children, we look forward to the future full of hope and confidence that the next seventy-five years, which will have to elapse between this and the second centenary, will see New Hall always growing in strength, always filling that religious place in the educational life of this country, and always doing the work for which it was founded.

THE BISHOP OF BRENTWOOD.

The BISHOP OF BRENTWOOD thanked His Eminence for coming there and also for speaking words of encouragement to the good nuns who were living on that historic spot and doing a splendid work that had been carried on for 125 years. The existence of New Hall was one of the brightest features in the diocese of Brentwood. He believed there were some people who would not have known anything about the diocese of Brentwood or of Essex except for New Hall. One class knew of Essex by Southend, and another knew of Essex by New Hall. He had been in many parts of the country, and everywhere met people who had told him that they had been brought up at New Hall, and that meant to him that New Hall had made the diocese and the county known. He wished to thank the community for all they had done. When the nuns first came there 125 years ago they found the place very much dismantled. They paid a good sum of money for the property. They found the children were separated too far from the rest of the community, and it took them a year before they were able to get the work accomplished. He could not help thinking as he looked at the new buildings that day that the spirit of the nuns of New Hall was exactly the same spirit of 125 years ago. Anybody who had been associated with New Hall would say that those who had come from that school had always had the same charming homelike spirit. There was something about it, something about the children, that produced a most charming type and at the same time a love of New Hall that brought people back there again and to send their children in order to get the benefits of the place. He wished to thank the nuns for creating that spirit, and re-echoed the words of His Eminence the Cardinal. There was a charm, but they could not be content merely with that. They must move with the times. He thought the community had come to a right decision ; that they would go on singing the Divine Office and saying all the prayers, and also go on educating the children put into their charge. In order to do that properly they must have the buildings and equipment which’ they saw that day. He congratulated the nuns, and echoed the words of the Cardinal that that might be the beginning of a new epoch, and the next 525 years a more glorious period than the last in educating children to be staunch workers, and so help on the great work they were trying to do here in England.

FATHER JAMES NICHOLSON, S.J., who is acting as one of the chaplains, conveyed the thanks of the Mother Prioress and the community to the visitors. In a tribute to New Hall he observed that there is a home feeling in it that comes of the charity that exists there.

 

The above text was found on p.16, 27th June 1925 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

 

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