Originally located in Paris where their school had been a centre of girls’ education since 1634, the Augustinian Canonesses Regular of the Lateran left for England in 1911 and bought this site in Hillcrest Road in Ealing on which to build their school and convent. Although the order of nuns dispersed from St Augustine’s in the autumn of 1996, their spirit and faith lives on in the school which they nurtured for so long.
Our history dates back to 1631 when an English woman, Lettice Mary Tredway, an English nun at the convent of Notre Dame de Beaulieu at Douai, together with Father Thomas Carre, a priest at the English College at Douai, conceived the idea of founding an order in France for those English women who wished to pursue their religious vocation but were prevented from doing so in England due to religious persecution.
In 1634 the Augustinian convent of the Canonesses Regular of the Lateran opened in Paris. Six English women were selected to start this new community, among them a thirteen year old girl, Margaret Dormer. She was too young to become a nun and so the school began, with Margaret Dormer the first pupil.
Over the next 250 years the community and school on the Rue des Fosses St Victor found itself at the heart of European events. The French Revolution saw the nuns enduring the terror of those years, their convent even being used as a prison for women. In the following years under Napoleon the community often played host as the Emperor enjoyed walking in the quiet of the convent gardens. Following Napoleon’s defeat, the Duke of Wellington visited the community. Revolution in 1848 saw the nuns remain at their posts, but in 1862 new premises had to be found when the property on the Rue des Fosses St Victor was demolished, and the convent and school moved to Neuilly, on the outskirts of the city.
In 1911, after nearly three hundred years, the anti-clerical laws of France saw the community compelled to leave France for England, a country where nuns were now welcome, to practise their vocation and run their school.