FRANC1SCAN nuns whose community was founded in Brussels early in the 17th century for English women who could not live a conventual life in their own country broke a link in history this week when they left their convent in Taunton, Somerset.
After nearly 150 years, the convent, dedicated to Our Lady of Dolours, is being taken over by the Sisters of St. Joseph as an allgrade high school for girls,
The older part of the building was built in 1772. A plan to turn it into a hospital failed, and in 1807 it was acquired by the Franciscan community, who moved with their school from Winchester.
During their early years in Brussels the nuns had as chaplains a succession of priests who became martyrs in England.
One of the community aims was to provide schooling for the daughters of harassed English Catholics. For 25 years the nuns were at Nicuport. They then went to Bruges, where they remained for 150 years. This convent was dedicated to Our Lady of Dolours.
Exiled by wars
Over the years the nuns collected many precious relics of the English mar0 is.
Wars which followed the French Revolution forced the iiuns to move and in 1794 they came to England.
During the two World Wars Abess Kendall-abbess for 32 years until her death in 1941-gave great help to refugees. whose children were taken into both their schools. and hospitality to two religious communities.
She was well known for her gifts to poor priests of the diocese.
Abbess Jermingham was abbess for nearly 46 years-from 1847 to 1893. She enlarged the school, built a new sanctuary for the chapel, and gave great help to poor churches and missions.
In 1864 she founded St. Joseph's Training School, which was carried on for many years, as well as St. Francis's High School.
The second World War brought changes. St. Joseph's became a guest and retreat house for ladies, and St. Francis's School became a preparatory school for girls.
The nuns have moved to Goodings, near Hungerford in Berkshire.