Page 1, 4th October 1940

4th October 1940
Page 1
Page 1, 4th October 1940 — Further Widespread Damage to Convents, Religious Institutions

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People: Fr
Locations: Aberdeen, LONDON


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Further Widespread Damage to Convents, Religious Institutions


Cardinal Hinsley made an extensive tour last Sunday of the areas lately affected in North London, and consoled priests and people on the loss of property which in so many cases had meant such great sacrifices to acquire.

Three nuns were killed when a convent school was damaged. So far the only religious casualties are three nuns and the two priests reported last week The heroic work of the Little Sisters of the Poor in removing their bedridden charges stands out in stories of calm courage and brave endurance.

We also print below further details of the relief work undertaken by the Sword of the Spirit.

Historic Church Wrecked

By a C.H. Reporter

A famous church closely associated with the growth of Catholicism in the London district, the home of many famous priests and the parish of several auxiliary bishops of the West.ulinster diocese, has been severely damaged by a high explosive bomb.

I was shown round the church, still thick with the white and black dust of the explosion, by the Rev. W. J. Anderson.

It would seem that the explosive was one of a stick of five, and if the ruin caused by the others is any gauge of the power and weight of the one that struck the church, the present state of the fabric is a great tribute to architect and builder. One of the bombs tore through a block of workmen's flats and caused considerable havoc —here there were fatal casualties—which were only avoided at the church by a matter of feet.

At the time the bomb fell some twenty to thirty homeless people of the district were finding temporary shelter and trying to get some fitful sleep in the church hall immediately opposite the west door, STRUCK ST. JOSEPH'S CHAPEL The bomb struck the Chapel of St. Joseph on the gospel side of the nave (see picture, page 5) and would seem to have exploded before reaching the floor of the chapel. That chapel and its roof is wrecked eontpletely. The blast tore up the wall to reveal the red brick of the clerestory, smashed the windows, pillars and supports, blew across the sanctuary and tore a large hole in the roof of the nave over the epistle side of the high altar.

The blast turned everything topsy-turvy, blew out every window in the church and smashed, but unsuccessfully, against the massive oak door of the sacristy. Armoured with iron, this withstood the effect after tearing its iron staple several inches out of the wall.

A feature of the church was its many stained glass windows. None of the glass was ancient, but nearly all of it represented the best of the revival of Gothic work of the late Victorian era, to which time would have lent its inevitable charm.

The whole of the famous west window, except for a few ribbons of lead and jagged pieces of colour, lies in a heap outside the west door. Nothing in the heap, said Fr. Anderson, was worth trying to recover, it had all been broken too small.


The famous statue of Our Lady, with its baldachin° and pedestal, is intact, but now stands forlornly covered by a dust sheet the pendant crucifix in the nave, designed by Bentley, so reminiscent of the great rood in Westminster Cathedral, is also unharmed, though in the force of the explosion it must have swung wildly from the roof.

The high altar steps arc wrecked, but the altar itself, apart from a severe loosening of the stones, is unharmed. The tabernacle has been taken away to serve in the temporary church now set up in two classrooms of the schools, for the most part evacuated.

Damage to Famous Convent

Damage done to a famous convent in South-West London as the result of two recent raids includes breakage of glass and injury to the fabric through blast from a nearby explosion, considerable destruction in the Jubilee wing and the dormitory above it, in the Eastern section of the Georgian portion of the convent, and in the southern part of the main building.

Three incendiary bombs were also dropped on the building.

The children's dining-room and junior school are destroyed, as well as the community chapel with its beautiful golden altar. The valuable contents of the library have been saved, as well as the statue of Our Lady of Aberdeen, which stood in the magnificent vestibule, where much damage has been done and where the lantern wilt probably have to be pulled down.

Though the amount or damage cannot be as yet assessed in full, the Superior of the convent is convinced it is " enormous," the greater part of it being in the north-eastern section of the building. The students are evacuated from the school, but some fifteen nurses and refugees as well as visitors were staying in the convent when the two raids took place, together with the community of seventy.

" We had the Union Jack hoisted above the ruined section of the building the next day," the Superior said The convent was founded in 1842 at Acton, but eight years later it was removed to its present site.

Girls' Training College Burnt Out

A well-known girls' training college in West London which early last week suffered severely from an incendiary bomb which burnt out the west wing of the college, received even more extensive damage in the latter part of the week from an high explosive.

The training school is conducted by nuns whose two other well-known establishments in the Westminster and Southwark dioceses have also suffered.

The church attached to the college which also serves the immediate neighbourhood, has had all its windows blown out and the fabric damaged. The demonstrating school, well-known to London teachers and educationists, was also damaged.

The bomb fell in the square and almost opposite a sheker fur the nurses attached to the post, which since die outbreak of war has been established there. No one was seriously hurt in either " incident," but four nurses were slightly hurt by the high explosive.

Only a few students were present in the college, • which for the most part, has been evacuated for some time.

Three Nuns Killed

Three nuns were kilted as the result of a bomb which fell on a South London convent school during the past week.

The convent of the Ladies of Mary combines school, kindergarten, and a Home for Sick Children. Recently windows and doors were damaged as the result of a bomb exploding some little distance away. Repairs had just been completed when a high explosive which fell in the early hours of the morning almost completely wrecked the school buildings and damaged the kindergarten, convent and chapel.

Most of the nuns, including the Reverend Mother and three boarders, were in a special shelter built in the hall between the convent and the school, but one sick tom was in the infirmary.

Two sisters stayed with the invalid during the raid and they and the sick nun were killed. The rest of the community escaped without injury

Charterhouse Cloister Damaged

Nine Carthusian monks probably escaped death by their devotion to the rule, when a bomb struck a well-known Charterhouse in South-East England.

Exact details of the extent of the damage are not to hand at the time of writing. but nine cells normally occupied by the monks were destroyed, and the cloister severely damaged.

As the bomb fell about the time of midnight office, the monks were in the chapel and not in their cells. No one was hurt. Normally there are about twenty monks in residence, but two were recently interned because they fell within the age limits for aliens.

Printing Press Closed

A Catholic press in the South-West of London has had to he closed because the buildings have been so badly shaken in a recent air raid. The farmyard and other buildings near it which arc on the property of a large religious community owning the press, were hit. Well-known Catholic monthlies printed in this place, such as Stella Maris and the Messenger of the Sacred Heart. will he printed elsewhere.

More Damage News on page 7

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