Catholic Heritage Blog

Archive of the Month: Stanford Hall drawing (Society of the Sacred Heart, England and Wales)

Welcome to Catholic Heritage’s no doubt eagerly awaited(!) and long-overdue (apologies) second blog post, this time created by the Society of the Sacred Heart (England and Wales Province) Archives. The Society is a congregation of women religious founded in France in 1800. Last year was the 175th anniversary of the Society in the UK, as schools and communities were first established in England in 1842.

During the Second World War, the Convent School at Roehampton was evacuated to Stanford Hall, near Rugby. Over the next few years one of the RSCJ (Réligieuse du Sacré Coeur de Jésus), Sister Catherine Blood, would send regular letters to those Sisters of the congregation who had remained behind in Roehampton – where they were to suffer bombing raids, twice, in 1943.

A gifted illustrator and artist, whose work featured in the humorous literary magazine Punch and in several children’s books, Sr Catherine’s letters would be brought to life with humour and sensitivity in drawings and sketches of the buildings, grounds and daily lives of the community and school at Stanford Hall.

One such drawing from her letters is here, part of a collection found recently in a chasublier which stands outside one of the two rooms of the Society’s Provincial Archives here in Roehampton.

The scene depicted shows one of the RSCJ receiving a gift from a group of Italian prisoners of war who were being held at an internment camp, also at Stanford Hall. The gift being presented is of 18 figs grown by the men. Sr Catherine’s letter describes how touched the RSCJ were by this gift and the way in which it was formally presented.

Finding this and the other letters in this collection, we were struck by the charm of Sr Catherine’s drawings, and the skill with which they are realised.

If you are interested in learning more about this collection or any others held by the Society of the Sacred Heart, please do contact us.

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