Convent of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge, St Michael's, Waterlooville, Hampshire

The Convent of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge, also known as St Michael's, was established in 1886 at Waterlooville, near Portsmouth, and was an offshoot of a similar establishment at Bartestree, near Hereford. The refuge was intended for 'the reception of penitents and the preservation of young girls in danger of falling'. An entrance fee of £2 was expected from each girl admitted.

The establishment originally occupied the site of what is now 350-52 London Road, Waterlooville. Following the purchase of twenty acres of land to the rear of the convent, new separate buildings were erected to house the refuge and its accompanying laundry block, which was intended to allow the institution self-supporting.

A report of the new buildings in 1889, described the refuge as a large single-storey structure, constructed in local red bricks. On the ground floor was a large room, measuring 76ft. by 24ft, used as an ironing-room. Upstairs there was dormitory accommodation for a hundred rescued girls and women. A bedroom adjoined the dormitory and, through sliding window let into the door, commanded a view of it. This bedroom was set apart for a nun, to allow oversight of the penitents after they had retired for the night. The wash-house, with an ample drying-ground attached, was fitted with all the latest appliances of a modern and well-appointed laundry. A cart was attached to the institution for the collection and delivery of work, and the vehicle was prepared to be sent any reasonable to collect and return laundry. The cost of erecting the home was said to be between £3,000 and £4,000, which was funded by the nuns themselves. Mr J Edwards of Waterlooville carried out the building work to plans prepared by Mr Leonard Stokes. The staff of the institution comprised six nuns, the same number of postulants, and about six lay sisters. Among the inmates of the convent were also some French lay sisters, whose special knowledge of the work of blanchisseuses was intended to enable the laundry business to be carried on with satisfaction to the customers.

The St Michael's site is shown on the 1908 map below.

The St Michael's site, Waterlooville, c.1908.

St Michael's Refuge and Laundry from the south-east, Waterlooville, Hampshire, c.1905. © Peter Higginbotham

The Refuge building was subsequently extended by the addition of what became the Sisters' main convent accommodation and, by the 1930s, the Church of the Sacred Heart.

In the early 1960s, the Sisters established two family group homes for deprived children in two adjacent houses alongside the London Road. The Firs at 356 London Road could house fifteen children, with The Mount at number 358 could accommodate ten.

By the late 1960s, the refuge building had become known as the Hillview Training Centre and provided twelve places for girls aged from 15 to 18 years. The laundry was still in operation.

The refuge buildings have now been converted to private residential use, as has The Mount.

Records

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  • None identfied at present — any information welcome.

Bibliography

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