Nazareth House Industrial School for Roman Catholic Girls, Isleworth, Middlesex
A Nazareth House was established in 1890 at Isleworth House on Richmond Road, Isleworth. The imposing building was originally built for Sir William Cooper, physician to George III. The home provided accommodation for the aged poor and for orphan and destitute children — primarily Roman Catholic girls.
In 1899, the establishment was certified to operate an Industrial School for up to 120 Roman Catholic Girls up to the age of 14 who had been committed by the courts. The School initially operated in part of the main convent building then on 4th September, 1899, moved into a separate purpose-built block at the north of the site. Because of its red-brick construction, the block became known as the Red House. As well as basic education, the girls were trained in needlework, cooking, laundry work and housemaid's work. Their physical exercise included musical drill routines. For recreation, there was a library and well-stocked toy cupboard. The Industrial School ceased operation in September 1921.
A new chapel, also in red brick, was added at the west side of the house in 1902. It was designed by the firm of Pugin & Pugin who specialised in Roman Catholic buildings.
The layout of the Isleworth site in 1913 is shown on the map below.
The care of children at the home ended in 1985 and the facilities for care of the elderly were extended, with the Red House being remodelled for use as a residential care home. Some land at the north-east corner of the site was sold off in 1986 where the Herons Place housing development now stands.
The Sisters finally vacated the site in 2002. After initial plans to sell the site were unsuccessful, planning permission was obtained to build a retirement village and nursing home but these were stalled with the onset of the financial downturn in 2008. In 2014, the site was again up for sale.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Nazareth House, 169-175 Hammersmith Road, London W6 8DB. The archivist is Christine Hughes. The archive contains material from the very beginnings of the order in the 1850s up until the present day. The archive is not open to the public and does not have facilities for personal searchers, although exceptions can be made for Sisters and for academic researchers. Enquiries are welcomed by post only for privacy and confidentiality reasons and replies are by also letter. There is no fee for dealing with enquiries, although donations to the Sisters are appreciated.
- Fothergill, Anne Memoirs of a Nazareth House Girl (2013, Quoin Publishing). Memories of the Middlesbrough Nazareth House.
- Gray-Wilson, Shirley It isn't Always Raining: Children in Care, 1939-1948 (2000). Life in the Carlisle and Newcastle Nazareth Houses.
- Kelly, Judith Rock Me Gently: A Memoir Of A Convent Childhood (2006, Bloomsbury). A memoir of life at Bexhill Nazareth House in the early 1950s. The factual veracity of this book has been challenged, and charges of plagiarism levelled against the author (e.g. see Catholic Herald 2/9/2005). The introduction to the current edition of the book acknowledges some of these criticisms.
- Reilley, Frances Suffer The Little Children: The True Story of An Abused Convent Upbringing (2009, Orion). Memories of the Belfast Nazareth House.
- Nuns 'abused hundreds of children' (Guardian article 16/8/1998)
- Sisters of No Mercy (Guardian article 1/4/2003)
- Compensation for care homes abuse (BBC News item 15/8/2006)
- Sisters of Nazareth become second Catholic order to admit to child abuse (Guardian article 14/1/2014)
- Children at Derry care homes were made to eat vomit, inquiry told (Guardian article 27/1/2014)
- A Time for Penance? (BBC Scotland 'Frontline' TV feature on abuse in Scottish Nazareth Houses)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Mahood, Linda Policing Gender, Class and Family: Britain, 1850-1940 (1995, Univeristy of Alberta Press)
- Prahms, Wendy Newcastle Ragged and Industrial School (2006, The History Press)
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.