1932 - 1940

By Yvonne Bingham (nee Zanetti)

I started school at the age of 5 in 1932 at the Convent of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Church Hill, Newhaven.  Boys could attend the school until the age of 7. It was also a boarding school and the 'mother convent' was in France.  Our school uniform consisted of a gymslip with a white blouse and tie for the summer, and a blazer and Panama hat for the winter, navy blue overcoat or Trench mac and a velour hat. We were not allowed to go to school without a hat and when we were older we had to wear black stockings.

We had to say prayers in the Chapel before school and prayers before going home to lunch and before the end of the school day. We had a hard tennis court in the grounds and played netball there also. In the summer we walked in crocodile through the grounds, along Nun's Walk to the grass tennis courts (now houses in First Avenue stand there). Before playing tennis we had to say a prayer in the grotto at the end of Nun's Walk. There was a statue to 'Our Lady of Lourdes'.  The bungalows in Neills Close are built on the Convent fields. We had a few cows to provide milk for the Convent. The nuns also grew vegetables and employed a Cowman and Gardener. They also kept a laundry and were quite self-sufficient. Mr Howell in Chapel Street used to make shoes for the Nuns. At mid-morning we could have hot or cold milk or cocoa. In the summer there was a school fete and the children danced around the Maypole, our school efforts were also shown off. There was also a procession of children through the town to the Church in Fort Road, called Corpus Christie.  At the end of the year each class put on a play for parents and this was held in Meeching Rise. I was the Fairy Queen in Sleeping Beauty.

We were evacuated to Billingshurst early in 1940 and during that year the Convent was bombed along with other buildings in Newhaven. A Nun was killed, and the Nun's never returned to Newhaven as they had a successful school in Billingshurst. This continued until the Nun's retired.

When I left school I went to secretarial college.  When I look back at my school days, it was a strict environment and we had to follow the rules, but I remember happy days.


Photo:Sleeping Beauty: Tessie Simmonds, Yvonne, John Milne

Sleeping Beauty: Tessie Simmonds, Yvonne, John Milne

Yvonne Bingham

Photo:Sleeping Beauty:Yvonne, Pauline Wood, Patsy Winder, John Milne

Sleeping Beauty:Yvonne, Pauline Wood, Patsy Winder, John Milne

Yvonne Bingham

Photo:Gates to Convent

Gates to Convent

Newhaven Postcard

Photo:Entrance to Chapel

Entrance to Chapel

Newhaven Postcard

Photo:Convent grounds

Convent grounds

Newhaven Postcard

Photo:Inside Chapel

Inside Chapel

Newhaven Postcard

Photo:Inside Chapel

Inside Chapel

Newhaven Postcard

Photo:Statue: Our Lady of Lourdes

Statue: Our Lady of Lourdes

Newhaven Postcard

This page was added by Sylvia Woolford on 07/05/2010.
Comments about this page

Second picture from the top. I think the girl third from the left is my mother Pauline Greenwood. She attended the school from about 1935. Her father (William) Ernest Greenwood was a local farmer who later took over The Chequers Hotel at Maresfield.

By Caz Sutton
On 04/12/2013

I attended this school, with my cousin Freda Chant, for a short period in approx. 1938. I would have been 4 or 5 years of age. I remember it being a very strict regime. 

By John Winter
On 29/04/2018

So interesting I lived in the flats in 1949, then my Dad built us a house in the convent grounds, its still there Meeching House. We had part of the Chapel in our garden, then a library and a huge mulberry tree. We had the hedges round each bit of the big garden with 95 apple trees. I left home at 15 to go to London to be a ballet dancer, which I did. Just moved back to this area after 60 years.

By anne gasnola ne hall
On 28/07/2021

My mother, Betty Johnson nee Reynolds attended the Newhaven convent aged 5 in 1928 and was taught by Miss McCarthy, who became Sister Peter. She had to leave in 1931 when her father was bankrupt in the depression, but returned as a boarder in about 1934 and recalled a very happy time there until she left to join the WRENs in 1939. I have pictures of the Corpus Christie processions through the streets of Newhaven. She converted from the C of E to become a Catholic in 1940.

By Margaret Payne
On 06/05/2022

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