Lest we forget our story
It was a time of great privation and destitution when the Marist Sisters made the courageous decision to embark on service in Spitalfields one of London East End’s poorest areas.
Within four decades of the founding of the Congregation in France a group of five Marist Sisters made the hazardous journey from France to extend their mission in Spitalfields with the blessing of Cardinal Wiseman then Archbishop of Westminster and welcomed by the Marist Fathers who were already working in the mission The Sisters left their familiar surroundings and set sail on 5th July 1858 arriving in England on 23rd July - what a contrast with today’s travelling time.
For the Marist Sisters, 2 Osborne Place a two storey house which opened on to Brick Lane became home and school for the next five years. Priority of ministry for the Parish authorities was to provide education for girls enabling them and their families to attain a better quality of living. Boys were already provided for by the Marist Brothers who were running a school in Spicer Street.
On 9th August 1858, School opened with Sister Augustine Ashlin in charge of the Parochial School for girls and infants, accommodated in a workshop in a back yard and later relocated in Underwood Road. In Princes Street, Mile End, Sister Wilfrid Rook ran a mixed Infants School where boys and girls were taught separately as was the custom of the time. In both these Schools, pupil-teacher and lay help was necessary. It soon became evident that in order to achieve efficient and good standards the services of qualified staff would be vital and to meet the need Sisters went to train in the then Notre Dame Teacher Training Centre Liverpool.