Parish History -The Sisters


ivy houseAfter much negotiation and delay, the first nuns had arrived from Austria just before the outbreak of war in 1914, and established themselves in a house in Providence Row. During the First World War, because of their nationality, they suffered much, but they weathered the storm; and with the purchase of the new land they moved into Ivy House, remaining there until 1920 when they were able to buy their present property in Mangate Street. The Priest was then able to move into Ivy House; and Mass was then said in the old Stables which he had vacated.

The Sisters in their Convent, and in particular in the Sacred Heart School, positioned in the centre of the town, have been and are vital witnesses to the presence of the Church in Swaffham. The teaching of the Catholic faith to generations of girls in particular, but also to boys, has had a great influence on the spiritual life of many. Sacred Heart School, at the beginning of the 21st century must be one of the few remaining Convent Schools in England that is still actively led by Sisters, and continuing to profess the old virtues of good manners, service, well-grounded education all based on the principles of the Catholic Faith. And at the same time it is well up on modern trends and ideas, successful in public exams, but still small in numbers so that each child is truly known by the Sisters and the Staff. And for the last 80 years the Sisters have also been very visible in the secular activities of the town, with a number of them have been well known as strong personalities who have contributed much to the life of the wider community. The School premises - with its large gym and sports hall, and more recently converted barn - have often been welcome venues for functions other than those put on by the school. All this has helped to show that the Catholic Church is truly a presence for good in Swaffham, not cut off from the community but right in the midstream of its life and activity.