The convent of the Sacred Heart is built on an historic site with a long Catholic tradition dating back to 1609.”
An old convent foundation known locally as the 'nunnery' or 'Great House' shared the grounds with 'Cupola House', the country residence of the Portuguese Ambassador. The history of both these houses is bound up with Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II. Catherine brought nuns back to the convent in 1668 and since then it has been in the hands of four different orders of teaching nuns.
Rooted in Tradition
In 1869 Archbishop Manning decided to convert the convent into a seminary but the original buildings were found to be unsuitable. By January 1876 John Francis Bentley, the architect of Westminster Cathedral, had completed the plans for the current Tudor styled buildings. By July 1884 the seminary was complete, consisting of a chapel, library, school, refectory, common room and upwards of sixty study bedrooms for staff and students.
In 1893 the the St Thomas's Seminary became the property of the Society of the Sacred Heart. By 1904 it was reorganised as a secondary school by the Board of Education with boarding and day pupils until 1926 when the school started to take only day pupils.
In 1948 the convent school was reorganised as a secondary grammar school, continuing as a grammar school until 1976 when the school received its first comprehensive intake.
Apart from the twenty years as a seminary in the late nineteenth century, this site has a 330 year tradition of contributing to the education of young women.
World Association of the Alumni of the Sacred Heart