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Digby Stuart College

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 99999 Digby Stuart
Held at: Roehampton University
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Full title: Digby Stuart College
Date(s): [1672]-2001
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: c 130 metres
Name of creator(s): Digby Stuart College
Society of the Sacred Heart


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Society of the Sacred Heart had been founded in France by Madeleine Sophie Barat (1779-1865) in order to provide a sound academic education based on religious principles for Catholic girls, with a great importance placed on teacher training. The first English foundation of the Society was at Berry Mead Priory, Acton, in 1842, and in 1850, the foundation moved to Roehampton, where a school was established. In response to a need for Catholic teachers after the Education Act of 1870, a teacher training college for girls was established at Roehampton in 1874. This was only a temporary home, the nuns at the Roehampton convent providing accommodation for the College until it could move to its new home, 'The Orchards' in West Hill, Wandsworth. The acquisition of the property and the organisation of the College were the work of an eminent English nun, Mother Mabel Digby, the superior of the Roehampton community. Obeying the government requirement that a practising school be established in connection with the College, Mother Digby duly set up a 'poor' school at Wandsworth, which flourished and proved a great asset to the students and the pupils. Charlotte Leslie was appointed as the first Principal.
In 1894, Mabel Digby left Roehampton for Rome, and was succeeded by Reverend Mother Janet Stuart, who worked hard to improve the system of teacher training at West Hill, and also encouraged her nuns to further their own education, often by taking degrees. Teaching followed the requirements laid down by the Department of Education, but was also expanded to include cookery and needlework. She also recognised developments in the teaching of younger children.
By 1901, student numbers had risen to 104, and in recognition of this the Society acquired St Charles' College in St Charles' Square, North Kensington. Students and staff from the Wandsworth College took up residence in 1905, and took the name 'St Charles' College'. The College continued to thrive, with students taking part in local religious and secular organisations, mainly relating to family welfare. The 1920s saw a growing academic link between St Charles' and Bedford College, and the setting up of the London Training Colleges Delegacy in 1928 only intensified the links with the University of London.
The College was evacuated to Cold Ash, Berkshire, in 1939, where they were housed in the noviceship house of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary: it remained there until 1946. The houses at Roehampton and St Charles' Square were heavily bombed and suffered significant damage. In 1946, St Charles' was sold to the diocese, and the decision taken that the College should return to its birthplace at the Roehampton convent. It was renamed 'Digby Stuart College', in memory of Mabel Digby and Janet Stuart.
The post-war era was a time of expansion. Between 1946 and 1953, the College was slowly rebuilt both physically and academically. New buildings were erected, including the East and South wings, the new Science and Primary Education block, and the Harvey, Fincham and Richardson blocks. Academic studies were developed, and the College became one of the constituent colleges of the University of London Institute of Education, which came into operation in 1949. In 1963 the three-year course started, followed by the fourth year BEd course in 1968 and the post-graduate Diploma course in 1971. Student numbers rose. Plans to form a union of the four voluntary teacher-training colleges in the south-west of London began to take shape in the early 1970s, with the four acting as an academic unity to offer BA, BSc and B Humanities degrees, validated by the University of London, from 1974. The Roehampton Institute of Higher Education (RIHE) was formally incorporated in 1975, with each of the constituent colleges - Froebel, Whitelands, Southlands and Digby Stuart - retaining its own corporate identity. The title Roehampton Institute London was subsequently adopted.
Though its degrees were validated by the University of Surrey from 1985, full university status was achieved in 2000, when the Roehampton Institute formally entered into federation with the University of Surrey and became known as the University of Surrey, Roehampton.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Digby Stuart College, comprising: Minutes of Governors' Meetings, 1874-1953; Student registers, 1874-1938; staff registers, 1886-1956; College Journal, 1911-1939, 1960-1968; Studies Journal, 1904-1968; papers relating to teaching practice and school visits, 1924-1953; papers relating to examinations, [1874-1939], including schedules and results; Inspectors' reports, 1874-1909; papers relating to the University of London Delegacy, 1932-1949, including the McNair Report, 1944; papers relating to the Missionary Sisters Course, 1931-1940, including the setting up and the running of the course, the syllabus, brochures, lecture material and a register of students; Warden's Book (West Hill), 1954-1967; papers relating to the Old Students' Association (later the Digby Stuart Association), 1874-1973, notably registers of old students, 1874-1957; rules and lists, 1874-1935; minutes, 1966-1975; material relating to Decade Lunches, 1956, 1969-1974; secretaries book, 1874-1961; newsletters, 1946-1954, 1970-1995; copies of St Charles' Chronicle, 1922-1945; copies of The Chronicle, 1920-1969; reports, 1946-1954; material relating to student activities, including copies of Prism, 1962-1966, Fleet, 1963, and Those Days, [1984]; papers relating to the Student Union, notably handbooks, 1972-1988; and press cuttings concerning student activity, [1980s-1990s]; papers relating to the College Centenary, 1974, including liturgies, committee papers, correspondence and press cuttings; scrapbook containing photographs and memorabilia, 1935-1946; material concerning conferences and meetings, 1982-1990s; material relating to buildings, notably Shaw House and the Jubilee Wing, [1994-1996]; papers relating to the College Chaplaincy, 1970-2000; material on the Roehampton Institute of Higher Education, 1973-2001, including annual reports, 1980-1994, press cuttings, 1974-1999, trust deeds, 1977-1978, and prospectuses, 1975-1995; papers relating to the constituent colleges pre and post RIHE, [1970-2001].
There are also working papers of several principals of Digby Stuart College namely:
Papers of Sister Mary Kathleen Richardson (Principal 1948-1969), comprising papers on subjects including three year training, the Robbins Report, the Committee of Principals of Roman Catholic Colleges, the University of London visitations, and the Association of Catholic Teacher-College Students (ACTS); as well as Academic Board minutes, 1956-1967, and documents on the governance and maintenance of the College.
Papers of Sister Dorothy Bell (Principal 1969-1989), including papers of the Committee of Principals of Roman Catholic Colleges; minutes and papers of the Academic Board and Academic Council, 1968-1988; correspondence on the governance of the College and the site, 1968-1982; papers relating to the Roehampton Institute of Higher Education, 1975-1987; College staff lists, [1966-1987]; lists of student numbers, 1968-1974, student nuns, 1969-1983, and exam results, 1969-1988; Annual Reports, 1971-1977; papers relating to involvement in Provincial matters, 1968-1973; papers of College Governors meetings, 1971-1989; papers of the Senate, 1975-1984; papers of the RIHE Council, 1975-1986; minutes and papers of various College committees, 1976-1989.
Papers of Sister Bernadette Porter (Principal 1989-1999), comprising papers of the Committee of Principals of Roman Catholic Colleges, 1990-1992 and the Council of Church and Associated Colleges, 1988-1992; papers of the Senate, 1989-1992; papers of the Committee of Principals, 1990-1991 and the RIHE Collegiate Committee, 1990-1996; minutes and papers of various College committees, 1990-1993; papers of the RIHE Council, 1989-1999; and papers of College Governors meetings, 1989-1998.

The College records are only a part of the English Provincial Archive of the Society of the Sacred Heart, which contains a large collection of archival material relating to convents, colleges and training schools founded by the Society. These records include papers of Cannington Priory Church and Convent, [1843-1975]; the convent at Roscrea, Ireland, [1842-1884], the first foundation in the British Isles; the convent at Woldingham, Roehampton, [1842-1992], including material relating to Woldingham School; the convent at West Hill, Wandsworth, 1874-1975, including papers relating to attached schools; the convent in St Charles' Square, 1905-1946, and Roehampton, 1946-1992, including papers relating to attached schools, [1906-1994]; the convent at Hammersmith, [1672-1994], including papers of the attached schools; the convents at Blackheath and Goodrington, [1903-1975], and Leamington, [1913]; the convent at Bonchurch, [1904-1975]; the convent at Tunbridge Wells, [1915-1973], with material relating to the training school; the convent at Oxford, [1902-1972]; the convent at Fenham, Newcastle, [1828-1998], including a history of the site and material concerning the attached schools and St Mary's Training College; and papers relating to small communities at Gateshead, Burnham, Bexhill, Blyth and Southall, [1984-2000]. The Provincial Archive also holds the papers of AMASC (World Association of the Alumnae of the Sacred Heart), NASHE (National Association of the Sacred Heart, England and Wales) and associated groups, 1957-1995.

There is a large collection of photographs relating to all of the above, as well as historical material relating to the Roehampton area, [1724-1995], mainly relating to buildings owned and including plans, deeds, and specifications relating to 'Roehampton House' (now Queen Mary's Hospital) and 'Parkstead' (now Manresa House); historical material relating to Wimbledon and Putney.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The Archive is arranged according to a classification scheme developed by the Society of the Sacred Heart.

Conditions governing access:

By appointment only, in normal office hours. Contact the Archivist for details. Some confidential material may be closed to the public.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies may be made for research purposes, at the discretion of the Archivist.

Finding aids:

There are finding aids for all sections of the Archive.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Various deposits and donations. Many records have been deposited as convents have closed.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Eileen Foster, 'Training College of the Sacred Heart for Catholic Schoolmistresses, West Hill, Wandsworth, 1874-1904'; Eileen Foster, 'St Charles' College, Kensington, 1905-46' (1999); Eileen Foster, 'Digby Stuart College, Roehampton, 1946-1975' (2001); Eileen Foster, A study of the foundation and development of an educational institution; St Mary's College, Fenham, 1905-60 (1998); April O'Leary, Living tradition: the chronicle of a school, Roehampton-Woldingham, 1842-1992 (Woldingham School, 1992).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Feb 2002

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