Teachers reminisce St Martha's Catholic School, Barnet's, rich history

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Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Teachers new and old reminisced about their school’s rich history as it reaches its 110 year anniversary.

St Martha’s School, in Camlet Way, Hadley Wood, was first opened in December 1903 in a little shop in Wood Street, Barnet, by the four sister of St Martha.

They came to the borough from Perigueux, in France, and within two years their school housed 15 girls so it was moved to Park Road, Barnet High Street.

By 1911, they added a chapel to the school and had 60 children - including eight boarders.

It was run purely by catholic nuns, and although today it has a lay headmaster, their role in establishing the school is still celebrated today.

Headmaster Matthew Burke said: "It’s got a very rich history. So much has happened over the years and there have been so many changes.

"It’s important to keep it all alive and remember how the school used to be. It’s part of our history after all."

In 1924, a ‘stone parlour’ was built which later became the area where girls who misbehaved were sent before seeing the headmistress.

During the Second World War, the sisters built an air raid shelter where the girls would sleep - until it became too damp - so they sought shelter in the corridors and rooms of the school.

But on January 31, 1941, two sisters in the Bethany house were killed by a falling bomb.

Despite the trying times, the school was relocated to the Grade II listed The Mount House in Hadley Wood in 1947, where it still remains today.

To celebrate its milestone birthday, the Sister Cecile Scholarship has been established in tribute to a previous headmistress, who led the school from 1976 to 1988.

Mr Burke added: "It is a wonderful milestone for the school who will also be celebrating 70 years at their current site in 2017 which will provide more opportunities to celebrate the success of the Sisters and members of the extended St Martha’s community."

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