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Report - Our Lady's Convent, Kettering - Oct '10

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by mongrel, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. mongrel

    mongrel 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    Hi all!

    I found this place totally by chance the other week and though it may well be worth a look. So… welcome to Our Lady's Convent Kettering, aka Bryn Hafod.

    For clarity, the two building on the site are Bryn Hafod (my pictures are of Bryn Hafod) and Middlewest. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to investigate Middlewest. Pictures of the outside of Middlewest can be seen here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11571012@N08/sets/72157613296849891/with/3251168607/
    Please note that these are not my pictures, so thanks to whoever you are!! (you can see the hopscotch picture from mine in their number 8!!)

    A little history first…

    If you don’t know who Charles Wicksteed (of Wicksteed park fame) is….
    http://www.wicksteedpark.co.uk/About-Charles-Wicksteed.aspx

    This next extract is taken from a Development Brief to inform any potential planning application for development of the site and is quite interesting in their discovery of 2 listed buildings on the site.

    Background to the submission of a development brief

    Your officers were approached by representatives of The Convent of Our Lady at the beginning of 2004 in respect of the future of the Convent and Preparatory School and the land associated with those buildings. The desire to investigate the potential development of the site had come about following the planned closure of the school. Initial discussions took place with Theresa Nicholl and Martin Ellison, the then Conservation Officer for KBC, together with planning policy officers.

    It soon became apparent that the site was special in terms of some of the buildings, one of which was grade II listed – the listing at the time referred to the convent building but the building described was in fact the school [Middlewest] which was designed by Henry Gotch. Other buildings on site, particularly the Convent were notable and in addition the curtilage of the building and grounds in general contain landscaped gardens and several large tree specimens of quality. Following further research by Martin Ellison together with colleagues at the County Council it was established that the Convent (named Bryn Hafod) was also designed by Henry Gotch for Charles Wicksteed. Subsequently a successful application was made to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (dcms) to have Bryn Hafod listed. There are therefore two grade II listed buildings on the site.

    Interestingly, Bryn Hafod is where Charles Wicksteed spent his last days – indeed he committed suicide here…

    This is an excerpt from ‘A history of the Wicksteed Park Railway: the story of the railway and park’ By Peter Scott:
    On 25th February 1931, Charles Wicksteed was taken ill with a severe attack of influenza, followed by slight pneumonia and fits of deep depression and sleepiness. He was confined to his bed at Bryn Hafod until Saturday 14th March, when he attended an event in Wicksteed Park. With his health slowly improving, although still suffering from depression, he again visited the park on the afternoon of Wednesday 18th March and inspected the paddling pool. That evening he retired to beat 10.30pm and slept until about 4am on Thursday 19th March 1931. It seems he then awoke and, distraught with depression, went to the kitchen, put his head inside the gas oven and killed himself. He was found sometime after 6am by one of the maids who had smelt gas. He left no note, nor made any mention of taking his own life. The coroner recorded a verdict of “suicide whilst of unsound mind†at the inquest held on Friday 20th March 1931 at Bryn Hafod.
    It’s also interesting to note that other websites list Charles Wicksteed’s cause of death as Influenza or Pneumonia….. few acknowledge suicide!

    Very brief timeline after Charles Wicksteed’s death:

    1938
    The order of Ursuline Sisters arrived in Kettering from Germany and set up a high school at Lonsdale in Kettering, which was nicknamed the Castle and is now the surgery in Headlands.
    They also established a junior school.

    1940
    They purchase Middlewest in Hall Lane. This was the convent as well as the High School. The Headlands then became a junior school only.

    1944
    The sisters took over Bryn Hafod from Charles Wicksteed of Wicksteed Park, which became the convent for the sisters only.

    1950
    Hall Close in Northampton Road was bought and became the high school, Middle West became the junior school and the Headlands site was closed.

    1954
    The Ursuline Sisters returned to Germany and were replaced by the Sisters of Our Lady.

    1972
    Our Lady's Convent High School at Hall Close closes.

    2003
    The Junior school closes end of the summer term.

    The latest planning application (no. KET/2008/0824) states:
    “Demolition of extensions to Bryn Hafod and Middlewest. Remedial work to external elevations. Reinstatement of terrace gardens forming private curtilages. Conversion and extension of Bryn Hafod annex to create 2 no. town houses and retention of existing cottagesâ€

    As you can see from the outside pictures, this demolition is very much underway now!

    If you want a little further light reading:

    http://www.kettering.gov.uk/downloads/appendix_b_part1.pdf
    http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-230081-convent-of-our-lady-kettering
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2261564058#!/group.php?gid=2261564058&v=wall

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and looking at the pics!


    Aerial Image, you can see that the huge pile of rubble is all that’s left of the building with the grey rectangular roof! The Chapel is hidden in the trees the opposite end of the house.
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    the builders have very kindly made a walkway of old doors to stop my feet getting dirty. How considerate!!
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    this looked like a disaster waiting to happen… Madame Guillotine anyone?
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    room in the attic
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    roof space
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    and moving downstairs….

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    reception hall
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    chapel
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    down to the basement, there really wasn’t anything down there apart from an old boiler
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    Cheers for looking!!
     

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