History of the School
Virgo Fidelis Convent School has a long history of education and working with the young.
The Mother Foundress of the Congregation, Mère St Marie (Henriette le Forestier D’Osseville), was born at Rouen in France on 18th April 1803. She was inspired from her childhood with a deep faith and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Ancient Marian Shrine of La Déliverande in Normandy was her chosen place of worship and prayer.
On the 3rd April 1826 her younger sister was miraculously cured and it was at La Déliverande that the Congregation of Our Lady of Fidelity was born, with a mission to welcome, love and educate orphan children.
The Mother Foundress was a gifted and saintly educator who showed a deep concern and perception of the needs of children. She was endowed with unusual strength and perseverance to overcome numerous obstacles.
She achieved her vision, and on 26th February 1831 successfully established the Congregation of Our Lady of Fidelity thus initiating a unique educational provision which continues today.
The work expanded, and on 14th September 1848 Mother St. Mary, having heard of the plight of Catholic Orphans in London, founded the House of the Congregation at Norwood.
Fidelis School was opened in the same year and today forms part of the international group of educational establishments directed by the Religious Congregation of Our Lady of Fidelity.
Guided and influenced by love, the aim of Fidelis Educators is to encourage each student by praising what is well done, and by creating a caring environment which promotes achievement, personal and academic fulfilment, self-esteem and a sense of personal responsibility.
The aim of Fidelis is inspired by the educational ideal of the Foundress:
‘You will have gained everything when you give children the desire to do well.’
The convent school first started life in St Mary's Lodge (formally a hunting Lodge and then later known as The Lodge Hotel shown to the right) and was fortunate to gain the support of the Catholic Church with the blessing of the Pope. This represented the first Catholic Orphanage in England since the re-formation.
Generous donations allowed the phased construction of the main buildings as we see them here to the left side of the picture. Centre right and surrounding is the farm that provided fresh produce.
This view of the convent school, surrounded the then green and pleasant farmland also portrays in the distance the 'Crystal Palace Exhibition Centre' which had been re-located from Hyde Park in London to a newly formed 200 Acre park located off 'Sydenham Hill' and re-opened by Queen Victoria on June 10th 1854.
Sadly after standing for nearly 82 years in its new position the Crystal Palace itself was destroyed by fire on November 30th 1936 after having given its name to, bringing prosperity to and developing the area. The glow of the fire was witnessed by many up to 30+ miles away in the surrounding counties.
We know that this print dates from between 1896-1900 as the 'New' Convent wing in the background is depicted together with the earth spoil heap just to the right hand side of the Convent (a photograph also exists depicting this). At this stage the Library wing has yet to be built, this was constructed in 1900.
This particular print started life as a black ink print and has been watercoloured with great patience by an 'unknown artist' to create this wonderful and very recognisable depiction of the Convent School and its site as it existed then.
We give thanks to all who have helped and supported the Sisters. Whom with their selfless dedication, have over the past 160 years achieved so much to help literally, thousands of children. And continue their work, to support the Children, the young and the community, well into another Century.
Today, Virgo Fidelis Convent School is helping to lead the way, at the forefront of technology to continue that work started all those years ago.