Thursday, November 11, 2010

St. Joseph's Convent, Haunton Hall

I just woke up from a really vivid dream. I had gone to visit Holy Joes. I knew it would be changed, but was shocked to discover how completely different it was. I hardly recognized some places.

The driveway you'd go down to be dropped off at the beginning of school - the place where Rupert lived - I forget its name now - that whole area was filled in. They'd completely buried it in order to level off the grounds.

At one point I went into what was now an infirmary. I couldn't place where I was and then I looked at the arched windows that remained, and I turned around, looked up, and there was the choir balcony. I was in the chapel. (Funnily enough, I don't think the chapel had arched windows did it? That was just a weird construct of my dream). The whole back of the chapel had been opened up and now led to the outside.

I went through the back door of the infirmary/chapel and I couldn't even tell where I was. The new architecture was greco-roman and stunningly beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking. The sun was shining happily. The white of the marble was blinding. The carvings, reliefs, and statues were intricate. But all I felt was grief because I didn't recognize where I was.

I looked in vain for the cloisters. I looked in vain for the lower third window where I used to sleep that looked out on the roundabout by the cloisters.

I thought about Sister Concepta and Sister Marie de Lourdes and knew they were dead. I couldn't remember the names of any of the other nuns, but I knew they were dead.

Normally I'm pretty good at analyzing dreams. But I've never been good at analyzing the ones about St. Joseph's. I used to dream about going up and down the stairs right outside the 5th form bedrooms, that lead down to the dining room, and then further on down to the basement. We didn't call it the basement - what was it called? I forget.

At first the dreams terrified me. There was something evil lurking on those stairs. But then, over the years, I quit being scared and started to explore more areas of the school. The room opposite the tuck locker where Susan and I played with dolls for endless hours. The TV rooms. The music room. The dining room and kitchen. The cloisters, the science room. All these places so vivid in my memory.


It feels to me like this dream is something different. The dreams of St. Joseph's had gone from being terrifying nightmares to this one where something I loved had been completely destroyed. It had undoubtedly been made into something much more beautiful, much more grand - it was breathtaking. But it wasn't St. Joseph's and I grieved that I would never again be able to walk through the convent that I knew.


Caroline, Fleur, do you dream about St. Joseph's? Has it done a number on your brain like it did on mine? Can you write about it in the comments? If you are in contact with any other survivors (haha =D) can you send them here and ask them to write about how Holy Joes has affected them?

It's early and I'm still in a somewhat dream-fogged state.

In other news, Bert leaves for California tomorrow. *sigh*. The good news is that he's canceled his trip to Japan in December, so he only has to go to California then - hooray! So he'll only be gone for a few days rather than a couple of weeks.

Oh well. Up and at 'em.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean but think it is solely due to it having been such a large part of our childhood. For all the bad bits (of which there were many and at the time I hated it!) I do credit the school and Connie for making me the person I am today, some weaknesses, but for the most part strong and able to deal with most things life throws at me. I certainly received a far better education that ever I would have in the state system - only because the convent was so strict and we were pushed so hard. Without the pushing I would have sat back and achieved nothing. I believe you should always find something positive from an experience and boy, Haunton was an experience! However, the best things to come out of my time at Haunton are the friendships I made - still strong over 30 years later. Friendships that survive the test of time - and for my friendships alone..I am grateful. As for the rest of my time there.... well there is a huge collection of funny stories and memories to be passed on....
Flower. xx

Ritsumei said...

Fascinating stuff. Things you never knew about your friends - you went to school at a convent? I have dreams sometimes, and I'd bet that it would be *well* worth your time to spend some time praying about this. Especially where it's a series of dreams. Good luck figuring it out!

Keeley said...

Fleur, I totally agree - being a basically lazy person without being pushed I would have sat on my buttocks and done nothing.

I remember you were labeled a trouble-maker until Mrs. Martin (that was her name, right? The music teacher?) got hold of you and it turned out that my good gravy you could SING! And it seemed from then on you excelled - so dang smart.

I remember Mrs. Martin doing that for a few students. What an amazing woman she was. I wonder where she is and what she's doing now?


Ritsumei - What a great idea to pray about it. It has been a long series of dreams over many years. And yes, I went to a boarding school convent from age 8-15. It was an interesting experience.

angela said...

I am Angela

angela said...

Just woken up with a throbbing pain in my heart. And just wanting to revisit my childhood days. Been a series of soul searching moments in this season. Just googled Haunton Hall St Joseph's and there you were. You are Fleur, Flower, Keely? Which year were you in? Rupert the dog and Rhubarb puds rhubarb crumble, rhubard everything else, right. Sister Cecil Italian, Sister Anne Marie tall rosy cheek, Sister Benedicta, Concepta, Oh Sister Winnifred in the kitchen with sister Cecil, a few more...How are you?

Angela said...

Try this address for more contacts...

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=hp#!/group.php?gid=55416230440&v=app_2373072738

angela said...

Did you know for sure Sister Concepta and Marie de Lourdes died before you had the dream ?

Keeley said...

Hello Angela! I'm glad you surfed on in. Yes, I'm Keeley Smith. I can't remember what year I was. Hold on a mo. I was 16 in..uhh..1985. My sisters are Nicola and Caroline.

Rhubarb and custard! Love that stuff. =) I remember Sister Marie de Lourdes made me mad because she called Sister Winnifred - who was the sweetest nun out there barring Sister Cecil - an idiot because she'd fallen down the stairs and broke her hip.

I don't have a facebook, but thanks for letting me know there's a page out there in case I wish to join, =)

I knew Sister Concepta had died before I had the dream - I can't remember if I knew Sister Marie de Lourdes had died. She must have done by now, surely?

Angela said...

This is what is posted in Facebook for St Joseph's Group : Obituary for Sister Marie de Lourdes http://www.thisisannouncements.co.uk/6339122
Sister MARIE De Lourdes Late : Obituary - ThisIsAnnouncements - Central Independent Newspap
www.thisisannouncements.co.uk
. (16th September 2010)Sister MARIE De Lourdes Late of St. Joseph's Convent, Haunton. Passed away peacefully on 14th September, 2010 at St. Joseph's Nursing Home, Lichfield Road, Stafford. Funeral Mass to be held in St. Michael & St. James Roman Catholic Church, Haunton on Wednesday, 22nd September,...

Keeley said...

Oh my gosh. She died this year? Just a couple of months before my dream? That takes my breath away. I was so angry at these nuns while they were alive, how come I'm grieving now they're dead?

Angela said...

Grieve for those who have been a part of our life is normal. That is why forgiviness is critical to our well being. Is there anyone or memory still haunting, haha Haunton Hall as ther girls used to say Haunted Hall. Well let's pray for them to rest.

This was written after
Good to see some of the SJC remnants are alive. I am looking at the Silver Jubilee Year of Summer term long photo of so many of us. See how many i can name:
Karen Oliver, Karen Mckenzie, Sarah Spooner, Philippa George,Tina Labinjo, Averil Parkinson, Pamela Hau, Madeleine Shum, Paula Knight alias Elvis, Lisa Brosch, Pau...la Wilcox, Joanne and Anne Moorhead, Mary and Lucy Phelps, Harriet Yates, Caroline Egan, Caroline Edge, Sonia Wishahi, Polly Sharratt, Ann Adams, Alison Livsey, Alison Keam, Catherine Wilcox, Christina Velasco, Dianna Drummond, Debbie O'Gorman, Debbie Lyn, Maria Puy, Renooka Cheema, Rosa Quepo de Llano, Susan Powner, Susan Vaughan, Sally Matthews, Sally Deakin, and i am sure many more i have missed out..
See more
Wednesday at 15:23 ·LikeUnlike · Comment · View feedback (2)Hide feedback (2)

Angela said...

Are you in the States? I am going back to revisit UK next week for a month as i go wandering in this strange land again. If you happen to be in UK to meet up? Strangers in the land can be friends by a bond of love for a journey of the part of the journeying to reconcile the past.. if you like to connect can chat in face book too.

Anonymous said...

Just came back from UK and instead of meeting up with HOLY Jos i met up with degree lecturers and it was so unexpected to revisit another part of life's journey.

Anonymous said...

I was feeling nostalgic and googling my old schools and somehow landed here! I went to St Joseph's in the late '50's early '60's so am way older than you! Can't find any of my old school friends probably because they are less likely to be internet savvy.
The only nuns I remember are Sister Jeanne D'Arc and Sister Patrice (who was already old when I was there!).
I am in the States too and have been for many years and also have an LDS connection - my son is married to an LDS girl and they live in Utah.

Keeley said...

Thank you for your comment. =) That's so funny you ended up in the States too, and that your son married an LDS girl. =)

Anonymous said...

I really don't know how I ended up here, I'm Maria Puy I wen't to St Joseph convent 33 years ago, I've been looking for a really close friend for a while, her name is Rachel Simpson, she must around her forties. if you know any information about her, or any source of information that could help me to find her, please don't hesitate in contacting me.
Thank you
mjpuyf@telefonica.net

Keeley said...

I'm sorry I don't know how to contact Rachel. I hope you find her.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't sleep! For some bizarre reason decided to google st joes and u popped up. Not sure if my recent thoughts have been because sadly I lost my dear father a few weeks back which I am still struggling with and my childhood memories are all flooding back! Bit scary as I felt I had a very sad childhood with st joes playing a major part of this. My name is Harriet Elwes nee Yates I had 2 sisters also at the school Belinda and Berni I was there around 76 to 80 it would be interesting to hook up with any of my year do you know if there is a website for old pupils I don't do Facebook . Have just spent 2 hours trawling through Internet info on st joes all bit weird but I guess good to face your demons at some stage!!!

Anonymous said...

My mum is rachel Simpsons godmother! I have Mae a note of your email address Maria and will pass it on.
Tamzin

Keeley said...

Hello Harriet, thank you for your comment.
I guess we're all trying to make peace with the place! I hope you're able to find that peace. Healing takes time, but it does come.

Tamzin - so glad you are able to pass on the info to Maria! Yay! =)

Unknown said...

Just remembering:

ARMSTRONG Sister Concepta Of St Joseph's Convent, Haunton Passed away peacefully at her Convent on June 19th, 2006, aged 71 years. She will be sadly missed by her family, the Sisters of the congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of Lyon especially the Anglo Irish Region, Associates and many friends. Sister Concepta's funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, June 27th, 11.00am at St Michael & St James Church, Haunton, prior to burial in the Churchyard. No flowers by request, donations in lieu for Marie Curie or St Giles Hospice.

Unknown said...

Back in 1977, I moved to Oxford, after completing my O' levels at St. Joseph's Convent,Haunton Hall, Clifton Campville,near Tamworth,Staffordshire. My friend Jenny Wee (she now runs the ABX courier service in Miri) came along with me in a taxi to Oxford. You see, we both studied together for our O' levels at St. Joseph's..she stayed on to do some courses while I continued on to do a Diploma in Business Studies, offered by Oxford College of Further Education.

Keeley said...

She was only 71?!!?!? Holy cow. How is that even possible? That means she must have been only in her 30s and 40s while I was there. Gracious! I always thought she was soooo old, but really she was terribly young.

Thank you for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

cant believe what i just stumbled upon,cant believe thats u harry from st joes,just talking bout you last night,when we did fancy dress and went as arab sheikh and me as the petrol pump,we used to take the dogs rupert and giles out,its anita,anita austin,do you remember

Anonymous said...

The petrol pump seems to ring bell. But i definately remember Anita Austin, along with Wanda Knowles, Avril Parkinson, Tina Labinjo, Giselle Shcranz, Alison Livesey and the whole gang! Wow AA you are alive and well?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I attented that awful cruel cold school. Hated every single second of. Did anyone stay friends with anyone. I doubt it everyone just wanted to leave the place behind. God I feel cold and isolated everytime I think about it.

Keeley said...

Anonymous, there's a facebook group of people from Holy Joes; I was on it for a while until I deleted my FB account, and it was occasionally quite active.

What years were you there?

I saw the last Harry Potter film a couple of days ago - remember the one where he has all the students stand there and he says if you know anything you need to speak up? It brought back memories of Marks. What an appalling thing that was, to read out everyone's grade to humiliate those with a low grade. As I watched Harry Potter I was overwhelmed with memories of how it used to *feel*, being in that stupid, sadistic meeting.

I have stayed friends with some people; funnily enough, not the ones I would have expected. =) Clare Hold (Isherwood) and I exchange cards often. Clare *always* remembers my birthday and wedding anniversary. It never fails to warm my heart when her cards arrive. There are several other people I exchange Christmas cards with.

Unknown said...

Is this Harriet Yates or another victim of the past of this Strangeland of the Holy Jos. I am Angela Wong who did feel part the cold isolation of this place too. But somehow there were still rays of sunlight when i get to hear from some of us who have walked this challenging journey and is still alive today :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sitting on the sofa just surfing the net and thought why not look up my old school, then came across all of your conversations. I didn't think anyone would care to remember the place.... Actually I never really wanted to remember it!! I can't say it was a happy time, but its good to know that some still remain in touch. I can remember all the nuns but few of the teachers, in fact I can really only remember Mrs Valentine, and the French teacher. I suppose I wasn't there that long in the end.

Anonymous said...

Last entry Student of SJC there is a FB St Joseph's Convent Haunton Hall entry see whether you can see some of us from this place where we have journeyed. Yes i remember gym teacher and Mrs Morton we used to play tennis !!

radioc said...

Sorry Keeley - just seen this link.

Don't have nightmares about holy joes! don't think about it I'm afraid.

It did take me 19 years to actually go back to the building and look round - Mo was really astonished over how I was feeling!! but it was where I grew up!!!! so lots of time there.

I'm thankful for the friends I have from there but I don't have any fond memories apart from friends. hated every minute of being there and glad it closed down. Dirty, smelly, cold dreadful school. Can you imagine if it was still open - ha they would have had a change a lot with all the news rules etc in place now.

Chat soon x love you loads x

Keeley said...

It must have changed a lot when you visited it? It really was dirty, smelly, and cold wasn't it? The tops of my toes still have scars from the chillblains. =)

Janet Edwards said...

Hello . I am a former border of St Joseph's Convent ,Haunton Hall.My name at the time was Janet Goslin and my sister Alex was also with me .I have very happy memories of the school and was very sad to leave.Our time there was late sixties early seventies.Names of friends are vague but Claire O,Shea was one also a girl called Rachel who was from Fiji.Strong memories of a night in the dormitories pulling each other along on our towels on the wooden floor boards where I ended up getting a huge splinter in my bottom. The Sisters were not amused !!!One of the huge impacts on me was a Miss Coxen who taught with a force!!!!!remember she wore long pink bloomers.The only thing I hated was bath night.Hardly any water and always cold.Huge Rhododendron bushes that we played in.The list goes on of many Happy memories.Would love to hear from any one who might remember me

Keeley said...

Hi Janet! Oh my goodness, the splinter in your bum sounds SO painful - and very funny. =D

Are you on Facebook? I know there is a big holy Joes community on there.

anita austin said...

Harriet. This is Anita.my email is rozzi427@gmail.com.