The Convent

A Memory of Bridport

My father died the year after I was born and his employer Burton's, provided for myself and my three brothers to attend private schools, which is how I came from London to the Convent at the age of 4. I followed my brother Colin who had been boarded there for a number of years. Even today I still have nightmares about the place and the horrible way the nuns treated the children. We were required to remain in our seats even if we needed to go to the toilet. Subsequently many kids soiled themselves or urinated where they sat and were brutally punnished for doing so. At bedtime the nuns checked underwear to look for mistakes that might have been otherwise overlooked. In my 3 years of residence I remember slaps across the head and face; rulers across my knuckles; and yes, I remember the cow on the railings who groaned in pain, his eyes wide open as he waited for death to come to him. I remember arrogant priest visitors we had to serve with cakes and cookies we were not allowed to have; I remember polishing those endless wooden floors and long refectory tables;I remember the black pudding full of grizzle and weak pea soup we were required to eat; and the interminable silence we were so scared to break. I remember the cold, dark latrines on the right side of the photo and the spiders. I also remember occasional joy with the arrival of a letter from Mum or a parcel from home wrapped in brown paper with string and red sealing wax.
In 1960 I went back to take a look and found the Convent had been converted to a home for the aged and thought how absolutely tragic that these evil nuns could catch the innocents at both ends of life to make it into a living Hell.
Someone wrote that the Convent was demolished in 2000.
Too little, too late. This should have been done while the nuns were still in it back at the turn of the century, to give kids like me memories of their early school years they would never dread recalling.

A memory shared by Alan Noon , on Jan 13th, 2008.

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