S. Margaret's, East Grinsted, Sussex.
Brighton: G. Wakeling, 1871.
To DR. NEALE the Church of England owes the foundation of those nursing sisterhoods, which by their practical usefulness have proved so fitted to the wants of the present time, and have shown how the very characteristics of the nineteenth century may be moulded by Catholic devotion.
The origin of the Sisterhood of S. Margaret will be best told in the founder's own words, from a sermon preached by him in the Oratory of the Convent, on the Feast of the Holy Name, August 7, 1862:--
"It seems to me but a day since (one dreary autumn afternoon), looking out on that vast tract of country which is overlooked by my study windows, along which the November rains were then driving in lines almost horizontal, and feeling the miserable inadequacy of--even however well it was worked--the parochial system to reach those poor scattered [5/6] cottages and huts, those distant farms and hamlets--much more (GOD knows I do not mean it unkindly) the system as here carried out--it flashed into my mind, If I could hut have women for that work! It seems but yesterday, that a day or two afterwards, in mentioning my thoughts to one who, though not present, is over you still, she said, 'Why not a sisterhood here?--and I will belong to it.' And so, through evil report and good report to the present day. So the three or four that commenced have multiplied into twenty-one; so having obtained help of GOD till this day, we thank Him and take courage; so we still believe that He will increase and multiply us; that the poor little seed will more and more become the great tree; and that the fowls of Heaven--souls created for Heaven--may more and more come and rest in the branches thereof."
Three years later, when on S. Margaret's Day, 1865, the foundation-stone was laid of a permanent Home for the Sisterhood, these hopes had increased in strength, and Dr. Neale could say, "When I look and see the crowd--for it is a crowd--of persons, and see their loving sympathizing faces, and then look back a few short years, and remember another crowd, the Lewes mob playing the 'Rogue's March,' and hunting the Sisters from the town; when I think of what had been and what now is, I can only exclaim, 'This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes!' Amid many trials, amid many imperfections, I can safely and heartily [6/7] say of the Sisters, that they know their work and mean to do it."
Another year, and the Sisterhood experienced their severest trial, in the withdrawal of their Master, who was taken from their head on the Feast of the Transfiguration, August 6, 1866, and they were deprived of his ever-watchful personal guidance. Yet his teaching is ever present with them, and they feel that
"The dead in Christ have still
Part in all our joy and ill,
Keeping all our steps in view,
Guiding them, it may be, too."
And the blessing of which he never doubted has been abundantly continued, and the Community has increased, notwithstanding all hindrances and drawbacks and trials, that might have crushed them if they had built upon a less sure foundation, far beyond his most sanguine hopes.
The object of S. Margaret's Home, at first intended for the sending out of Sisters to the scattered cottages in its neighbourhood, though beyond the reach of efficient parochial ministrations, had gradually become more extensive, and embraces, many distinct works, the chief of which is to visit and attend the sick, in fevers, small-pox, accidents, or other acute diseases (but not ordinarily in long chronic cases), in any part of the kingdom. They go out into the cottages of out-of-the-way villages, living among the poor in their own homes, [7/8] nursing them in any diseases, but more especially in those contagious fevers, when money will not purchase an attendant. They go wherever sent for, to any part of England, gratuitously, living as they may, sleeping where they may, getting on as best they may, in cottages, when either the clergyman, or the medical man, or any one else interested in the case, might ask for their assistance.
The following are some of the External Rules of the Sisterhood:--
"No person is admitted as a Sister unless a member of the Church of England; nor (if under the age of twenty-five years) without the written consent of her parents, or surviving parent.
"Each Sister (if she be able to do so) contributes 50l. annually, paid quarterly in advance, towards the maintenance of the Home. The sum contributed is settled between herself and the Superior, and the arrangement is confidential.
"The Sisters have free intercourse with their parents or their brothers and sisters at any time, but the visits of other relations and friends, and the time of such visits, must be previously approved by the Superior.
"The dress of the Sisters is grey, of materials suitable for their work, and without any unnecessary ornament.
"There is also an order of Associate Sisters, who being unable for the present to join the Sisterhood entirely, yet promise to give a certain portion of [8/9] their time to work at S. Margaret's, or at any of its Branches. They wear a distinctive dress when so engaged.
"Any application for assistance must be made to the Superior, with whom it rests to accept or decline it. [There is telegraphic communication with East Grinsted.]
"The applicant must state at the time (or if the telegraph be used, as soon after as possible)--
"1. For what purpose the Sister is needed.
"2. How long is it probable she may be required.
"3. Where it is intended that she shall lodge, and with what accommodation she can be provided.
"The applicant must consider himself answerable for her safety, the ordinary civility of her treatment, and her general superintendence.
"A Sister, if sent for by the clergyman, on arriving at the place where she is sent, is first to go to, and take her directions from, him.
"As the object of the Sisterhood is, not to provide support, but nursing to the sick; if any Sister, on arriving at the place to which she is sent, shall find her patient, in absolute want of necessaries, and, after laying the case before the proper person, shall fail to obtain relief -for her charge, she is to communicate at once with her Superior. The Superior may, if she think fit, assist [9/10] in supplying that which is needed out of a special fund provided for this purpose.
"The patients are remembered in the daily prayers of the Sisters.
"The services of the Sisters are entirely gratuitous, but of course any donation will be thankfully accepted. In ordinary cases, it is expected that the expenses of her journey will be paid.
"To prevent all possible mistakes and unworthy suspicions, any bequest made by a Sister; for the benefit of S. Margaret's, if dated less than six calends months before her death, will not be accepted without the written consent of the heir-at-law. If that consent be not given, the sum thus bequeathed will be handed over to some other Charity."
Texts, legends, &c., may be procured at S. Margaret's, illuminated to order for churches, or illuminated and framed for sitting-rooms.
Ecclesiastical Vestments, whether for Priests or Altars, are made to order. A list of prices can be had on application to the Superior.
Besides the actual Sisters, it is competent to any one, under certain rules, being a member of the Church of England, to become an Associate.
These Associates work and pray for the Society in their own spheres of domestic life, and have the privilege of repairing to the Home at certain seasons for retirement and prayer.
 There is also a Confraternity attached to the Sisterhood.
The following is a general sketch of the various branches:--
This is the Mother House of all; and from this those who are engaged in the principal work of the Sisterhood are sent forth as above.
There is also a Night School for labourers.
There is a separate school for boys engaged in work during the day, and a Night School for girls, members of the Guild of S. Michael and All Angels.
In the same House of S. Margaret is the Orphanage.
In this girls are received from any part of the country, and at any age. At present there are sixty-five.
They remain in the Orphanage till the age of sixteen or seventeen. They are then provided with places suited to their age and strength; and if at any time they leave these without their own fault, the Orphanage is their home while in search of another situation. The charge for these is 14l. a year, all expenses included; but the expense is estimated at 16l.
As these children are admitted from all parts of England, the Sisters feel that they may reasonably ask help from those who live at a distance from the work.
II.--S. Agnes' School.
This School is intended for the Daughters of Professional Men.
Instruction is given in all branches of an English education, and in French, music, needlework, &c.
There are three terms in the year.
Boarders are received at thirty guineas per annum, 10l. 10s. to be paid each term in advance.
Ten shillings a week must be paid for those who remain during the holidays.
Washing, one guinea each term.
Extras: Music (if taught by a professor), 2l. 2s.; German, 1l. 1s.; Italian, 1l. 1s.; Drawing, 1l. 1s., each term.
Drawing materials, music, stationery, and books to be purchased by the pupils.
Entrance fee, 2l. 2s.
Vacations: from December 20th to January 28th, and from July 28th to September 16th.
The terms commence on or about January 28th, April 28th, and September 16th.
A term’s notice is required before the removal of a pupil, or the fees of one term will be charged.
III.--A School of Ecclesiastical Embroidery.
The school consists of various classes:--
II.--Associates who, being taught gratis, will [12/13] be expected to give their work when required. Materials, and designs supplied to them in their own homes.
III.--The Pupils in the Embroidery School who are willing to devote themselves to the work, in return for their board, &c.
IV.--Visitors at S. Margaret's who will pay two guineas for a course of Six Lessons.
Any person desiring instruction in their own homes can have it on the same terms, with the addition of travelling expenses.
Note.--A Sister who has devoted herself to this work for some years, has undertaken the direction and instruction of this School of Embroidery. The following Architects and others have kindly promised their assistance;--
George Edmund Street, Esq.; George Bodley, Esq.; W. Burges, Esq.; J. Sedding, Esq.
The Sisters have begun a Class in London at the house of one of their Associates, t where, ladies are invited to give their time towards the revival of correct Church Embroidery. Private lessons are also given by the Sister, who attends one day in each week.
Class-work: hours, 10 A.M. to 1.30, and 2.30 to 5.30 P.M., every day except Saturday.
IV.--The Guild of S. Michael and All Angels
Is an Association for Young Women and Girls under the headship of the Superior of S. Saviour's [13/14] Priory. It consists of a number of young women of the poorer classes, joined together for mutual support in leading a pure and modest Christian life, and resisting the temptations which, so beset them; and this more especially with respect to that most terrible danger which is now beginning to attract the attention of even such newspapers as professedly act on only worldly principles, the crowding together men and women, boys' and girls’ into one room, the possessor of that room acting only on the principle of gain. By means of this Association, a hold can be retained over those girls who, having left school, might otherwise, have passed out of the sphere of wholesome discipline. The members of this Association number some hundreds.
V.--All Saints' Home, Wigan.
The Sisters opened a Mission in this town, in February 1866, for the purpose of nursing the poor, and opening Night Schools for the factory and collier girls.
To this has been added a Night School for men.
VI.--S. Saviour’s Priory, 18, Great Cambridge Street, Hackney Road, E. and S. Margaret's of Scotland.
United with S. Margaret's as a Society, but' perfectly independent Houses, are the Houses of S. Saviour's Priory, 18, Great Cambridge Street, [14/15] Hackey Road, London, E., and of S. Margaret’s of Scotland, at Aberdeen, the first attempt to introduce Sisterhoods into Scotland. It is in connection with the Church of S. John, Aberdeen; though it is hoped that it may be able, in course of time, to supply the Church of Scotland with nursing Sisters, after the plan of the Mother House. The work at present consists in visiting the poor, and teaching in the Day and Night Schools, and care of the Church.
Pecuniary assistance is greatly needed to carry on the work of the Sisterhood; and Subscriptions or Contributions will be thankfully received by the Mother Superior, S. Margaret’s East Grinsted, or by any of the supporters of the House mentioned in the list at the end of this book. Cheques or Post Office Orders may be made payable to the Superior, S. Margaret’s, East Grinsted.
The Sisters have commenced, and are carrying on, the building of a House suitable to their work. The foundation-stone was laid on S. Margaret’s Day, July 20th, 1865. It has been continued as a Memorial to the Founder, and that portion which is so far completed as to be habitable, was dedicated on S. Margaret’s Day, 1870.
It is still inadequate for the accommodation of the Community, as may be inferred from the fact that the East side of the quadrangle, not yet commenced, is to comprise the sleeping-rooms of all the professed Sisters (with the exception of three or four Office- [15/16] bearers, whose apartments are completed), and al the Dormitories and Class-rooms for S. Agnes' School.
It is therefore impossible, until further progress is made in the Building, to give up any of the houses hitherto occupied by the Sisterhood, though it is hoped that a portion of them may be sub-let.
Donations for the Building Fund (Neale Memorial) will be thankfully received by any of the Gentlemen to whom reference is allowed to be made.
Any person desirous of any further information, is requested to write to the MOTHER SUPERIOR, Saint Margaret's Home, East Grinsted; to the Chaplain, the Rev. L. ALISON; or to any of the following:--
FRANCIS BARCHARD, Esq., Horsted Place, Uckfield.
Rev. W. E. BEACH, Chaplain to the Forces, Horth Camp, Aldershot.
Rev. T. J. BOYLE, Bridge of Allan, Stirling, N.B.
Rev. E. S. BROWNE, Incumbent of Savernake Forest, Hungerford.
Rev. T. H. BUSHNELL, Vicar of Beenham, Reading.
Rev. J. H. CANOELLOE, M.A., Curate of Ash, Surrey.
J. D. CHAMBERS, Esq., 16, Princes Gardens, W.
Rev. JOHN CHANDLER, Vicar of Witley, Godalming, Surrey.
 Rev. E. M. CHAPLIN, Chilton Rectory, Steventon, Berks.
Rev. JAMES FAWCETT, Vicar of Knaresborough.
Rev. CHARLES FOWLER, Rector of S. Margaret's, Canterbury.
Rev. J. L. GALTON, M.A., Incumbent of S. Sidwell's, Exeter.
HAWKSLEY HALL, Esq., Mansfield, Hotts.
Rev. EDWARD HARSTON.
Rev. JOSEPH HASKOLL, Rector of East Bark with, Wragby, Lincolnsbire.
Rev. G. W. HEATHCOTE, B.C.L., Rector of Ash, Surrey; Winchester Coll.
RICHARD HOBSON, Esq., the Larches, Penrith, Cumberland.
J. P. KENNARD, Esq., Hordle, near Lymington.
Rev. A. C. LEFROY, Church Crookham, Farnham.
Rev. F. LLEWELLYN LLOYD, Rector of Aldworth, Berks.
ROBERT LODER, Esq., High Beeches, Slaugham, Sussex.
WILLIAM LONG, Esq., 16, Lansdowne Place, Bath.
W. F. LOWRIE, Esq., Governor of York Castle.
Rev. JOHN A. D. MEAKIN, Incumbent of Speenhamland, near Newbury.
FRANK J. MITCHELL, Esq., Llanfrechfa Grange, near Monmouth.
Rev. T. W. MOSSMAN, Rector of East and West Torrington, Lincolnshire.
 Rev. GEBARD MOULTRIE, Incumbent of Barrow Gurney, near Bristol.
Rev. W. NEVINS, Rector of Miningsby, Lincolnshire.
Rev. J. OLDKNOW, D.D., Vicar of Trinity Church, Bordesly, Birmingham.
Rev. FREDERICK PEEL, Malvern Link.
Rev. C. H. V. PIXELL, M.A., Incumbent of Skirwith, Penrith.
Rev. G. PROTHEROE, Rector of Whippingham, Isle of Wight.
Rev. J. L. RANDALL, Rector of Hewbury, Berkshire.
THOMAS SALT, Esq., Weeping Cross, Stafford.
Rev. E. P. SCOTT, Rector of Farnborough, Wilts.
Rev. JAMES SKINNER, M.A., Vicar of Newland, Great Malvern, and Warden of the Beauchamp Charity.
Rev. W. J. STRACET, M.A., Vicar of Buxton, Norwich.
Rev. J. SWAN.
Rev. FRANCIS TERRY, M.A., Arley Parsonage, Northwich, Cheshire.
Rev. HENRY THOMPSON, M.A., Vicar of Chard, Somersetshire.
COLONEL URQUHART, C.B., 1st Royal Regiment.
Rev. SEYMOUR WALPOLE, Newark, Nottinghamshire.
ROWLAND EYLES EGERTON WARBURTON, Esq., Arley Hall, Northwich, Cheshire.
 Lieut.-Colonel WATSON, Rothay Holme, Ambleside, Westmoreland.
W. H. WILCOCKSON, Esq., Thurland Street, Nottingham.
Rev. M. WOODWARD, Vicar of Folkestone.
Rev. E. MARSH WHITE, Fairstead Rectory, Witham, Essex.
FORM OF BEQUEST FOR S. MARGARET'S EAST GRINSTED.
The proper form by which any Benefactions may be given to the Sisterhood, to prevent any doubt or mistake, is as follows;--
I give the sum of £-- to the Institution called S. Margaret's Home, situated at East Grinsted, in the county of Sussex, to be paid exclusively out of such part of my personal Estate as I can lawfully charge with payment of Legacies to charitable uses; and I desire the same to be paid to the person who shall be the Mother Superior, for the time being, of the said Institution; whose receipt shall be a good discharge for the same.
NOTE.--By the Mortmain Act no Manors, Lands, Tenements, or other Hereditaments, or sums of money secured upon or directed to be laid out, or disposed of, in the purchase or on mortgage of lands, &c., can be given by will to any charitable Institution whatever.
 By the same Act it is provided, that all such gifts must be made by deed, indented, sealed, and delivered in the presence of two witnesses, twelve calendar months at least next before the death of the donor; and every such deed must be enrolled in Chancery, within six months next after the execution thereof, to take effect in possession absolutely and immediately from the making thereof, and no such deed will be valid, if it contains any power of revocation, reservation, trust, or agreement whatsoever for the benefit of the donor, or for any person claiming under him.
WHEN the Sisterhood first started in 1855, a small cottage in the parish of Rotherfield, rented for 5l. a year, sufficed for its needs. When it moved in the following year to East Grinsted, a larger house was already required, for which they paid 30l. For the many necessary buildings in which the Members of the Mother House were most inconveniently crowded, the rental is about 400l., from which they will be relieved on the completion of the new Convent.
In 1861 a short account of the work of the Sisterhood appeared in the Church Review, from which are taken the following extracts:--
"Of course the proportion of Sisters who are capable of such labour as this, able to bear the privations and exposure to weather which cottage-nursing involves, must always be small, and it must fall heavily on a few. But the labour has been borne; and it has been real labour, such as love alone can make for itself.
 "Here is the first trial: take it for a sample of others. There was a poor woman, the mother of a family, far gone in consumption. Her cottage was at Woodside, a lonely spur of Saxonbury Hill, about five miles from Tunbridge Wells, in the parish of Rotherfield, on the very edge of the wood that clothes the slope--whence the name. The poor woman was nursed, the Sisters taking turns, from July 1855, to March 1856, when it pleased God to release her. The family being a large one, it was impossible for the Sister to sleep in the house, except on occasions when she sat up with the patient. The attic of a cottage a hundred yards off was hired. You went up to it by a kind of ladder; a bit was rudely screened off by a curtain for a bedroom; the other part, through which the man and his wife went to their bedroom, was the sitting-room. It was merely the roof, with scarcely any side-wall; the loneliest and coldest of places, with the wind howling under the eaves, the snow drifting in through the holes in the roof, and innumerable mice holding high games there all night. But it did. And in that miserable hovel was solved the problem whether Sisters could live with the poor as poor. Sometimes the man was out, and then the Sister slept in the cottage. If he was at home, she returned for the night to her attic, and came down first thing in the morning to her labour of love. All the details of cottage labour fell to the Sister. She dressed and undressed the young [21/22] children, and kept the house in order. It was the first school for the Sisterhood. It was a school in which much was learnt.
"There are some parts of England where the poor especially suffer from fever. The low, marshy, unwholesome valleys of the Rother and the Eden, in Kent, are two of them. The Sisters were frequently called to their blessed work under such circumstances. Sometimes it was to the mother of a family who had nursed her daughters through the fever, and was herself seized the last; sometimes to a lone woman all helpless in her sorrow; sometimes to a widower with his motherless children all laid low together; and then, once, the Sister who nursed such an one and his little children, amid the raving delirium of death and the intense dread of infection which pervaded the neighbours, lived, day by day and night by night, in the same wretched hovel, a mere lean-to to the actual house, in the midst of a flooded swamp. Surely this was real service to CHRIST, sustained by the strength of His abiding love and power, or else impossible. An equally distressing case occurred some years since. Application was made for a Sister in a case of diphtheria. She went instantly. It was of a most malignant kind--spread through the household, and in five days she had, in that one house, attended four death-beds.
"But again: 'It came to my knowledge,' wrote the Rector of the parish to a friend, who permits us [22/23] to quote the letter, ' that a poor girl, servant to her bedridden sister, was ill with a fever at Edenbridge. I found her lying in a state of unconsciousness; no one was attending on her; indeed no one lived in the house except the sister-in-law, her little boy, about ten years of age, and the fever-patient. No nurse could be procured from the parish, for most of the women were out hop-picking; and of those disengaged, not one would come for fear of infection. The girl was actually dying from sheer neglect. I named the object for which the Sisterhood was established, and proposed to send to East Grinsted for a nurse. The bedridden woman's husband (my gardener) seemed disposed first to try if he could procure a nurse from the Union. He could not understand how a lady could undertake such an office; how she could live in a cottage and partake of cottager's fare; and I dare say thought she would rather be in the way than of any assistance. So I sent him up to Tunbridge to the Union, but in vain. The next day, therefore, I sent him over to S. Margaret's, and he brought back Sister ----. Until the following Friday the whole household work--cooking, scrubbing floors, &c., including attendance on the two sick women, and washing clothes left unwashed for a fortnight--devolved on her alone, for the dread of the fever had by this time increased: incessant labour, and watching day and night. On the Friday they kindly sent another Sister to her aid. The parish doctor said [23/24] something to this effect: "Now it may be of some use prescribing for this girl, but before either of you came it hardly mattered whether I ever visited her: my directions certainly were useless, for there was no one to see them attended to." A few days after this the poor girl died. The doctor then said, "Had either of you been here from the first, in all probability this life would have been saved." He seemed so to appreciate the real use of which these Sisters had been, that he expressed a strong wish to have their aid on future occasions. One other circumstance I must not forget to mention. The day after L-- S-- died, it was necessary that her body should be buried. A coffin was sent from the Union, but the bearer would only leave it at the outer door of the garden; he said that his orders were that he should not take it in. This work also the Sisters had to do unaided. They conveyed the coffin up the difficult staircase, placed the body in it, and screwed it down. I was glad to think that the Sisters' work was appreciated--I mean by the Edenbridge people; and this serves only to prove the truth of a poor old Methodist woman's remark, who, on returning from the meeting-house, begged to be allowed to shake hands with the Sisters, and said, "God must have sent you to do what you did, for the minister has just been saying that no one puts themselves out to do a good work for the LORD, unless the LORD sends them to do, it."'
"And thus it is not only a direct blessing which these Sisters bring to sick and afflicted bodies, but [24/25] they witness to the Church out of which they bring their blessing, and so win souls where no power of controversy can reach. Two ladies toiling like poor women in this cottage, trudging daily down the unwholesome strip of garden sloping away to the river, that they might fetch water for the washing of this deserted household, was a more powerful sermon than had ever been preached at Edenbridge. So they brought every pailful of water, and carried it a hundred yards at least to the stricken cottage with their own hands. There are other instances of the same kind. A lonely cottage near Markbeach, in Kent, where lay a poor old man and woman in typhus fever, was a Sister’s home for a fortnight in the very depth of winter, because no parish nurse could be persuaded or hired to go. So, again, at Four Elms, in the parish of Hever, a Sister tended a hopeless case of malignant typhus--hopeless from the first--in which the sufferer was hardly conscious for a moment. And for want of faith or love in others, she had, with her own hands, to carry the coffin up-stairs, and to place the body now at rest, over which she had watched in suffering, in its last earthly bed. A little orphan was left behind in this bereaved cottage. But the Sister was a mother to it, and took it to her own home, where she is now being educated and trained.
"The Archdeacon of Lewes thus writes:--'The conduct of the two Sisters, who have been employed as nurses in my parish, has been such as to claim my unqualified admiration and regard. I can never forget [25/26] that one of them came at a few hours' notice, and when help from other quarters had been sought in vain, to attend in a gentleman's family a maidservant lying between life and death under virulent typhus; and that, according to all human judgment, the life of the patient was, under God's providence, saved by her unwearied attention. The other has, for more than three months, been engaged in nursing a poor woman afflicted with a terrible cancer, day by day patiently ministering to her wants, dressing the shocking sore, living herself in the cottage, cooking the meals, and performing all the menial offices. Both have performed their work with all a Sister's devotion, and with a tenderness and care which mere money cannot purchase for the wealthiest. Nor, although for a time jealously observed, has either of them exhibited the least desire to set forth any peculiar opinions. They have obeyed their rule, which placed them under my direction as the clergyman of the parish; and their readings to the sick have been under my guidance. Had I so desired, they would have confined themselves strictly to the nurse's office.'
"Once more: see how the Sisters dealt with the family of a Dissenter. The report is from the Vicar of Cuckfield. 'November 26, 1856.--On Saturday week I was informed of a sad scarlet fever case in my parish. On visiting the house, I found six children suffering under the most malignant form of that disease, with no mother to take care of them, she being in a lunatic asylum. The cottage could only [26/27] be compared, with respect to its dreadful state, to a bad Irish cabin; and the poor father sat in one corner of the room, with a child four years old in his lap in the last stage of disease, the picture of helplessness. I soon found that no one in the parish could be got to help him, and I sent for one of the Sisters. They received my note on Saturday evening about nine o'clock, and at nine on Sunday morning one of the most efficient nurses I ever met with was at the vicarage, who went immediately to the house, where the state of things may be imagined when I believe that with the six children nothing had been washed for a fortnight. I should also mention that the man is of a peculiar temper, and we feared that he would not agree with a stranger. But everything in the house, the man included, became different a very few hours after the Sister made her appearance; and from that time to this she has never left the house, working incessantly by night and by day, with most entire cheerfulness and kindness, in a place where there is scarcely room to lie down. The man is a Baptist, and the poor child so very ill had not been baptized. Sister -- did not interfere in this matter at all; she left it to me; but her kindness towards the man had, I doubt not, a considerable effect in inducing him to permit me to baptize the child, which he did. The child is now dead, after the struggle of a week, though when the nurse came it was not expected to live from minute to minute. Her services have also, I am [27/28] happy to say, been highly appreciated by our medical man, who knows nothing of the Sisterhood but what he has thus seen. He takes every occasion to speak of them, and formally informed the Board of Guardians, with respect to three of the children, that, if any one of them lived, it would be owing to the nursing of Sister --. One of them died, but one is considered out of danger. This may be a long story, but I would not have it shorter, and could say very much more of the great value I have for the institution. I believe the work is one calculated, under God’s blessing, to do more to advance the interests of the Church than almost any other now being carried on, appealing as it does so directly to the kind and good feelings of people. The post has brought me the sad intelligence that the second Sister, who came to assist the first, has carried back the fever with her, and, although not taking it herself, has given it to another of the Sisters.'
"Indeed the vicar's information was too true. How could the Sisters claim exemption from the natural law of infection which enters so largely, as it needs must, into the probation of their work? From Cuckfield the scarlet fever was communicated to the Home. And the Sister who brought it there, and an orphan who took it, and the Superior, who caught it from the orphan, were all attacked in turn. Through God’s goodness their lives were spared. But for four months their efforts were crippled, and the strength of their little band was drained. And [28/29] again, later on, life was saved through losing it. One of the Sisters, who refused to spare herself in the midst of a raging fever, caught the disease and died. It was at East Grinsted. First the mother of the family and two children were nursed by one of the Sisters, and recovered. The baby next took it, and died in the lap of that Sister. She had sat up with it eleven nights--the worst and most painful kind of nursing--obliging the infant to be held in the arms all night. But the poor infant, which had been soothed in death and through all the long night watches in those arms, left the infection there, and it was conveyed to the Home. The events of Sister --'s last illness and death are known to many, by whom they can never be forgotten, or remembered but with gratitude to God."
Though the Sisterhood has doubled its numbers since this report was written, the proportion of those who undertake its special work of nursing is still small; partly owing to the failing health of those who have been long engaged in it, and partly to the inability of many who are otherwise capable of working hard, to carry out its more arduous duties. Still the work has shown a steady increase: from 31 cases nursed in 1862 to 90 in 1868. To which must be added that from August 31st to October 1st, 1864, the Sisters had the charge of the town of Caistor in Lincolnshire, with about 60 fever cases; from October 13th to November 11th, that of Hitchin, with about 70; and from October 20th to December [29/30] 8th that of Baldock. In this latter town, the whole number of cases was 236. From February 3rd to April 11th, 1866, the town, of Buglawton, Cheshire; while in the terrible fever at Terling, Essex, in 1868, three Sisters were sent from S. Margaret's, some of whom, with seven nurses under them, remained from January 24th to April 1st. Before they were summoned there had been twenty-two deaths. The population was 900, out of which not less than 300 cases occurred. The number of deaths declined from the time this nursing commenced, and throughout the twelve months which followed, only eighteen cases ended fatally. In Whitwich, near Leicester, from September 9th to October 22nd, and in Shippon, near Abingdon, from November 16th to December 12th, only one death took place after the arrival of the Sisters, though in the latter village, among thirty-five cases of scarlet fever, many were not expected to live.
At Wicken, in Essex, during an outbreak of typhoid fever, where in a population of about 200, sixty cases of fever occurred, a Sister, with the aid of a girl of 18, took charge of the School, which for the time served as a Hospital for the sick children together with the general supervision of those attacked in the village, from November 5th 1869, to February 15th 1870, and though there were some deaths in the village, there was not one among the little patients in the Hospital Since March, 1869, a Sister has had charge of the Infirmary of the Union in [30/31] Merthyr Tydfil, containing from 60 to 80 patients; and in January, 1870, a second Sister was applied for to nurse in a Temporary Hospital in the same place, when there were too many cases of fever to be admitted into the Infirmary. They had then about 40 cases, but the Sister took the fever, after about six weeks' work, and had herself to be nursed in the Infirmary, where every possible kindness and attention was shown her by all the Officers connected with the Union.
From January to June, 1870, the entire charge of the nursing at the Temporary Hospital for Relapsing Fever, at Hampstead, was undertaken by the Sisters, at the request of the Metropolitan Poor Law Board. A favourable report of this work has since been published by the Committee.
THE following account of the opening of the New Buildings, for the most part an abridgement of that published in the Church Times, may not be without interest.
Arrangements had been made with the railway company to issue special return tickets at a reduced rate, to those who were able to show their credentials as visitors to S. Margaret's, on July 20th, 1870. Those who remember going down in 1865 to assist at the laying of the first stone of the building, which, though only partially finished, was now solemnly [31/32] opened, could not but longingly recall the sight of Dr. Neale as he then was, with his hearty greeting waiting on the platform to welcome his visitors, and to conduct them to the spot then bare, where now those fair buildings stand, to which he looked forward so anxiously.
For the convenience of those who could not come down until a late train, the chief service of the day was fixed as late as 11.30. But the majority of the visitors had come betimes, indeed many of the Associates and friends of the Community had arrived 'some days previously, and every available lodging in the town was occupied. The train by which the Choir of S. Matthias, Stoke Newington, were to come, was unfortunately late, and it was nearly 12 o’clock before the Procession was formed at S. Agnes' School, about four hundred yards from the Mew Building, in the following order:--
(Banner of S. Agnes.)
S. Agnes' School.
(Banner of S. Margaret.)
Superior and Assistant Superior of S. Margaret's.
Builder and Clerk of the Works.
Layer of the First Stone, and Architect.
Preacher and Chaplain.
It was an exceedingly pretty sight, as this Procession, numbering over two hundred, including some sixty Priests in surplice, hood, and biretta, passed along through lane and field, singing the Gradual Psalms (Psalm cxx.--cxxxiv). The Orphans of S. John more especially, who came first, some of whom could scarcely toddle along, and the S. Agnes' school girls in their veils and white muslin dresses trimmed with blue, forming an effective contrast with the brown garb of the Industrial girls, and the sombre grey habits and black veils of the Sisters following. The banners glanced in the sun, and the white surplices of the Priests who brought up the rear, helped to complete a picture the full effect of which could scarcely be seen to advantage, save at a distance. On arriving at the temporary Chapel the great service of the day began. The Reverend C. Walker, of S. Michael's, Brighton, was the celebrant, and sung his part of the service with [33/34] great precision; the Reverends A. H. Mackonochie and J. E. Willington being deacon and sub-deacon. For the Sequence was sung Dr. Neale's Hymn for S. Margaret's Day; for the Offertory, his well-known Alleluiatic Sequence. Mr. Monk presided at the organ; on the building of which, by Mr. Walker, he has kindly bestowed much care and attention, with most satisfactory results. It had been intended that the Sermon should be preached in the open air, from the steps of the Cross in the quadrangle, but the unclouded blaze of the sun made it impossible to carry out this plan, and Father Benson preached from the pulpit in the Chapel, which, though crowded to the utmost, could not accommodate half the visitors, who thronged the cloister and passages, and were able to hear portions of the Sermon, which treated of the difficulties by which God's truest work was ever encompassed in this life, and the victory which faith and patience would accomplish when the object aimed at was in accordance with God's will. The best part of the Sermon, however, was that portion in which he referred most touchingly to the departed founder of the Community of S. Margaret's, and to the spirit in which all that he had begun was carried on.
The Offertory amounted to £682. Money is sorely needed by the Sisters now, for there is a builder's account of £1,700 to be met shortly, and a great deal more than this is required to pay off liabilities already incurred. Those who are more immediately [34/35] and personally interested in and connected with the work, have come forward most generously, and it is now for what we may term outsiders, to testify by their donations the appreciation they have of the works of mercy carried on by the Sisters of S. Margaret's.
If every reader of this account were to send at once but one shilling towards the funds, it would almost clear off the whole sum owing to the builder, and relieve the Sisters, who do so much for others, of a very pressing burden. After service the luncheon tent was the centre of attraction, and in a short time more than five hundred persons were seated at a substantial repast; Mr. F. Barchard, who had laid the first stone of the building, in the chair.
The usual toasts were given, short speeches made, and the memory of the founder drunk in solemn silence.
Vespers were sung at half-past four, and again the chapel was crowded. This was followed by a Te Deum, and by the admission of some new Associates, after which the visitors prepared for departure by the 6.15 train. Their places in the chapel were soon filled by the townspeople of East Grinsted, who, by way of showing their sympathy with S. Margaret's and its work, had begged for a late service, to which they might have admittance. This of course was cheerfully granted, and fully appreciated. Mr. Monk stayed to play at this service, and Dr. Littledale preached from Joshua xvii. 14, 15, applying the text mystically as illustrating the growth of the Sisterhood, and the necessary [35/36] enlargement of their house now that they had become a great people.
The workmen, with their wires and families, and many of the poorer neighbours, were entertained at a substantial tea and supper, fully sharing in the festivities.
It would not be right to close this account of the long-looked-for opening of the new building of S. Margaret's, without mentioning the names of a few of those--not less than a thousand of all classes--who came to show their sympathy with the Sisters on the occasion, and to fulfil the Scripture injunction by rejoicing with those that do rejoice.
Amongst those present were, of the clergy:--The Hon. the Rev. Canon Courtenay, Chaplain to the Queen, the Rev. Canon Woodard, Dr. Littledale, the Hon. and Rev. A. C. Stanley, Revs. A. H. Mackonochie, C. E. Lowder, J. E. Vaux, T. T. Carter, J. Thornton, A. K. Statham, Gerard Moultrie, H. D. Nihill, E. Husband, J. J. Elkington, T. A. Maberly, W. H. Campion, C. J. Le Geyt, T. J. Bailey; and of the faithful laity, besides the founder's widow and daughters. Lord Eliot, Rear-Admiral Baillie Hamilton, Captain Kemp, Mr. E. Barchard, Professor Bentley, Mr. E. Brett, Mr. E. Porter, Mr. Phelps, Mr. Bayman, and other friends from the Island of Madeira, where Dr. Neale's memory has been cherished since his visit a quarter of a century ago to its health-restoring climate, by which his valuable life was for so many years prolonged.