St Michael's Convent

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HCC Site ID: 1825 Parish: Waterlooville
Designations: Convent LB II Area:
Access: Historic site Ownership: 2013 Site being redeveloped

Location and site

The former St Michael’s Convent is located in Waterlooville to the west of the A3(M), on the A3 London Road, 300 metres north east of Waterlooville town centre within a predominantly residential area (Turley Associates 2012, 1 online). The Convent garden was on the eastern terrace, on level ground above the sloping banks of the Hermitage Stream. To provide access to the Convent’s burial ground on the opposite bank of the stream, steps were laid to descend to the stream where a bridge crossed it. The change in slope is approximately 6 metres (Turley Associates 2012, 30 online). ‘The underlying geology in most of the site is London clay and cross bedded fine and medium grained sands, partially cemented (CgMs Consulting 2012 online)(BGS Lexicon online).

Historic development

In 1885, a request by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth resulted in a Foundation of the Order of Our Lady of Charity, an enclosed order, to be established in Waterlooville to care for ‘destitute women and girls’. Some freehold property, fronting the London Road’ and 17 acres of land were bought. The site extended eastwards to the Hermitage Stream which forms a distinctive boundary. A footpath provided access along the full length of the property to the stream. The freehold houses and accompanying buildings provided a temporary Chapel, wash-house, laundry and accommodation for the women and girls. The earliest tombstone in the Burial Ground is recorded as 1890, some four years before a permanent Convent was built between the London Road and the Hermitage Stream.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Convent housed 60 women and extensions were made to the earlier laundry buildings. It is assumed that the laundry provided work for the women. Around this time improvements were made to the land around the Convent. A garden with flowerbeds, shrubs and a bower, was created on a terrace to the east of the Convent and an orchard was planted on part of the slopes that descended to the stream. More land to the south, adjacent to Hulbert Road, was bought to secure the privacy of the grounds. In 1963, St Peter’s Roman Catholic School was built on the site of the Convent Orchard. In 1999 the school was relocated and the buildings demolished.
On a visit in 2001, we noted that the terrace by the Convent was fairly bare and was bounded by two low thick walls that had planting on the top. At its northern end there was a sunken rose garden with a statue of the Madonna framed in a bower. Beyond the wall leading to the stream there was a wilder meadow with an orchard and greenhouses. The steps that lead to the bridge over the stream and the burial ground were in reasonable condition. The burial ground was surrounded by trees and shrubs with housing beyond. A conifer hedge gave privacy from the road on the southern boundary. The Convent had closed and the land was designated for redevelopment. Needless to say it all looked rather sad and neglected

Current description

In 2012, Havant Borough Council gave permission for the redevelopment of the area. This includes refurbishing the listed Convent into 17 apartments, the erection of 65 dwellings, alterations to access on the London and Hulbert Road, landscaping around the Hermitage Stream and public open spaces (Turley Associates 2012, online). The Design and Access Statement noted that the gardens were on the Hampshire Register of Parks and Gardens. However, it seems unlikely that any of the former garden will be retained.  The Green to the west of the Church is to be retained as a setting for the listed building.

HGT Research 2001 updated 2013

References

Maps
2nd ed OS 25” 1897,
3rd ed OS 25” 1909
4th ed OS 25” 1932
Other
Visit March 2001: Hampshire County Council Historic Landscape Architect and Researcher
Electronic sources [accessed 17 March 2012]
BGS Lexicon 2012 online (data.bgs.ac.uk/id/Lexicon/NamedRockUnit/BOSA)
CgMs Consulting 2012 online (http://www5.havant.gov.uk/AcolaidIntegration/GetDocumentContent.aspx?documentId=829821)
Havant Borough Council Application Number APP/12/00760 (http://www5.havant.gov.uk/)
Turley Associates 2012 ‘Design and Access Statement for St Michael’s Convent, Havant’ online as above.


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