Nuns buried at Foster Hill Road Cemetery
The Daughters of the Holy Ghost (DHG) were a teaching order of nuns based in a convent at St Brieuc in Brittany. When, in the early 1900s, the French government introduced severe anti-clerical laws intended to prevent Catholic religious orders from teaching, nuns were sent to the UK to establish Catholic schools for girls, in Abergavenny, Bedford and Ingsdon (Devon).
In Bedford, the nuns (who first settled in Lansdowne Road) took over (in 1914) the premises of the Crescent House Ladies’ College at 112-114 Bromham Road, which became the Convent of the Holy Ghost School, as well as the Bedford Convent.
In 1958, the DHG acquired the former Manor House Hospital at Clapham Park, which became the main Bedford Convent, though some nuns continued to live at the School or nearby. The Convent School had a preparatory department (also admitting boys), called St Mary’s, at 118 Bromham Road (formerly Stamford House, a Bedford Modern School boarding house). The Convent School closed in 1974, and was replaced by St Bede’s Voluntary Aided RC Middle School, which itself closed in 2006.
The site has now been developed as retirement flats, retaining Nos 112-114 as well as the smaller (older) house at 116. No 118 was sold in the 1980s, and became offices of an estate agent. Clapham Park was sold for conversion into apartments in the early 1980s. New houses were built in the grounds, and the main house is now a single dwelling again. Among the nuns who are buried in Bedford Cemetery will be some of the teachers at the School. All the DHG Schools in the UK had closed by 1974.
The Central Grave (see main photo) is Sister Therese Du St Esprit Queouron (Mother Therese) was born in 1860 in France. She came to England in 1903 and worked for 18 years in the Holy Ghost Convent in Abergavenny. This was Followed by 5 years in Pontypool. She arrived In Bedford in 1926 and retired in 1938, when she was a partial invalid. She died, aged 91 years, on 25th February 1951 while still in the convent. A Requiem Mass was held at the Roman Catholic Church in Midland Road on 27th February 1951. This was followed by interment in Foster Hill Road Cemetery.
The grave to the left has 2 inscriptions, one on the front and one on the back. The front one is to Sister Athanese de Jesus Furic. She died on 13th April 1950 aged 74 years. The death is registered in Holborn as Anne Furic. On the reverse side of this stone sister Irene de Marie Fragel is commemorated. She died on 19th November 1942 aged 22 years. Her death is registered as Barbara N Fragel, but in her obituary in the Bedfordshire Times, she is listed as Irene (Mary) Fragel.
The graves to the right, facing the path, has 3 inscriptions. The front one is to remember Sister Imelda Conlan, fille du Saint Esprit. She died on 18th December 1925 aged 37 years. Her death is registered as Mary Ellen Conlan. To the left side is Sister Marie Cecilia. She died on 18th November 1932 aged 48 years. Her death is registered as Marie Louise Elien. On the reverse of the stone is Sister Jeanne Raphael Donovan, fille du Saint-Esprit. She died on 21st November 1924 aged 24 years, and is registered as Doris Donovan.
Sister St Marguerite Gascoigne, who died on the 11th November 1951, is buried in another part of the Cemetery. Her death is registered as Margaret Gascoigne.
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