Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Heads or Tails - Where or Wear

Skittles started a meme some time ago called Heads or Tails and I try to take part most weeks. This week the theme is either Where or Wear however I can cover both in this post.

My boarding school was in Ascot, Berkshire, England. It was an Anglo-Catholic convent which means that it was very high church Anglican, we had mass in Latin and the nuns wore the long habits and old fashioned head attire called wimples. The church did not acknowledge the Pope as the head of the church but the reigning English monarch. This went back to tChurch1he split from the Roman Catholic church during the reign of Henry VIII when he decided to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry his mistress Ann Boleyn.

Every Sunday we would attend two services in the church you see here. My place was on the left side in the front pew which you can just see on the bottom of the picture. We had a special uniform for Sunday's which made us look like little nuns. The dress was a lovely shade of blue, high necked, long sleeved and came to below our knees but made from a fabric which must have been created for penitents. It was the most itchy material you could imagine. Also it was required on Sundays that we wore veils to church. A white piece of cloth tied over our hair and hanging down to the middle of our backs. A school of mini nuns. My hair is quite fine and I remember having to fix the veil firmlySt. Christophers with bobby pins to prevent the veil falling off in church, almost a sin in the eyes of the sisters.

Here is a picture of the Junior House, the children are wearing their Sunday dresses but since they were outside they were permitted to remove the veils.

When I was a senior I shared a small dormitory with three other girls in what was known as the South Transept. You can see the square turret in the centre of this picture, we slept there above the entrance to the church and we considered ourselves fortunate as we had a bathroom to ourselves, although it was Stokes wing very cold, even in winter we had no heat. It was also thought that a ghost of a nun could be often seen in the South Transept but I never saw her. We did share part of the dormitory with one of the kitchen staff who had a curtained off area to call her own. She snored quite loudly so as long as she kept snoring we could have small midnight feasts with goodies we had bought from the village store on one of our few trips out of the convent, or listen to Radio Luxembourg, a pirate radio station, or better still giggle over excerpts from Lady Chatterley's Lover,  by D.H. Lawrence. That book was my entire sexual education as those sort of things were never discussed.

The convent and school are closed now but the buildings are used as a residential home for seniors. There were quite a few seniors living there when I was a child, I never thought then that I would one day qualify as a senior myself.




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15 comments:

Skittles said...

You wrote this so well I almost felt like I was there! From the itchy dresses to the giggling late nights. :)

The pictures are beautiful. I hope some day to be able to see buildings so stately !

Jeni said...

I gotta tell you this Vic, I don't envy you that life at all! I'm happy all I had to do when I was growing up was walk almost a mile to school -uphill, both ways (as Bill Cosby would describe the trek.)My sex education was almost as poor as yours too -except I think I learned more from Peyton Place and books by Harold Robbins. Try though I did, I never found a copy of "Lady Chatterly's Lover" as a teen -wonder why that was -and later, just sort of forgot about my quest to someday read that book.

charlotte (life's a charm) said...

i love your post. it's so informative and interesting. and it made me smile. it reminded me of the nuns from the school i went to in grade school and high school and the dormitory that I stayed in for 5-years in college.

Hootin' Anni said...

I remember mass in Latin...

Love the informative post for today and HoT!!

tumblewords said...

Interesting post and lovely pictures. Thanks!

anthonynorth said...

A great memoir. Radio Luxenbourg takes me back as well. I also remember Radio Caroline, broadcast from a ship just outside UK national waters.

Cicero Sings said...

You had such an unusual and interesting (in retrospect) early life!

Lisa - Life is Like a Box of Legos said...

I'm so glad these magnificent buildings are still in use. Again, I have to say, you certainly have had such interesting experiences!

Anna said...

Very interesting. This seems the stuff movies are made of, because it's so far removed from anything I know.

Patsy said...

What a wonderful story. It makes my life in just a house with three sisters and attending public school in a small town sound so drab. I didn't have to wear itchy dresses, but we did wear dresses to school that my mother had made use and when the wind blew (as it did often west Texas) the sand it kicked up stung your legs. Ahhh memories. Thanks for sharing yours and bringing back some of mine. Glad you dropped by earlier.

Amy said...

My goodness, you have had an incredibly interesting life!

Sue said...

I very much enjoyed this entry, and I love the pics :) I am an Anglophile with a love of English history, and architecture.

And yes, thankfully young women are given a much better sex education today. My mother has similar memories on that :)

Shannon H. said...

Such a wonderful post!

Erica said...

heh - I don't think I would have survived in that environment. In the town I grew up in the Nuns volunteered at the library - I think they prayed for me a lot due to my book requests. :P

Tina said...

that looks like a really beautiful place.

nice to hear you grew up in England :)