Northampton Notre Dame school: Historic cemetery renovation completed

Image caption The work on the crosses in the cemetery cost £8,000, raised by initiatives by Northampton Borough Council and Notre Dame Association

A tiny cemetery which is all that remains of an ornate school is now "stopping people" in the street following a renovation.

Notre Dame convent school once dominated the centre of Northampton, but it was demolished in 1979.

The cemetery of the Sisters of Notre Dame contains the graves of about 80 nuns who had taught there.

Margaret Bradbury, Notre Dame Association president, said: "I am delighted. It's wonderful."

Image copyright Northampton Borough Council
Image caption The Notre Dame convent school was demolished in 1979 to make way for shops

The girls school was built in 1852 and by the 1960s it had about 500 pupils and a grand frontage on Abington Street.

It was a direct grant grammar school after World War Two - with pupil places either funded by the state or by private fees.

However, by 1975 it had closed and four years later it was demolished in favour of shops.

Image caption The cemetery on Albert Place, between Abington Street and Lady's Lane, is all that remains of the school
Image caption Margaret Bradbury, president of the Notre Dame Association, at the cemetery before the crosses were painted and brick wall built

Last year, Northampton Borough Council, the Notre Dame Association - made up of former pupils - and Voluntary Impact put together plans to renovate the plot.

The majority of the £34,000 work is now finished with the walls raised and the Victorian railings saved. Some £8,000 was spent refurbishing and reinstating the crosses.

Mrs Bradbury said: "I've had so many comments of how wonderful it looks.

"People who would have just walked past this are now stopping."

She said the Association had a "limited life span" so it was important "more people in Northampton know about it".

'Depressing' demolition

Penny Flavell, a councillor at Northampton Borough Council and a former pupil, said it was "really important we keep as much of the Northampton heritage as we can".

She said the renovation went some way to addressing the "depressing" demolition of the school.

"Everything in the school was just beautiful," she added.

Image copyright Northampton Borough Council
Image caption Most of the girls who attended the convent school were from Northamptonshire, although some boarders were from France

For Mrs Bradbury the cemetery brings back happy memories.

She said: "It was quite a privileged education, we were in these massive grounds, with big gardens, almost shut off from the outside world.

"The nuns weren't just academically educating us - they were educating us for life."

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