In January 1909, the neighbouring property to The Elms, was acquired for £3,150. Paston House on Bateman Street made quite a statement with its Ruskin-esque brickwork, lavish plasterwork, staircase windows with heraldic panes and an extra acre of land.
By this time, our School was small, but well-established, comprising 24 boarders and 19 day pupils. The boarders were housed, fed, cared for and taught in The Elms. Day girls we taught separately in Paston House.
Paston House was intended to be a Hostel: “The Religious of St Mary’s Convent, Cambridge, with the sanction of the Training College, will open in September 1909 a house of residence for Catholic Students attending the Training College. The object of the Hostel is to provide a Catholic atmosphere and Catholic instruction and direction for young women.”
This aim was not successful venture and so the top floor of Paston House was used for resident staff and later for members of the community. It was also used for outreach activity including being the venue for a study circle that examined the social teaching of the Church.
Additionally, it was used for meetings of the Girls’ Guild, the Catholic Women’s League, several parish committees; the Boys’ Brigade even met in a loft over the coach- house! On the outbreak of the First World War, a flood of Belgian refugees came to Cambridge: the Belgian children came to Paston House for lessons.
Our outreach and partnerships today
Paston Coach House
According to the Convent Journal:
“a handsome carriage and pair had been kept in Paston’s coach house ” together with “ a yellow and black trap, drawn by a frisky young horse with a habit of bolting”
We acquired the Coach House, converting it into a laundry with an art room above. Eventually the laundry and adjacent playground made space for a gymnasium, art, music and needlework rooms, more class-rooms and yet another laboratory.