18 Sep Our 140th Anniversary 1878-2018 part 3
So the little band of seven nuns passed out of the monastery they loved, to bear its teaching and its traditions further afield. Accompanied by various relatives and friends, they suffered the Channel’s worst during the long night crossing, but were very touched by the courtesy shown them by all the officers and stewards on board the ship. They travelled from Dieppe to Newhaven, simply because it was the cheapest route, and from Newhaven, once all their boxes and bundles and cases had passed through the customs, they took the train to Victoria.
They were met by the Howard family, and a troop of servants from Norfolk House, the Duke’s London home, saw to all the luggage and ordered cabs for the entire party. It had been arranged by these good English friends that the sisters would be driven to their new home by a roundabout way that would allow them to see something of London. One of them, in a letter back to France, expressed their sentiments: “We looked at this great city of London, where henceforth we had a mission to fulfil, this city for whose sake, at least in part, God had asked of us the most absolute gift of ourselves”.
At last the carriages turned into St Charles Square and they caught their first glimpse of the Monastery against a background of green fields. The large field that was part of their own property, though not yet within the enclosure, had been let out to local farmers, and there were cows grazing there. In the stillness of the autumn sunshine, an air of peace brooded already over the place, and as the community looked at their future home, joy and thankfulness filled their hearts at the thought of God’s goodness.
The Sisters made a formal entry in their white cloaks and with the Cross leading the way. The small procession took possession of the house to the chant of Laudate Dominum omnes gentes (Praise the Lord, all you nations) just as St Teresa had done in her new foundations and the six Spanish nuns who had founded the Paris Carmel in 1604. The rest of the day and, for some, the whole of the night, was spent in preparation for the opening ceremony of the following day.