(Compiled mainly from information supplied by Sr. Mary Barbara O.P. and various written sources.)
St. Dominic’s Convent at Stone
The foundations of St. Dominic’s Convent were begun on 15th August 1852 on Pinfold Croft, on land given by Mr. James Beech of the parish. The first Sisters arrived on 23rd July 1853 and on 4th August the same year the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Ullathorne. The Convent was built bit by bit. First the south wing and then the west wing. The Sanctuary, Sisters’ Choir, Library (then a Chapter Room), school, priest’s house and north cloister were built between 1861 and 1863 after the purchase of cottages in Station Road made this possible. Mother Margaret Hallahan always wanted the Convent to have cloisters.
The Chapel of St. Catherine
This was built by Mother Margaret to house the relic of St. Catherine sent by the Mother General when St. Catherine’s body was moved from the side altar to the High Altar in the Minerva. It is the largest relic of the Saint outside Italy.
The Library (originally the Chapter Room)
The most outstanding object in the library is the statue of Our Lady.
This was given to Mother Margaret by Père Versavel, her confessor in Bruges. He had received it from an old lady in Holland who had begged him to give it to someone who would treasure it.
Mother Margaret had great devotion to Our Lady and this statue was her greatest treasure. She kept it in her attic room in Bruges. Before it she would lead the Rosary and litanies with the children of the house and others who wished. She brought it to England with her and it was the first statue of Our Lady to be carried in procession in England since the Reformation. Archbishop Ullathorne used to preach ferverinos before it; the architect Hanson was asked to make a canopy for it. The crown was made out of Children of Mary medals.
The altar on which the statue stands was St. Pius X’s desk. Canon Power, late of Birches Head, studied in Rome and became friendly with some of the relatives of the Pope who sent the desk to Canon Power after the Pope’s death in 1914. The Canon had it in his room in Birches Head but left it to Sr. Mary Silvester at his death; thus it came to Stone where it was put in the Prioress’ room. After Vatican II the altar in the Chapter Room was needed for the Sisters’ Choir and so the desk became Our Lady’s altar in its place. The two statues on the front of the altar represent St. Peter, the first Pope and St. John the Baptist, St. Pius X’s baptismal name.
The Divine Office has been prayed here since 1854. This was built ten years later than the south and west wings of the Convent. In the centre near the altar, Mother Margaret lies buried; on her right, her successor Mother Mary Imelda Poole; on her left, Mother Francis Raphael Drane.
The window nearest the altar is to Mother Margaret and shows Our Lady of Dolours, to whom Mother Margaret had great devotion, and St. Margaret Mary. The window on the left of the organ is to Mother Imelda Poole and shows The Seven Spirits to whom she had great devotion. She wrote a story about Uriel, one of the seven spirits.