COURAGE & CONFIDENCE - ST MADELEINE SOPHIE BARAT
HISTORY OF SACRED HEART EDUCATION
Our school is founded on the visionary and courageous spirit of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat. In 1800, St. Madeleine Sophie founded the Society of the Sacred Heart with a profound mission in mind: to educate a new generation and inspire social transformation in the wake of the revolution. The first Sacred Heart school took root in Amiens, France, in 1801, marking the beginning of a growing network of schools. These institutions, built upon the values of the Heart of Jesus and the dignity of every individual, soon grew in numbers across France and beyond. At the time of her death in 1865, there were Sacred Heart schools on four continents.
The Sacred Heart Society in England
On 8 December 1842 (during the reign of Queen Victoria) a small group of Sacred Heart sisters travelled on a boat from France to open a new community and school in London.
By 1905, a small community of sisters had already settled in Carlisle and then moved to Gosforth to start teacher training and open a small boarding and day school.
On 11th November 1905, a small community of sisters from the Society purchased the building known as ‘Fenham Hall’ and established a school and teacher training college on the site. The school opened with 60 pupils, two training college students and the religious community. By 1920 the school was granting scholarships to able girls and after 1945 virtually all the girls were scholarship students.
In November 2005, we celebrated one hundred years of Sacred Heart Education at Fenham. This was such an exciting milestone for the whole Sacred Heart Community. Thousands of young women have been educated in our schools and many have trained as teachers in the training college.
In the 1980’s provision for Catholic girls of all abilities from outside the city was made available at Sacred Heart. Between 1977 to 2005 the buildings of the school were on two sites.
Students from Year 9 upwards were housed in the buildings on Fenham Hall Drive while the Lower School, situated on Lewis Drive, catered for students in Years 7 and 8. We were delighted that in the summer of 2005, new state of the art buildings were completed to allow us to house everyone on the Fenham Hall Drive site.
Today, we are proud to continue to provide a Sacred Heart education for over 1400 girls still very much rooted in the philosophy of our foundress.
Our foundress, St Madeleine Sophie Barat, said that she would have founded the society ‘for the sake of one child’. It is remarkable that this wonderful spirit of care for each child, coupled with excellent standards of education for young women, is very evident today, over one hundred years after the foundation of the school in Fenham. To celebrate our centenary, past and present pupils, staff, Sacred Heart Sisters and Friends of the school attended an Open Day on Saturday 12th November 2005. From 8 December 2022 and throughout the academic year, we celebrate 180 years of the Society's work in England.