121-year-old Midhurst school throws open its gates one last time

St Margaret's School at Midhurst is throwing open its gates to local people for the last time.

The convent school is closing at the end of the summer term because the ageing nuns of the Sisters of Mercy order want to step down from their trustee responsibilities.

On Saturday (July 4), A Farewell to St Margaret's event will feature music, memories, food and fun from midday until 4pm. Entry is free and it is open to anyone who would like to go along, whether or not they have been directly associated with the school.

A variety of activities will be on offer including live jazz all afternoon and children's entertainments. There will be free squash for the children and free tea, coffee and cakes will be available throughout the afternoon.

For those who fancy buying some more substantial refreshments there will be a bar, hog-roast, barbecue and ice-cream.

Julia Hughes, from St Margaret's, said: "There are so many people who have been associated with St Margaret's in one way or another these past decades and we would like to be able to give everyone a chance to join in and say goodbye."

It is 121 years since the first two sisters were despatched to Midhurst by the Diocese of Southwark to open a school, and since then the convent and its school have been part of the town's life.

Many groups and societies, such as the Midhurst Society, Adult Education, Midhurst Tennis Club and ecumenical church groups have played a role in the life of the school.

In turn, its facilities have hosted scores of exhibitions, family events, birthday parties and other celebrations.

Included in the farewell event will be a historical display showing the development of St Margaret's and looking at the role the Sisters of Mercy have played in education in Midhurst since 1888.

Now, however, most of the nuns have retired from teaching and it became apparent earlier this year the future of the 150-pupil junior school was under threat.

Seaford College, the independent co-educational school near Petworth, attempted a takeover which would have seen the St Margaret's site operating as Seaford's junior wing.

But the proposal foundered over the continued use of the expansive site, which Seaford had indicated it would want to lease. The future use of the land in Petersfield Road is not yet known.

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