Hundreds say farewell as convent school closes

Hundreds of people teemed through the gates of St Margaret's Convent Junior School at Midhurst to say their goodbyes.

The event was held to mark the end of the school's 121-year association with the town and its formal closure at the end of term today (Friday, July 9).

Members of the Sisters of Mercy religious order are giving up their responsibilities as trustees of the junior school and after a possible deal with Seaford College, Duncton, fell through, closure became inevitable.

'Farewell to St Margaret's', billed as a day of music and memories, food and fun, brought together not only many past pupils, parents and staff as well as those who are the last to be there, but also residents of Midhurst who have never known the town without it.

St Margaret's spokeswoman Julia Hughes said: "It was absolutely heaving with people which was a wonderful surprise.

"At the beginning we wondered whether people would come, but they did and it was amazing.

"The sisters were overwhelmed and so pleased to see them all."

The message about the event had been spread far and wide. Mrs Hughes said it went out by email to everyone in the school's address book, and also via the internet social networking site, Facebook.

One former pupil, whose days at St Margaret's dated back more than 30 years, arrived with her family from Hong Kong, where she lives.

Also there was a woman who had attended the school between 1931 and 1937.

The nuns were presented with three albums full of photographs and recollections.

The future of the extensive school site and its buildings in Petersfield Road is not yet known.

It is believed no decisions have yet been taken.

But more than 20 sisters of the Order of Mercy will continue to live at the neighbouring convent and their familiar presence will remain in Midhurst.

The last 150 pupils of the school are dispersing variously to state schools and other independent schools in the area – including the newly-expanded junior wing at Seaford College.

Mrs Hughes said state schools which parents had chosen for their children included Harting, Hollycombe (Milland) and Easebourne primary schools and Duncton Junior School.

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