Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception Archive

Scope and Content

Records of the English Province of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, most recently held at the convent in Bocking, Braintree, Essex. Includes hand written copies of the rule, profession books and chapter books,accounts, legal records, photographs, research notes, published items and records from Clacton on Sea

Administrative / Biographical History

The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and St Francis was founded by Mother Mary Elizabeth Lockhart in Greenwich, London in 1852. The order was offered better premises in Portobello Road in Bayswater and moved in 1857, where thesisters ran an orphanage for girls (St Elizabeth's Home). An Anglican convert to Catholicism, Mother Mary Elizabeth herself died in 1870, and was buried in the cemetery in the grounds at Bayswater (although in 1900 she was exhumed along with herfellow sisters and reburied in Kensall Green due to building work).

In 1896 the sisters sold their property in Bayswater and moved to Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, opening a private day and boarding school (St Clare's). This was run as a private school until 1969 when a new state-funded catholic primary school wasopened, although the sisters continued to teach at the successor school. During 1896, another Catholic convert, Edith Arendrup (nee Coultard) sold her family house at Bocking, near Braintree in Essex to the sisters. The Bocking house became themother house and was known as the Braintree Congregation. The sisters established a day school at Bocking in 1901, adding an orphanage in 1908, both of which were run by the sisters until 1944. In 1948 the main building became a nursing home, StFrancis', caring for elderly residents (including sisters and the wider community).

In 1965 the order amalgamated with the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (founded by Elizabeth Hayes, 1823-1894, later known as Mother Mary Ignatius of Jesus), and the mother house was transferred to Rome.

In 1987 a quiet prayer retreat was opened by the sisters at Abbotswick. The Abbotswick Diocesan House of Prayer was subsequently sold to the Diocese in 2000. Also In 2000, the sisters sold the Clacton convent and moved to a smaller property inRusell Road, before withdrawing entirely from Clacton in 2018. St Francis' Nursing Home was closed in 2010 and the sisters withdrew from Bocking in 2019.

Access Information

Open for consultation

Acquisition Information

Donated by the convent at Bocking in September 2019, accession reference Misc.2019/20:13

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Collections at Durham University Library and Collections (e-mail PG.Library@durham.ac.uk) and, where appropriate, from the copyrightowner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material


Mary Assumpta Ahles, In the shadow of His wings: a history of the Franciscan Sisters (Minnesota, 1977)  John Watts, A canticle of love: the story of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (Edinburgh, 2006)