Memory Bank

Update from the Archives

Our archivist Janette Ratcliffe sums up a month in the Archives...

By the time the OP newsletter is published, we will have held our second Photo Naming Event here at the College. I would like to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to everybody who was able to attend either event and share their knowledge. This information will be added when we catalogue the photographs. If you weren’t able to attend but are still keen to get involved, copies of the photographs that were on display will be shared as ‘Throw Back Thursday’ posts on Facebook and any help you can give is very much appreciated.

The launch of the new website in March provided an exciting opportunity to delve into the rich history of the Foundation and I enjoyed researching the history of each school for their individual websites, as well as creating an interactive timeline that can be found at the bottom of the OP section of the Princethorpe website. The team have worked so hard to get the website looking as good as it does and I was pleased to have been able to make a small contribution.

We continue to make good progress cataloguing our collections. There are now over 6,700 items on the catalogue and the following collections are now fully catalogued:

St Mary’s Priory

St Bede’ College

St Joseph’s School

Crackley Hall

Crescent School

You can find our catalogue at and it is easy to search to see what we have. There is also a Digital Materials section which has the school magazines that have been digitised and programmes from some of the plays that have been put on at Princethorpe College. If you spot a gap in our records that you can fill, please get in touch with me at I am able to scan and return your originals if you would prefer to keep them.

Spring Has Finally Sprung

Driving up to Princethorpe College is always a pleasure and this is particularly true in Spring. What becomes clear when you look through the magazines and programmes in the archive is that the college’s surroundings have also inspired the generations of pupils that attended the school.

As well as there being an annual prize awarded to a pupil at St Mary’s Priory for the best nature study, the Peeps magazine regularly featured poems and articles relating to the girls’ observations as part of their time here. What soon becomes clear is how little has changed in the intervening years. This poem submitted for the 1913 edition of Peeps (Reference SMP.27.3.06, pg 11) could easily have been written by a current pupil with its references to the bluebells that are so striking in the woods at the moment.

‘At Princethorpe Nature reigns as Queen
She decks the hill and vale with green,
She threads the grass with violets blue,
And gives the moss its verdant hue.

The bluebells nod beneath the trees,
Adding a fragrance to the breeze,
While lark and thrush in rapture sing
Their joyous welcome to the Spring.’

Dorothy Kelly

Nature at the Priory was also an inspiration for the beautiful designs featured on the programmes we hold here in the archive, with flowers proving a popular theme. The programmes were created for the Reverend Mother’s Feast Day each year and it was a time for great celebration with pupils performing plays and songs; a recurring theme for the lyrics was the joy the pupils felt at being able to ‘put away all their books and learning’ in order to just have fun.

Given the beautiful surroundings of the College, I think it is fair to end this article with the quote at the ending of the article ‘Field Botany in the Enclosure’ in the 1928 edition of the Peeps, which states ‘Benedicite universa germinantia in terra Domino’ or ‘Bless all that grows in the ground’. (Reference SMP.27.3.16, pg 22).

If you would like to read the Peeps magazines for yourself to see what else the pupils and nuns wrote about life at Princethorpe, they have all been digitised and can be found in the ‘Digital Material’ section of the archive catalogue at

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