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St Michael's Training Home

08 st michaels training school

St Michael's Training Home
By Sister Lizzie Ruth

The track can be heard here: St Michael's Training Home

More information about the training home can be found here: History of CSMV

The text is as follows:
Hello, I'm sister Lizzie Ruth, a sister of the Community of St. Mary the Virgin in Wantage. And I'd like to tell you a bit about St. Michael's training home.

Back in 1848, there was no national school system. This was when the vicar of Wantage, William John Butler founded our community of religious sisters. He hoped that one of their main forms of ministry would be providing much needed education to the young people of Wantage. At first, the sisters taught girls in two cottages in Mill Street.

A few years later, they started residential training for teenage girls who aspired to become teachers. They were called pupil teachers. At first, the pupil teachers lived and did their training in a cottage in Newbury Street. In the early 1850s, a lady living in Littlemore, Mrs. Trevelyan was training girls for domestic service. She was looking for a bigger building where she and the girls could live and train, and she bought the land for the building in Priory Road that later became known as St. Michael's.

When their building was built, and Mrs. Trevelyan and her girls moved in, William John Butler asked if his pupil teachers could share the building with them in a new separate wing, and Mrs. Trevelyan agreed. For several years, the two different residential schools shared the same building. The industrial girls, as they were known, at one end learning housekeeping skills from Mrs Trevelyan, and the pupil teachers at the other end receiving teacher training from the Wantage sisters. Together, the building was referred to as St. Michael's training schools.

Over time, the building and work of St. Michael's expanded. The Wantage sisters took over the building from Mrs. Trevelyan, and fully trained teachers who taught in schools in Wantage, Grove, Charlton and Challow were also given accommodation in St. Michael's.

By the turn of the 20th Century, state education had come into being and grown. It was felt by the state that St. Michael's, which by now had been at the forefront of teacher training for 50 or so years, was no longer needed for this purpose. In 1908, the training of pupil teachers at St Michael's was drawn to a close.

Over the following years, St. Michael's was used by the Wantage sisters for various purposes: as a base for training Christian missionaries, as a house in which sisters from the convents lived and served the people of Wantage, and as retreat accommodation for guests wanting a few days of quiet with the sisters.

St. Michael's is now a domestic premises of flats, but the Wantage sisters who continue to live up the road have developed new ways of supporting young people and their education.

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