‘Blue Plaque’ heritage honour for Burnley convent

Unveiling of the plaque at St Mary's Convent on Yorkshire Street in Burnley.'Photo Ben Parsons
Unveiling of the plaque at St Mary's Convent on Yorkshire Street in Burnley.'Photo Ben Parsons

A BLUE plaque has been unveiled to mark a convent which helped to educate Burnley’s Catholic community.

The convent, next to St Mary’s Church in Yorkshire Street, now boasts a blue Burnley Civic Trust plaque to recognise the important work of the Sisters of Mercy.

Former St Theodore’s RC High teacher Jim Hoyle approached the chairman of the civic trust and former colleague Roger Frost to erect a plaque.

Mr Hoyle’s sister-in-law Constance Parkinson was educated at the convent and went on to become an eminent surgeon. She now lives in London.

Mr Frost said: “The convent was on our list for the blue plaques and we were happy to oblige. It was founded by the Sisters of Mercy who came to Burnley from Ireland after being invited by the Catholic community of St Mary’s.

“The nuns did an enormous amount of work educating Catholics in the town from 1872 to 1988. An order of Franciscans later took residency in the convent and the Sisters of Mercy built a new convent in the grounds of St Joseph’s, Park Hill in 1957.”

Mr Frost described the unveiling ceremony as very successful, with around 60 people attending including clergy, nuns and former pupils.

A social gathering was held afterwards in the KSC 110 Club.

The Religious Order of the Sisters of Mercy was founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland, in 1831.

The Sisters in Burnley dedicated themselves to education in the poor schools and visiting the poor, sick and vulnerable in their own homes and in hospitals.

A private school was opened in the convent for children of the more prosperous people of the area such as mill owners, deputies and the growing middle class. This provided much needed funds for work among the poor.