St. Scholastica's Priory, Atherstone



St. Scholastica's Priory at Atherstone in Warwickshire was a daughter house of St. Benedict's Priory, Colwich. The foundation was made in May 1859 by a group of nineteen sent from Colwich in Staffordshire. Ten of the religious were choir nuns, three were choir novices, two were lay sisters and two lay sister novices. There were two choir nuns on loan from St. Benedict's Priory, who were to return to their community after helping the new one make a good beginning.




The group sent to found St. Scholastica's was unusually large. The superior of St. Benedict's, Mother Mary Clare Knight, wanted the daughter house to be a house of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, like the mother house at Colwich. This required a sufficient number for the Adoration, including sufficient choir nuns to sing the full Divine Office and some lay sisters for the work of the house. The inclusion of novices in the founding party enabled the community to train its own new members from its begining.




Reverend Mother Mary Clare Knight appointed Reverend Mother Teresa Sales Clifford as the first Prioress of Atherstone. A year later, in May 1860, an election took place at St. Scholastica's, and Reverend Mother Teresa Sales Clifford was elected Prioress by the choir nuns of Atherstone. She remained in office until her death in 1868.
The second Prioress to be elected was Reverend Mother Mary Josephine Anderson, who retired in 1872. (She died in 1910). Her successor was Reverend Mother Mary Juliana Stourton, who was Prioress from 1872 until she died in 1909. Reverend Mother Mary Teresa Drew succeeded her, serving as Prioress until her retirement in 1930. (She died in 1937).



The last Prioress, Reverend Mother Flavia Bunce


The fifth and last Prioress of St. Scholastica's Priory was Reverend Mother Flavia Bunce, elected in 1930. She was continually re-elected until 1951. After that the nuns had to make a special requests to the Bishop for her to be allowed to continue as Prioress, the last occasion being in 1964.

After the Second Vatican Council communities of nuns were encouraged to consider whether they were too small and could benefit from amalgamation. The two communities, Colwich and Atherstone, had both reduced in numbers. In December 1966 Atherstone voted to amalgamate with Colwich and on 31st July 1967 the amalgamation took place. The whole Atherstone community led by Mother Flavia joined Colwich, and the Atherstone property was sold. At the time, Colwich had twenty members and Atherstone had eighteen.




Potato picking at St. Scholastica's Priory, Atherstone



















From 1859 to 1967, there was a total of sixty eight Atherstone nuns and sisters, including those who went on the foundation and those who joined Colwich at the amalgamation.