St John's Open Air School
Turpin's Lane, Woodford Bridge, Essex IG8 8AX
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1897 - 1970

Open Air School (boys)

In 1897 the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (the 'Chigwell Sisters'), a Roman Catholic conventual order, established St John's School for delicate children.  The boarding school was adjacent to their Convent of the Sacred Heart near Woodford Bridge, Essex, and to the original Manor House, which had become their orphanage.

Then - or soon after - the School adopted the principles of, and became, a residential open air school for up to 100 boys.  Pupils were noted as having had ophthalmic problems, cardiac and respiratory conditions and learning difficulties.

By 1911 the School contained 160 pupils.

St John's Open Air School continued up to and through WW2 but, in November 1944, a V2 rocket exploded in the sports field next to the dormitory block.  The School was evacuated.

Activity resumed following the end of the war in 1945. 

By the late 1960s the pupils were mainly asthmatic boys aged from 5 to 15 years, many from broken homes.

The School closed in 1970 when the premises were due to be refurbished.

Present status (January 2013)

The premises reopened in 1972 as St John's Roman Catholic  School, a special day school for up to 100 children with learning and language difficulties.  It receives pupils, irrespective of their religion, from the surrounding education authorities.

Additionally, the site accommodates the Domus Mariae, a religious retreat and conference centre associated with the convent.

St John's RC Special School
The main entrance to Domus Mariae, which is on the left, with the white tower of St John's School shown in the distance.

St John's RC Special School
The School building, as seen from the corner of Turpins Lane and Ely Place.

St John's RC Special School
The Domus Mariae Centre.

Chigwell Convent

Chigwell Convent (above and below) has its own entrance.

Chigwell Convent
References (Accessed 26th September 2013)

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