Battenhall Mount was built in the mid 1860s by a Quaker and wealthy clothier, William Spriggs. Thirty years later it was bought by the Hon. Percy Allsopp, a member of the wealthy brewing family. Money was lavished on the exterior, the house being built in the Italianate style popularised by Prince Albert - indeed many people have commented on the similarities between Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and St. Mary's. Allsopp added the grand entrance drive and gate house and set about landscaping the gardens and enlarging the house threefold. The magnificent music hall and adjoining marble hall are his creation. The reception room, mostly Georgian in design, and the dark wood panelled Jacobean style dining room (now used as a staff room) give some idea of the sumptuousness of the accommodation.
However the crowning glory of this building has to be the family chapel. It is a fantastic creation based on the plan of an Italian Renaissance Church, possibly Florentine. The richness of the materials and the standard of craftsmanship involved are of a very high quality. A central gilded dome and apse contain the altar, which is composed of a solid block of marble, inlaid with coloured blocks and semi-precious stones. The tabernacle is also of marble and shaped in the form of a Greek temple.
Sadly the family did not enjoy their beautiful home for long, as the family business failed and the house was sold. During the First World War the house was used as a Convalescent Home and there are still in existence some faded sepia photographs of soldiers sitting on the terrace above the Italian garden. Ownership passed to a jam manufacturer and then in 1921 to Dr. Charles Herbert Thompson, a metallurgist chemist, who renamed the house Mount Battenhall.
In 1933, the house was again for sale. The Sisters of St. Marie Madeleine Postel, who wished to establish a convent and school in Worcester, came to look at the house but it was rejected by the French Superiors from the mother house as much too ornate for a convent. However, the asking price was so low at £7,600 that the superiors eventually laid aside their reservations. Seven Sisters arrived in 1934 to take possession of the house and St. Mary's Convent School opened its doors to its first four pupils.
As pupil numbers expanded the site was developed to include a purpose built Senior School. A large Victorian property opposite was purchased for the development of the Junior Department and the original stables and carriage house were expertly modernised to provide light and airy Infant Department classrooms, a gymnasium, a wet/dry area and a soft-surface playground. The school site has been further developed to include comprehensive sports facilities.
Although the Sisters no longer teach here (the first lay headteacher was appointed in 1986) their legacy continues to inspire and guide us, and the beautiful old house has been painstakingly maintained and cleverly extended to combine the tranquillity of an earlier age with the very best of modern technology.
Since the closure of the school an archive of all memorabilia and photos can now be found at The Hive in Worcester. As the deposit is un-catalogued at present and is likely to remain so for some time, requests to view the material would need to be made at least one week in advance. This is standard procedure for uncatalogued deposits.
Further information on the procedures for viewing archival material can be found on the website at www.worcestershire.gov.uk/waas including a useful visitors guide which explains what is required, such as readers tickets etc.
The direct link to the visitors guide is as follows: