The Convent Co-operative Estate stands on the site of the Convent of the Sacred Heart, established in 1874 to accommodate a training college for Roman Catholic woman teachers. The Society of the Sacred Heart itself was founded in France, in 1800.
Previously, the site had been occupied by ‘The Orchards’, a gentleman’s residence with extensive gardens and parkland. The existing house was adapted and extended by the Society to accommodate both nuns and students. By the mid-1890s it had been much extended, and the training college also had a school attached. In 1904, the teacher training college students moved to St Charles Square, but the Convent continued to run both primary and secondary schools. The Convent buildings finally became a Home Economics annexe for students from the Society’s Digby Stuart College (now part of the University of Roehampton).
Following subsequent building works, a large chapel was built during the 20th Century. The sisters also acquired a pair of houses in Santos Road (34-36), which were knocked together and used as a hostel for those at the college. There is still a doorway in the brick wall (now blocked up) that led from the Convent’s grounds to the house’s garden.
In 1975, the estate was sold to Wandsworth Borough Council for housing development, and the current housing estate was built by WBC in phases over a number of years from 1977. While the main Convent buildings were demolished to make way for the new development, St. Joseph’s school survived for some time, located on the site of the current Convent Co-Op Office and gated Milton Court development. It was later moved to its current site on Oakhill Road, on the northern extremity of the old Convent grounds (the remainder being sold for the gated Pembridge Place housing development). The houses in Santos Road were retained by the Sacred Heart as a much smaller convent and hostel, along with a handful of other local properties. The Santos properties were finally sold to a property developer in 2005-6 to be converted into flats.
The Convent Co-operative was founded in 1984; its purpose to look after the residents’ interests and give them a stronger voice in running the estate. Over 30 years’ later, through the hard work of the Convent Co-Op office, committee members (past and present) and resident volunteers, that legacy continues.
Putney Bridge Road