St Mary the Virgin Convent in Wantage is planning a major renewal of parts of the property, the first in many years.
The Victorian building has been home to Sisters of the Community of St Mary the Virgin (CSMV) since the religious community, part of the Church of England, was founded in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Now the Sisters and Trustees of the Community have announced plans to build a new glass-fronted entrance and reception area to the main building between two wings of the existing Convent buildings. The Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST) will occupy office space on one side of the new entrance, while new conference and meeting rooms will be created on the other.
Alastair Hunter, chair of the CSMV charity trustees, said: “Supporting education in local communities was one of the founding objectives of the Community. We are delighted to be putting the resources of the charity to use to meet this objective in the 21st century.”
Reflecting on the developments at the Convent, Sister Stella (the Sister-in-Charge) said: “By sharing parts of the Convent buildings with other organisations which share our ethos and objectives, the Sisters are finding exciting new ways to reach out into the local community.”
This initiative follows two other recently completed projects on the Convent site, supporting local schools. St Mary’s Lodge on Challow Road has been converted into six flats for newly qualified teachers, helping local schools to attract new staff. The first residents are about to move in. Another building on the Convent site, known as the Studio, has been converted into offices for the Vale Academy Trust, a multi-academy trust with eight schools in Wantage and Abingdon.
Alongside the new activities, the Sisters of CSMV will continue to live at the Convent and to welcome guests from around the country who regularly come to the site to enjoy religious retreats and quiet days in the beautiful surroundings.
A planning application has been submitted to the Vale of the White Horse and it is hoped that work on the project will start in the middle of 2018.