A nun, a king and a letter without a stamp

I'm all packed and ready for my trip to El Salvador ahead of schedule, so I'm spending some time working on a history project - I'm compiling some information from our 3 Provinces to create a Congregation History Timeline. In my work today I came across a very interesting story about a nun, a king and a letter without a stamp.

Our story begins in 1901 when the pastor of Our Lady and St Joseph's parish in Hanwell, London asked for sisters to come and staff his school. Two sisters were sent. By 1902 the school had expanded and three sisters were now teaching there. In November 1902 the Salvation Army Hall in Hanwell was bought and became the new St. Joseph's School. Things seemed to be going well.

But then in 1903 the school came under the Middlesex Education Committee who opposed paying towards the upkeep of the school. The sisters had no income except their school pay. By Christmas, the sisters in Hanwell were in dire straits and Sister Cecilia McCann decided to do something about it.

She couldn't afford even a stamp, so she wrote to King Edward VII as the only person who could receive a letter without one. The King ordered an immediate enquiry into the reason the sisters were not being paid.

On February 2, 1904 the Hanwell School was given Grant Aided Status and the sisters were paid and backdated to November.

Sister Cecilia died on July 18, 1921.

We still have sisters living in the Hanwell convent. I hope to visit there when I head to London in September for my ministry experience.

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