IN 1853, a Mrs F A Trevelyan bought the land in Wantage on which St Michael’s stands between Priory Road and the Letcombe Brook.

Two years later, the foundation stone was laid for the house north of the two larger buildings, all designed by the architect William White.

An apsidal was added to the chapel in 1888, by the architect A B Allin.

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As soon as the new buildings were ready, Mrs Trevelyan moved in along with the ‘industrial school’ which she had already founded at Littlemore, Oxford, for the training of young girls for domestic service.

The school was run on strictly religious principles. Children were sent to the school as young as nine years old.

To further education in the area, the Vicar of Wantage, the Revd William Butler, persuaded Mrs Trevelyan to add a school for the training of pupil teachers and the sisters of the Wantage Community became more involved in the work.

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Mrs Trevelyan left Wantage in 1861 and left her property in trust with the Revd Butler and the Community of St Mary the Virgin for them to take over her work.

A Sister Mary from the convent took over from Mrs Trevelyan, and was followed by Miss Penelope Osborne.

She had been one of Florence Nightingale’s nurses in the Crimean War and before coming to the school, had had charge of the middle school in the old Baptist Chapel in Back Street (now Church Street).

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Miss Osborne would run St Michael’s School for 12 years between 1882-1874.

In 1898 a new wing was added to the school and dedicated to her memory, to help accommodate the pupil teachers.

The architect for the work was A Mardon Mowbray and it was built by Messers Benfield and Bexley of Oxford for £5,000.

Read also: The Napoleonic prisoner of war who lived a life of luxury in Wantage

In the 20th century the Community of St Mary the Virgin organised the Guild of the Good Shepherd and the training of missionary students.

Finally the house was used as a retreat and a home for elderly sisters.

St Michaels was eventually sold and converted into private apartments.

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