In 1914 the Sisters of Mercy came to Twickenham at the request of Canon English, the Parish Priest of St. James’s. The School was named after St. Catherine of Siena – the patron of the Superior who was responsible for responding to the request of Canon English. The house in which the school was established still bears the name: “St. Catherine’s”.
In 1919 the Convent and School moved to the present site of Pope’s Villa, with its buildings and grounds on both sides of Cross Deep joined by the underground passage known as Pope’s Grotto. By 1920 there were 100 children in the school of whom about 20 were boarders.
In 1948 the Lawn was purchased and by March 1949 had been converted and extended. The ground floor was used as School Kitchens and Dining Room and the First Floor for the teaching of Domestic Science (Cookery and Housecraft) and extra classrooms.
In 1954 a pre-fabricated Hall with good stage facilities was built and paid for entirely by the parents. This gave facilities for Drama and Concert work for which the need had long been felt.
By the late 1960s it was possible to have a full two form entry school as a result of the continuous building programme, the most substantial changes being St. Josephs building in 1959 and the Science block in 1960. A third floor was added to St. Joseph’s in 1966. St. Catherine’s was the first school locally to build an indoor swimming pool (1969). In 1978 a new Zoology Laboratory was built under the existing Science Block.
In 1991 the Sisters of Mercy moved out of St Catherine’s, after 77 years of dedicated service. They sold the ‘river side’ site and a charitable trust was set up by the parents, who purchased the ‘garden’ site and appointed the first lay Headmistress in order to ensure that the school would continue to function and thrive.
In 2008 an extension to the Prep School was completed, comprising three new classrooms and a library. In September 2010 new extensions were added to St Joseph’s, with a new Sixth Form Centre; changing rooms as well as new facilities for Art, Photography, Food Technology, History and Science.
Construction work continued on the Lawn Building and by September 2011 St Catherine’s boasted brand new dining facilities as well as more teaching areas.
The school has 450 pupils at present, with 135 in the Prep School and 325 in the Senior School. The charism of the Sisters of Mercy is still very much alive as was evident when we celebrated 100 years of excellence in ‘Mercy’ education in 2014.
We are now moving forward towards the next 100 years as we commence another phase of development, upgrading the Sports facilities and the Music Department in our quest to give our girls the facilities that will help them to strive for excellence in everything they do.