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HERITAGE SCHOOLS OF COLONIAL CALCUTTA – Loreto House

Loreto House School Kolkata

Sailing on a ship named The Scotia, a group sisters belonging to the institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, left Dublin on 1st September, 1841 under the leadership of Mother Delphine Hart and landed at Babughat, Kolkata on December 29, 1841. After formal welcome and religious ceremony at the Cathedral on Portuguese Church Street, they were camped in a house in Middleton Row. Earlier, the building was occupied by many famous people like Henry Vansittart, the then Governor of Bengal, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at Calcutta, Sir Elijah Impey, and the Second Anglican Bishop of Calcutta, Bishop Heber. Loreto House School was opened in this building on the 10th day of January, 1842.

St. Thomas Church
St. Thomas Church

Meanwhile, within the same campus, the construction of St. Thomas’ Church, had begun from November 11,1841.  Archbishop of Calcutta, also constructed his personal residence next to the church and at the doorstep of Loreto House, which in those days, was known as St. Thomas’ House. Today, St. Thomas’ Church and a part of the college building are the only remnants of the old original premises. The Provincial of the Loreto institute in India now resides within the walls that first housed Loreto College.
Located at 7, Middleton Row, and established in 1842, Loreto House is the oldest and the first Loreto institution that was established in India. It was also one of the few all-girls Catholic schools during that Time.The School started with 60 students who were taught in a house where nuns resided under the leadership of Mother Delphine Hart, assisted by Sr. Teresa Mons and Sr. Martina McCann.

St. Thomas’ lost its steeple due to a severe earthquake in 1897. By the turn of the century the old Loreto House building was extended as a part of the planned programme, since the School needed more space as it grew larger. After a few more years, St. Thomas’ House was purchased from the Archbishop, to be used primarily for the Infant School classes. However, the newly established Loreto College was housed there on the 2nd day of February, 1912.

Despite the earlier extension, the old Loreto House building was still not large enough to fulfill its purpose. Hence, plot no.8 Middleton Row was purchased and on the combined ground of no 7 and no 8, St, Anne’s building was constructed. Finally, a three storey wing was constructed in 1950s, at right angles to Middleton Street.

Initially the School was established for the education of Catholic girls. However, that restrictive policy has long been abolished. At present, there are two School buildings, one housing the junior and Middle School, and the other the senior school and its laboratories. The School follows the syllabus of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations and prepares the students for  ICSE and the ISC examinations.

Loreto House School
Loreto House School

Extracurricular activities of the School include Dance Club, a Cookery Club, Mathematics and Science Clubs, to cater to the diverse talents of the students. It has three basketball courts, along with a spacious lawn for children to play.

Unfortunately, the old Loreto House building was demolished during 1958-1961, as it was declared unsafe by the city architects. However, the new Loreto House was also constructed as per the requirements of the new age. Today, only original buildings on the premises are the St. Thomas’ Church and a part of the building where the college was first established.

Loreto House Alumnae
Loreto House Alumnae
Dibyendu Banerjee
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

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