The Community of St. Andrew collection has recently been catalogued and is now available for research. It has taken 4 months to catalogue nearly 50 boxes of archive material and you can search the collection on our online archive catalogue. The material charts the establishment of the first Deaconess religious community in the Church of England from its beginnings in the 1860s to the present day.
The Community of St. Andrew, or the North London Deaconess Institution as it was called in 1861, moved to Tavistock Crescent in Westbourne Park in the early 1870s where the mother house stayed for the next 130 years. The community always had a dual purpose of performing prayer and worship for the surrounding community it resided in and performing good works for the community. The collection contains much material that reflects the dual purpose of the community with many papers documenting the rules that the sisters followed in their daily life and the compassionate work carried out by the sisters.
There is a whole series of papers on ‘The Religious Life’ that contains many papers written by sisters and Mother Superiors in the community which give evidence to the theological motivations for the actions of the community. Mother Clare who was Mother Superior from 1942-1964 was particularly prolific and the collection contains many addresses that she made to religious conferences during her service as Mother Superior.
There are some records created by the foundress of the community, Elizabeth Ferard, including her Diary that she kept while on Deaconess training at Kaiserswerth in Germany and notes she made during the Deaconess Conference in 1861 where she put forward questions about how she should establish and develop the Deaconess order in England. An extract of these minutes can be seen below:
The community established many branch houses over its lifetime and there is material that relates to the administration of these houses and the works they undertook. As the numbers of sisters in the community reduced, these branch houses were closed and sisters who worked there recalled to the Mother House. The correspondence documenting these closures highlights the effects they had on the sisters involved and how the community as a whole adapted to these changes.
As the numbers of sisters in the community dwindled the need for the larger Mother House at Tavistock Crescent was reduced and the mother house was reduced in size through refurbishment and then finally handed over to the Anglican Communion Office in the early 2000s when the community moved to Verona Court in Chiswick. They retained an office at Tavistock Road where they still have a presence today.
The collection also has a series of records concerning the Deaconess order in general. Members of the community were very actively involved in national Deaconess committees and conferences and their activities are documented in correspondence and minutes of meetings. There is also a sizeable collection of newsletters relating to the Deaconess order.
You can find the collection on the archive catalogue by searching for the order number prefix CSA. Visit our reading room to see any papers you are interested in.