St Francis

The Community of the Franciscan Servants of Jesus & Mary

On 28th June 1935 Mother Teresa and Sister Margaret made their life professions, their vows being received by Bishop Curzon of Stepney and for two years they worked in London.  In 1937 they moved to Witwell in the Isle of Wight, renting a house which they called the House of St Francis.  Here thy wored with women and children in neighouring parishes and held retreats for Externs, until the outbreak of war in 1939.

Travelling to and from the island became difficult making an end to the retreats, but the Sisters accepted four evacuees.  As the island suggered both from bombs dropped by raiders returning from London, Southampton or Portsmouth and raids on the radar sites about Ventnor, the evacuees were returned to the mainland.  The Sisters continued to work on the island, speak to young men at Camp Hill Borstal, talking to wives of prison officers at Parkhurst and helping with Sunday Schools, until in 1942 the authorities advised them to leave the island.

The House of St Francis they vacated later in the year became the officers mess of a battalion of the Devonshire Regiment.  The Sisters moved to Posbury House, which they renamed The House of St Francis.  With a great deal of hard work the house was made habitable and the ground brough into cultivation.  Hospitality was extended to many guests, a practise which has been maintained up to the present day.  The heavy bombing of Exeter, which destroyed much of the city centre took place in 1942 and the Bishop of Exeter asked the Sister to hold a retreat for the Ordination candidates.  This they continued to do until recently.

Additions to the house have been made over the years, including the enlargement of the chapel.

Until recently, when depletion in numbers prevented them from doing so, the Sisters continued to work in the community, sending out speakers to meetings of the Mothers Union, Youth Groups, confirmation classes and holding retreats. 

Thus Posbury, although barely locatable on the map, has been the source of considerable influence in many ways.

For sometime only 2 nuns remained at Posbury St Francis.  Mother Hilary died in February 2019, and Sister Giovanna currently remains living within the grounds of the house which was sold in 2020.