Mother Mary Agnes Amherst
Mary Barbara Amherst was born in Essex on July 26 1824 to pious parents Mary Louise Amherst and William Kerrill Amherst. Her early life was spent at Fieldhouse in Kenilworth where her family moved when she was still a small child.
Following her education by the Benedictine nuns in Princethorpe, we read that she led a full and carefree life travelling abroad with the family on several occasions. When not travelling, she seems to have whiled away the time at Alton Towers, the ancestral home of the Earl of Shrewsbury, to whom she was related.
She became engaged to Augustus Welby Pugin, a famous architect at that time, but obviously this style of life that she was enjoying lost its appeal for her. She broke off her engagement and decided, after a period of reflection, to join the Sisters of Providence. The Order were living in Paget’s House, Woodgate, Loughborough, where Lady Mary Arundell had established a school on the premises.
On joining the Convent Mary Amherst chose the name of Agnes and during her time with the Order she was largely responsible for the growth and development of the Congregation of Sisters of Providence throughout England and Wales. It was mainly through Mary’s dowry and the generosity of Lady Arundell that Our Lady’ s Convent School (now Loughborough Amherst School) was built on the current site. Sister Mary Agnes went on to be Head of the school and the first English Superior of the Rosminian Sisters of the Convent, Loughborough and the community increased in the years that followed.
Sister Mary Agnes Amherst oversaw the establishment of a boarding school for girls, a school for poor children and an industrial school for young women from the local area, she died on 24 September 1860. The boarding school for girls eventually became a day school and continues to this day.
Loughborough Amherst School has witnessed many exciting changes over the past one hundred and sixty eight years and continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of education today.