St. Martha's Convent is set in large peaceful grounds opposite the village green in Rottingdean, with the sea a 5 minute stroll down the High Street.
There are no shortage of places to eat, with many pubs and cafes plus the fish and chip shop. The High Street has many small independent shops as well as a Tesco Express.
St. Martha’s Convent aims to be as environmentally friendly as possible, with a variety of plants to attract birds and insects. The gardens supply fruit and vegetables in season.
It is several years since the bees arrived. A local beekeeper has 2 sometimes 3 hives on our old tennis courts, and we are used to his visits dressed in his “anti-bee outfit” when he comes to check up on them. Our Holy bees come from Buckfast Abbey and pollinate our fruit and vegetables as well as giving us delicious honey.
The order of Saint Martha originated in France in 1643 with the Mother House based at Perigueux, but the Rottingdean convent was founded in 1903. The original site of the convent then named The Star of the Sea was much closer to the sea and the building is now occupied by The Thai restaurant. The Sisters then moved in 1924 to the current site, the present buildings stand on ground formerly occupied by Rudyard Kipling’s miniature rifle-range.
Saint Martha's Convent opened as a boarding school run by the Sisters of Saint Martha. When the school closed in 1969 St. Martha's began its transformation into the convent we have today.
Our beautiful chapel remains the same and is still very much in use however the rest of the convent has seen some major changes.
In the main house dormitories have been replaced by ensuite single rooms and classrooms joined to form our lounge/dining room whilst Our Lady's cottage no longer contains science rooms.
The grounds have changed, the fruit bed in 1954 is still used to grow fruit but the gooseberry bushes have been replaced with raspberries. The school’s tennis courts have “grassed over” and 3 bee hives replace tennis players!
Over 50 years ago part of our grounds were sold to the diocese and the local catholic primary school Our Lady of Lourdes was built on the site.
If you climb the many steps to visit the Nun's cemetery at the very top of the garden, the view has been unchanged for centuries .
The Sisters of Saint Martha have merged with the Sisters of Saint Jeanne Antide but the name of the convent has not changed.