Phyllis Evelyn Stubbs 1892-1978, our Great Aunt, Missionary

Phyllis in Salonika( right ) , 1915 - 1918 as a nurse in WW1

Phyllis in Salonika, Greece ( right ) ,1918 as a nurse in WW1 ( a description of the fighting at Salonika)

Phyllis was one of two daughters of our Great Great Grandfather, Charles Stubbs, born 5/6/1892 at East Molsey, Surrey.  Phyllis was an art student in 1911, became a nurse in WW1 with the Red Cross, a teacher and missionary nun( Sister Bridget) .  She stayed unmarried.According to the letter below, she was at the Convent of East Hanningfield in the 1960’s. Which was a leper colony and isolation hospital in Essex. We assume she stayed there until she died in 1978.

Leper Colony, The Hospital and Homes of St.Giles, Bicknacre, Essex

In  approx.1867 a farmhouse and 27 acres of land was purchased outside of East Hanningfield for 1500 pounds . This was for a colony for lepers named St. Giles, it took its name for the patron saint of the crippled and afflicted. Lord Strathacona , a personal friend of John Burns donated 5,400 pounds and died the following day !  Father William’s order : The Society of the Divine Compassion took responsibility for running the colony. By 1914 there were two sisters from Guy’s hospital and two monks . ( I wonder if Phylis was one of them , although she went to war as a nurse). There were letters of complaint from the neighbourhood at this time. With time, the colony became accepted.

the hospital and homes of st giles Moor lane, Bicknacre, Essex, 1974 the Nuns meeting the Queen mother and the St. Mary’s bungalow

See the book by Peter Greave regards life at St Giles in the 1950’s . The time in which Phyllis would have been attending.

The Community of the Sacred Passion: The mother house of this community was based in the then Tanganyika , Africa, ( according to Dad, they were kicked out of Africa – by the government ?). St. Giles became a rest house for the sisters coming home to recuperate. ( of which Phylis would have been one ). Well done Phylis!

The hospital and homes were established in 1914 by the community of Church of England monks and nuns: The Society of the Divine Compassion and the Sisterhood of St. Giles. A charitable institution, the nuns and monks freely gave their time to treat British subjects resident in the British Isles who in almost all cases had caught leprosy in Europe. Initially the work was centred at Moor House, ( used by the monks and nuns who administered the facility )the converted farm, and St. Mary’s bungalow, the forerunner of the main hospital that still stands in the grounds.

Moor Hall, as it was known from 20th century maps , Block C, is the oldest building to survive .

By 1921 ( Phyllis would have come back from the war), the hospital was established on the present site. According to a Times article, (1921)there had been 15 patients taken since 1914 five of which were married men living with their wives ( who were not affected ). St. Giles was the only isolation leprosy colony in  Britain. It is now a residential unit for adults with learning disabilities.

HISTORY OF ST GILES re phyllis stubbs

Thanks to Gil,  we have a history of St. Giles hospital above.

There is a small woodland cemetery sited along the road( Moor Hall Road ),  to the north, and I am trying to find out if Phylis is buried there.

email re phyllis stubbs

St Giles church yard, Moor Hall Rd. East Hanningfield/ Bicknacre, Essex – leper cemetery. ( Now a wildlife trust nature reserve)

Above: About the community of the sacred passion above

East Hanningfield above

Phyllis stubbs taken during the war

Phyllis Stubbs possibly taken during the war when she was with the Red Cross

Child Hood : Phyllis was living at Stoneleigh , Epsom as an 8 year old in 1901 with her father Charles ( 50) and mother Frances (47) with a house maid , Elizabeth Barnes and a cook, Alice Palmer. The parish was S. Martin .

Phyllis aged 6

phyllis stubbs aged 6

1925, Phyllis left with Mary ( peggy ) Haslam

1925, Phylis left with Mary ( peggy ) Haslam

Peggy Haslam was the daughter of Francis Stubbs( Phyllis’s sister) and the Rev. William Haslam

1957_aunt_phyllis_essex with Joan Stubbs, Joan and John would visit her for lunch, according to Dad, a very humble lunch !

1966 letter from Phylis Stubbs

phyllis death certificate

Phyllis died of heart failure, 10th November, 1978 at St. John’s Hospital, Chelmsford.

St Giles Sisters' quarters photo 2015

St Giles Sisters’ quarters photo 2015

grave yard at St Giles.  two stones for sisters remaining and crosses for patients  Photo : 2015

grave yard at St Giles.
two stones for sisters remaining and crosses for patients
Photo : 2015

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36 Responses to Phyllis Evelyn Stubbs 1892-1978, our Great Aunt, Missionary

  1. Mrs Joan Zia says:

    I tried to send my reply, but no luck! I was a regular visitor to St Giles, My friend was a Sister. I was researching Anglican Religous Orders of UK. Very sad they have gone.
    If you wish to have a chat, kindly do call after 6pm: 01702-208723.
    But if not,I wish you all the best; and congratulate you for your interesting Website.

    • Hello Joan,
      Would you be kind enough to email me at my personal email: It has been a while since i posted information on Sister Phyllis Stubbs. I would greatly appreciate any further information on the order. I understand that Phyllis stubbs spent time also in Africa with the lepers. Perhaps you can email me. I will aso try to make a note of your number.
      Cheers, Jennifer

      • Richard Inglis says:

        Hi Jennifer
        I thought you might be interested.
        From 1961 to 1963 I was a young 13 year old patient at St Giles. I still live near Hanningfield in Leigh on Sea. I was completelu cured thanks to all the nuns and doctors in fa t I was the first one to leave the home cured. I am 65 now. years later I became a dricing instructor and taught 3 of the Nuns to drive. I took my wife and sons to visit as well. when I saw your photo of Sizter Phyllis I remembered her. She used to stand in for Sister Gloria. I have many memories. if you’d like to tzlk to me about my fond memories of the Sisters, patients and the home please reply and I’ll send you my phone number.

        richard and family

      • Oh my this is wonderful.
        Can you do me a favour and send me an email to my email address
        And my father , who is in his eighties at a nursing home in Australia would also love to hear your story.
        Please send me an email first with all the information you remember. I am in Canada and do not answer my phone much 416 282 8332
        however, maybe we could coordinate a call or a Skype.
        we know very little about Phyllis.
        My dad john stubbs married in London to my mum Joan in 1956 and they visited Phyllis.
        We have never been able to find out where she might be buried.
        This is an amazing story and I would LOVE TO HEAR MORE.
        Please email me , send me a photo too if you can and give me contact details.
        Thanks John and I look forward to hearing from you.

      • Richard Inghlis says:

        Hi, I have sent you an e mail with our details and telephone number. Please acknowledge receipt. Look forward to catching up. Richard and Iris Inglis

      • Thanks. My father got a copy of your email and he was very happy.
        Sister Bridgett was Phyllis’s name and wonder what you might remember of her?

      • Richard Inghlis says:

        Hi. Quickly acknowledging your e mail. Just got back from Sri Lanka – very jet lagged and trying to catch up with e mails. Yes my husband remembers Sister Bridget. Be in touch again soon with more details. Iris Inglis

      • Richard says:

        Hi I am so sorry I haven’t got back to you yet about St Giles. Things have been manic at home past few months helping family members move, work etc but I hope to retire sometime next year and will have time to look into this more for you. It’s pretty damp and soggy around Danbury now and not the weather for plodding around looking at the cemetery, I will come back to you and have kept your e mails in my In Box so I don’t forget. Kind regards.

      • thanks for thinking of me Richard.

      • Babs Inglis says:

        Hi. Just to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you. Weather has been rotten so as soon as it improves we’ll take a trip up to the homes and have a look for the grave. .I left your e mails in my In Box so they are not forgotten.
        Babs (real name Iris) Inglis

      • Thanks Iris.
        I appreciate it .
        I wish I knew what was Phylis’s name whilst a nun. And it would be interesting to find out where she might be buried.

      • Richard Inglis says:

        Hi Josephine.
        If you can send me a photograph of her – preferably when she was at St Giles or as near as I’ll see if Dick can recollect her name. Our e mail address is

      • Hello
        I have sent an email from my work with a photo of Phyllis stubbs nun in 1957,

      • Hello Again Iris,
        I think that Phyllis called herself sister Bridgett.
        I see the name Bridgett on a letter on my blog.

      • Iris Inglis says:

        Hi Jennifer
        Sorry it has been so long – don’t know where the time has gone. Today we had to drive up to Braintree and on the way back as it was such a nice day we decided to detour off to Hanningfield and I got Dick (what his family call him) to stop at the homes. It is all very changed now. The bungalow where he lived when he was a patient is till there but completely modernised. The graveyard has been turned into a nature reserve and it is very muddy. I took some photos for you and as I was taking one of the building where the sisters lived a woman came out. I suppose she wondered why I was out of the car taking photos. We got talking and she was very interested in St Giles history as well and gave me her e mail address. That is now one house she said. Anyway I could not find the grave. Dick remembers Sister Bridget (I only ever remember meeting Sister Gloria just before they left for Birmingham. We did go up there once when our eldest was a baby and took all the sisters for an ice cream but that would have been after Phyllis/Sister Bridget died.)
        The graveyard had patients on one side where there were a lot of crosses with names but on the other side only 2 stones remained. I have taken photos for you anyway. I also found a useful history of some research of the site that was commissioned when it was taken over and redeveloped by Springboard that you might find useful. Let me know as well if you’d like the name and e mail address of the lady I met in the garden of what was the sisters’ home. Can you give me your e mail address as it would make it easier to send links to you to these sites and also I can send the photographs I took as I can’t seem to attach them here. The lady called Heather also mentioned this other book you told me about. Dick knew of him and also another chap who was an artist. Kind regards. Babs.
        (If I am confusing you with names, my real name is Iris but I am known as Babs (baby Iris) and my husband has always been called Dick by the family. I’ll send you the photos if you can e mail me at – there’s an underscore not a dash between the name.

      • Thanks Babs,
        Please feel free to send me the email address of the lady you were talking to.
        I love the photos and am sending some to my dad.
        you have my email :
        The history link would be lovely also and I will post the link on the blog.
        Glad that Dick remembered Sister Bridget

      • Joan Zia Mrs says:

        Hi, I had thought your site was closed – but came across it today! Here is my home land line : – evening best from 5 pm, or after 6 pm for as long as you wish.
        Sorry, my husband has been unwell for a long time. But, I really would love to chat, if you can? My home land is:# 01702 204667.
        And I live not too far to the former Convent and land. (Its sad)

        Joan Zia

      • Hi Joan,
        Sorry I dont’ check my blog very often. Where are you living ? I could try and call , just have to get the timing right.
        feel free to also talk to me on my gmail.

      • Joan,
        Can you please confirm your location?

  2. Josephine Felton says:

    I am interested in a particular patient at St. Giles, real name Peter Carberry but who wrote under the name Peter Greave. I have been given a trunk with all his journals from Calcutta in 1937 until he went blind in St. Giles in 1965. His autobiographies are fascinating “The Seventh Gate” and “The Second Miracle” (which is the one about St. Giles.) He also spoke on the BBC and appeared on a T.V. programme in Ireland, Face to Face. He is the one who married one of the nuns, who sadly died at the Home later, but this part of his life is not recorded. His erstwhile secretary is a friend of mine and I am gathering what information I can before depositing these diaries with a suitable archive, probably one to do with India.
    Anything anyone can add would be welcome.

    • Hey
      Sorry I have no further info on St Giles.

    • Babs Inglis says:

      Hi Josephine. I am in touch with Stubbs. A bit remiss of me but still have to get back to them as I promised to go up to St Giles and try and find the grave of one of her relatives who was a Nun in the home but work, weather etc it’s on my to do list. Just to say my husband was a patient at St Giles in the sixties and was also Anglo-Indian. He knew Peter, a very clever man he said. We did visit the Nuns when they left St Giles to somewhere in Birmingham when we took our eldest son who as a baby with us. My husband taught some of the Nuns to drive as well in the 80s just before they left the home and convent. My husband was first one to be sent home cured, he was admitted as a teenager and left 3 years later. He also spoke (incognito) on BBC Radio to raise funds for the homes.

      • Hello
        I see that Phyllis died in 1978.
        I am not sure when they went to Birmingham , perhaps you can find out.
        If they want to Birmingham late after 1978 then Phyllis is most likely buried near the convent.
        Thanks Jennifer

    • Iris Inglis says:

      Hi Josephine. My husband was a patient at St Giles in the 1960s and remembers Peter. He was the first patient to be allowed home again, cured (or as they called it then in remission). If you’d like to contact me my e mail address is My husband was born in India and the family moved to the UK after independence and he was later diagnosed with the condition and had to moved from Southend on Sea in Essex to St Giles in East Hanningfield which is about half hour by car.

    • Mary says:

      Hello. I am writing on behalf of Anwei Law who has done extensive oral history around the world with people who had leprosy. She is currently involved with the International Coalition of Historic Sites of Exclusion and Resistance which promotes the memory of people who had the disease. Here is the web sit:
      One of these individuals she interviewed was Les Parker, who lived at St. Giles during the time of Peter Greave. Anwei visited St. Giles several times to meet with Les. During that time, Les talked a lot about Peter and shared a photo of him for our publication “Illuminating Ourselves.: The photo accompanied an excerpt from Peter Greave’s book “The Second Miracle.” Les also created a panel featuring Peter Greave, for our Banner of Honor that recognizes significant contributions of individuals who have had the leprosy.
      Through Irene Allen of LEPRA we have been trying to identify Peter’s grave. Would your friend have an idea where it is located. Also, did you find a home for Peter’s archives?
      Thank you for your time and interest.

    • Richard says:

      Josephine Felton

      I have made contact with the sisters! They are living in Shoreham by Sea in West Sussex. I spoke to Sister Gillian Mary. She remembers Peter Carberry.

      Address is :
      Community of the Sacred Passion
      22 Buckingham Road
      Shoreham by Sea
      West Sussex
      BN43 5UB

      Her phone number is 01273 453807

      She is now 87 years old. There are six of the sisters from the order still alive.

      Let me know how you get on.


      Babs Inglis

  3. customisemytee says:

    I wonder if anyone in this stream can help? I am trying to find out more info about my great aunt Sister Margaret D Millar-Nicol. I found an outward bound info on her to africa in 1951. and it says she was a sister at the convent east hanningfield and born in 1918. if anyone can halp on any info I would greatly appreciate it, My email is

  4. Joan Zia says:

    Hi – I am “Joan”, as mentioned on mail. My hubby has been still un well. My home tel is still near Hockley now.
    I am in doors etc, evening, if you call?
    I would be glad,to chat my many visits to Anclican nuns; and I found the older days were very interesing!
    It feels a sad loss of Sisters all over the lang etc.
    ** Please call me / O1702/ 204667
    All the best.
    Sincely –

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