NUN RUNS AWAY FROM CONVENT
Actress's Sister Chased by Other Nuns in a Waggonette
Based on a Report in the Star Newspaper February 23, 1909
Other newspapers also reported the events surrounding Madge Moult's escape from the Benedictine Convent of St. Mary's, East Bergholt, Suffolk, in great detail. "The Star" reported, "An amazing story of a girl's escape from a Roman Catholic Convent has caused a sensation in the neighborhood. Yesterday week, (15th February 1909), one of the nuns, Madge Moult, escaped under circumstances which are extraordinarily dramatic.
Travellers who had arrived at Manningtree from Ipswich at 6:28 PM were surprised when they were half way between the station and the convent to see a nun running about two miles from the convent. As the travelers passed the convent they were still more surprised to see the main gates burst open and out came a wagonnette containing nuns driving at a rapid pace.
The escaping nun must have lost her way as it was eight o'clock before she arrived at the bottom of the long road leading up to the station. By now her nun's garb was wet through and covered with mud and dirt. She did not know an inch of the district and how she eventually found her way to Manningtree Station as she did is a mystery.
As Miss Moult arrived at the station, after her came the party of nuns in the waggonnette. They also were wet through having conducted a search for the escaped nun in nearby woods. They caught up with the "fugitive" as she was within a few yards of the station door, ascending a private pathway belonging to Great Eastern Railway. Here an extraordinary scene occurred.
The nuns jumped down form the waggonette and seized the fugitive woman who screamed and clung to the railing, declaring amid heart-broken sobs that she would not go back to the nunnery, saying, "I will go to my mother." They dragged her to the waggonnette and undoubtedly she would have been carried off but for the intervention of railway staff. The station-master and his staff escorted her from the waiting room to the midnight mail train.
It appears she has been in the convent for seven years, since she was sixteen, and had been planning the escape for two years. Throughout her time at the convent she had repeatedly asked to see her mother, a request that had been refused. This is the third escape from this convent. The first took place many years ago, when a nun sought the protection of a shoemaker, who kept her for two days and then sent her to her family home. Fourteen years ago a nun ran out of the building into the home of Archdeacon Woolley, Vicar of East Bergholt. The kindly vicar sheltered her until he had communicated with her parents and then sent her home."
This case caused a good deal of public interest and through 1909 the press was full of further reports on the Convent and Miss Moult. In London further attempts by the Roman Catholic hierarchy to get Miss Moult to return to another nunnery or leave the country were made. The Protestant Alliance, however, helped the family financially and legally, Miss Moult later undertook a speaking tour, lecturing on convent life and its dangers.
The Protestant Alliance also made a presentation to the station staff of a Bible, Foxe's Book of Martyrs and a watch. Less fortunate was the convent gardener who aided the escape. The Roman authorities moved him to Canada.