Opened as a convent school in 1872

Originally the school site was part of the Stanford Estate and in the 1870s it was leased out to Edward King, who used the site as a market garden to supply fresh salad and vegetables to the local Brighton market.

Convent school opened in 1872
The nuns of the Sacred Heart order were granted permission by the Bishop to set up their convent and school on the south coast of England. The Hove site suited their needs perfectly as it was a green field site located outside Brighton and Hove, secluded and secure from the bustle of the city. Building work started in 1870 and the convent and school were opened in 1872.

New wing in 1901
The nuns themselves supervised the building work and the local community would comment, as the nuns walked up what was then called Nunnery Hill, that they were building their own prison. The nuns were responsible for the landscaping of the site, and the planting of the trees that adorn the school today. In 1901 a new wing was added to the school to accommodate another convent from Beauvais in Northern France. The CG6 wing was built as a complete school. The French nuns, students and all of their belongings were moved into this building.

First Catholic comprehensive school in Sussex
The nuns eventually left Hove in 1966 as Brighton was becoming too ‘racey’. The site and buildings were acquired by the Diocese, and the De La Salle Brothers took over the running of the school until they moved out in 1971.  Bishop David Cashman was the guiding force behind the establishment of the first Catholic comprehensive school in Sussex.

Adapting to modern needs
The school was the amalgamation of De La Salle, an independent Grammar School, Cottesmore Secondary Modern School, Lourdes Convent, Blessed Sacrament Convent, and eventually the Fitzherbert School became part of the new Cardinal Newman Catholic School. A large building programme was put in place to adapt the school to the needs of a modern comprehensive school. This process has continued throughout the life of the school culminating in the opening of The Sacre Coeur Learning Centre in 2005.

Comments about this page

  • Having passed my 11 plus at Cottesmore I went to De La Salle in 1969. The Brothers were a strange bunch, some were very friendly and approachable, others very aloof and to be frank quite scary. I remember that the discipline was amazingly strict, a plimsol was a thing to be feared, not worn! I particularly remember being involved in a cricket match at Wish park after school when one of the brothers (Edward?) predicted that the next ball we bowled would go for a boundary, when it did I said that he shouldn’t have said anything. I was instructed to go and see Brother Gerald next morning, needless to say I chose not to, hoping that the matter would be forgotten. During a lesson, in walked Brother Gerald brandishing a plimsoll, I was called to the front of the class and took my punishment like a man (well a 12 year old boy); hurt like hell, but taught me to always face up to a problem rather than hope it will disappear. The buildings themselves were very eerie at times, it was the sort of place that you didn’t really want to be alone in, although with all its little nooks and crannies there were a few places that a boy and girl could find to be together in!

    By neil underhill (01/09/2010)
  • I attended De La Salle and in it’s previous incarnation Xaverian College from 1963-1970. My memories also are very mixed including Brother John (Chemistry) blowing up a pop bottle to show that hydrogen and oxygen together are explosive. Teachers were a mix of lay and brothers and our A level biology teacher was Rod Concannon. Life in 6th form was more relaxed when we had a common room in the attic where smoking was permitted. A few girls had joined us in the 6th form and they were certainly held in awe by lads who had been in a single sex school for too long.

    By David Harrison (27/01/2013)
  • Ex pupils of Xaverian College, Brighton and De la Salle College Hove may be interested to know that there is now a Facebook Group ‘Xaverian College, Brighton’. Former pupils of both schools are welcome to join. The link is: There are also a number of other postings and photos on this site (My Brighton and Hove) under: Home/Places/Parks/Queens Park/History of Atree’s Villa (Containing a number of postings), Home/Places/Schools/Xaverian College and Home/Places/Schools/De la Salle School.

    By Mike Davey (24/10/2014)
  • I have just read in my grandmother’s diary that she was billeted at Sacred Heart convent in Hove during World War 1. She was working as a VAD nurse at a military hospital 2nd Eastern General in Brighton.

    By Catherine Harris (09/01/2017)

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