300 years of schooling

‘School Town’ was the nickname for Brighton in Victorian times. The health resort attracted dozens of small private boarding schools for gentlemen and ladies. Groups of pupils promenaded the seafront in their Sunday best, shepherded by tutors, on the way to church. Roedean, the famous girls school, was established in Lewes Crescent in 1885.

‘Freeschooles’, which were charity-run schools, were first recorded over 300 years ago. Many of them were funded by donations from the public. Others were set up by the Church of England. Most of the 56 children who left Bartholomews ‘freeschoole’ in 1705 became sailors.

Gradually, the state took over education. By 1900, school was compulsory and free for children under thirteen. There were special schools for truants. In 2000, Brighton and Hove Council ran 48 schools. The tradition of private seafront schools still flourishes, but nowadays for foreign students learning English.

Comments about this page

  • I am very interested in the schooling available to the children from poor families in Brighton in the late 19thC. My great grandparents lived on Edward Street from c1880 to 1898 and brought up three sons there. The two eldest went on to become school masters and both eventually became headmasters. As I am told that Edward Street was not a very salubrious area at the time and my great grandfather worked as an ostler at a veterinary practice, I am intrigued to know how they managed to educate two children to such a standard and which school the boys are likely to have attended. Were scholarships available? Do any records survive? If anyone can give me any ideas on this I would be most grateful.

    By Ann Rains (02/12/2005)
  • Has anybody any knowledge of Warrens Farm School in Brighton as recorded on my grandfather’s naval record in 1901? This site is the nearest I have got to old Brighton schools in months of research for this family foundling.

    By Jacqui (26/01/2006)
  • The Warren Farm School was part of the Brighton Workhouse and was in Woodingdean. It became the Fitzherbert School, prior to the Nuffield hospital being built on the site. My Father spent his school days here.

    By Yvonne Taylor (23/10/2006)
  • Does anyone have information about Copeland, a school my mother attended around 1920?

    By Lucilda Hunter (04/12/2006)
  • Are there any ex-pupils from Lourdes Convent, Withdean, (now closed) who attended the Convent between 1956-1961 (as I did) reading this column? If so, why and when did the school close?

    By Chris (16/01/2007)
  • Hi Chris, I was at the school until 1958. Do you remember me? Josie

    By Josephine Stevenson (28/01/2007)
  • I was at Lourdes Convent between 1954 and 1960. Would love to hear from any of my old school friends.

    By Sally-Ann Schertle (nee. Richardson) (03/02/2007)
  • Hi Sally-Ann. I think we might have been in the same classes. My maiden name was McKerchar. Do you remember Judy Dare or Elizabeth Abernethy?

    By Christine Ball (07/04/2007)
  • I was at Varndean Grammar School from 1953-1959 and knew a number of the Lourdes Convent girls through travelling with them on the bus to and from school. I remember Elizabeth Abernethy, though not very well. Other names that come to mind are Janis Prosser, Anne Fulgoni, June Cross, Wendy Arnold, Tessa Garland, Gloria Banks and Sandra Durrant. Where are you all now? Happy days!!

    By Glyn Kraemer-Johnson (24/07/2007)
  • I was at Lourdes Convent as a boarder from 1952 to 1957. I remember going back several times, the last in the mid 1960s and hearing from the nuns that the site was being sold for building re-development (so nothing new there then!). The nuns were going back to the mother house in France. Love to hear from anyone who remembers me.

    By Sheila Coles (08/08/2007)
  • Sheila, you must have known some of the girls I mentioned in my last comment. I’d love to know what happened to them. Frightening to think they must all, like me, be pensioners!

    By Glyn Kraemer-Johnson (09/08/2007)
  • Glyn, One or two names are familiar though the ones I really remember were boarders, like me and of course the nuns especially Mother Margaret Mary and Mother Madeleine, I remember with affection. I was friendly with Pamela Malham and her younger sister Sally, does anyone remember them? As you say Glyn, it is frightening where the years have gone and all those girls, like me, are pensioners!

    By Sheila (28/08/2007)
  • Glyn, I was at Lourdes Convent from 1953 until 1963. I started in the junior school at the age of 6 and left when I was 16. Elizabeth Abernethy, Janis Prosser and Anne Fulgoni were in my sister’s class. Her name is Elizabeth King and she became Head Girl. The senior school closed when Cardinal Newman Comprehensive School opened. I can’t remember which year it was. The pupils transferred to the new school. Cardinal Newman School used to be the Sacred Heart Convent in Hove.

    By Helen King (13/01/2008)
  • I was at the school (Lourdes) from 1952 to 1963. I am in touch with others if you are interested.

    By Joanna (Pound) now Beazley Richards (13/01/2008)
  • Joanna, I would be interested to know if you know anyone I knew when I was at Lourdes Convent from 1952 to 1957. I was a boarder and so obviously knew other boarders better than day girls as we were together the whole time. Perhaps you could post some names. I don’t recognise any of the names posted by Helen but she is 5 years younger than me. Thanks if you can help.

    By Sheila (Coles) now Allain (19/01/2008)
  • Hi Glyn, I recently saw a site that said Janice Prosser now lives in San Fransisco. I knew Anne Fulgoni at primary school (St. John the Baptist) also her cousin Catherine Fulgoney.

    By Jackie Soutar (nee Gladwell) (05/05/2008)
  • Does anyone have any knowledge of St Nicholas School in Frederick Place which closed in 1944 (I think)? The building was later used as a community space by St Nicholas Church but having been industrial space is now converted to flats. Any knowledge of it as a school would be welcome.

    By Robert Minton (28/05/2008)
  • I am looking to know whether anyone remembers Patsy Nutkins. She attended the Sacred Heart Convent in Brighton in the early 1960s (1961 – 1964). I am trying to track her down along with her elder brother John Nutkins. They are both cousins of my Mother Veronica Paskins (nee Murphy).

    By Jason Paskins (01/08/2008)
  • Have just read some of the comments from those who were at Lourdes Convent from 1954 – 1959 and I recognized many of the names – Christine McKerchar, Judy Dare, Janis Prosser and certainly many of the nuns named. Does anyone know what happened to the two Iraqi sisters Nawal and Nejla Kamil Jamil? Pamela Mallum lived with us for a while. If I had known that Janis Prosser now lives in San Francisco I would have looked you up this summer – look forward to hearing from any of you soon.

    By Sally-Ann Schertle (nee Richardson) (25/10/2008)
  • Does anyone know much about what I believe was called Preston Church of England Primary School at the bottom of North Road in Preston Village, opposite Preston Drove. It is the gothic looking building that has now been converted into cottages. I live in one and was curious about the history and when it was built.

    By Caroline Hartley (13/11/2008)
  • I was at Lourdes convent from 1957.

    By Dominique Olszewski (25/11/2008)
  • l am responding to Jason Paskins message. l am Patsy, and l am pleased to give you my email address, so you can contact me. l would like to connect with you. patrizia_murphy@yahoo.co.uk

    By Patricia Murphy (01/01/2009)
  • I was at Lourdes Convent from 1954 to 1959. After that I lived in the United States for a year, returned to Brighton and then back to the US in 1963. I would love to hear from any of my classmates at Lourdes: Ann Fulgoney, Shelagh Hogan, Judy Merricks, Brenda Mustard etc.

    By Janice Leach nee Prossor (20/02/2009)
  • Hello..I attended St John the Baptist School in the 1950s and remember Janice Prosser, Anne Fulgoney, Sheila Hogan et al…..as did Des Lynam who also attended the school. Both Des and I heard that Janice was due to visit the UK soon and we would like to get in touch. We went on to Varndean and some of the girls went to Lourdes Convent. Do get in touch if you can help.

    By Patrick Dale (23/07/2009)
  • Sally-Ann Schertle (nee Richardson) – During spring cleaning in July, I came across a notice you sent me while I was living in Hawaii announcing the birth of your son, Mark, born in 1977. I Googled your name and found reference to you here. Would love to hear from you after losing touch with you all those years ago. I think of you often and how you have fared over the years. Your old friend, Vivienne, back in California.

    By Vivienne Earl Infante (03/08/2009)
  • Does anyone have any knowledge of St Ann’s Convent, Brighton?  I was there from 1946-1951. A photo or photos would be appreciated.

    By Michael Gormley (17/08/2009)
  • This is a reply to Caroline Hartley, who asked about Preston Primary School on 13/11/2008. My grandmother was Caroline Dier, who lived in Preston Cottage in North Road, Preston in the 1940s and 1950s. She was the caretaker of the school for many years and didn’t retire until she was 70. When I was a little girl I spent hours with her while she was doing her cleaning in the school. She was great friends with the headmistress – Mrs Thorn I believe – and they used to socialize outside school hours. The school was the most charming place imaginable, full of wonderful books, a beautiful doll’s house furnished with tiny things and a piano. I was fascinated by the tiny yellow ceramic lavatories in the yard outside and the little wooden chairs and desks. My grandmother used to teach the children to read and write, that would not be permitted today, but I believe she was very good at it. I am glad that the building was renovated, rather than demolished.

    By Carolyn Wheeler (13/09/2009)
  • This is in reply to Michael Gormley, I was also at St Ann’s Convent, Lansdowne Road, Hove in 1956 and 1957, so this was later than you, but I am also surprised that there is hardly any trace of the convent on the net or anywhere, as if it never existed. I have no photos except recent ones; it is a Buddhist temple now.

    By Raymond Walton (01/10/2009)
  • I was at Lourdes Convent from 1952 to 1963 mostly as a boarder my name was Anne Leach then, would love to hear from other pupils, especially Wendy Wallace as she was then and Jacqueline from Madacascar. I am now living in South Africa but went to visit the nuns a few times on my return trips before the school closed.

    By Anne Gee (06/03/2010)
  • I have just read this page once again and just cannot believe my luck and utter joy. One of my most dear friends – Vivienne Earl Infante – has made contact. I have been trying for years to try and make contact with you – have written letters and e-mails etc to various people and never with any luck. Vivienne, I would love to hear from you – my e-mail address sallyschertle@hotmail.com – please do get in touch as we have so much catching up to do. I do hope this works and we find each other again.

    By Sally-Ann Schertle (nee Richardson) (11/03/2010)
  • This is responding to Michael Gormley: I was at St Anne’s from late 50s until 1966. I have photos of the place after it closed and was left empty for years – all the empty rooms were quite scary.

    By Pam Hagon (16/03/2010)
  • My sister, Susan, and I went to Lourdes Convent around 1939 – yes, I know, a long time ago. But I have such good memories of the time I was there – the kindly nuns, Mother Superior, my love and ability to speak French from a young age. Is there anyone out there who may have been there at the same time. Love and all good wishes. Sally 7/6/2010

    By sally notman (07/06/2010)
  • I just pulled up this page again, and wanted to say that I was recently reunited with five girls from my Lourdes Convent class. It was wonderful, thanks to this page. I am now in touch with others via e-mail. Sally-Ann..I remember you really well and I see that you were in San Francisco a couple of years ago. Does anyone have an address for Ann Fulgoney? Thanks

    By Janice Leach (nee Prossor) (17/06/2010)
  • My sister Janine and I were at Lourdes Convent until 1960. It’s wonderful to see a few familiar names. Does anyone know what happened to Sally Ann Marshall, Jacqueline Maynard, Tessa Harrison, Pru Towner, Tessa ABC, Fiona Warren, Celia Sandys, Virginia Tchcovska (?), Annabella Jackson, the twins? I cried 20 years ago when I saw Mother Christine and others.

    By Ines Hayes (Giganti) (24/02/2011)
  • I was at Lourdes Convent, Withdean from 1958 until 1969/70. The classmates I remember are Sharon ?, Fiona Lamarque, Bernadette Johnson, Susan Richards, Cynthia Shields, Carol Batchelor, Sarah Gunn and Victoria Peske. I was the curley brown-haired, shy and not much liked girl. Staff: Mrs Bingham, Miss Welford, Mother Mary Agnes, Mother Catherine (Patty White) Mother Mary Magdalene, Mrs Tobin, Mrs Johnson, the cook Mother Claire, Mr Langridge, Mrs DaPaiva and Mrs Sexton.

    By Stephanie Hubert (25/02/2011)
  • I was at Lourdes Convent from 1967 – 1971 when it closed – I was 16 when it closed. My closest friends were Sylvia Harris, Caroline? and Paula (Paula lived in the cottage within the Convent’s grounds). I also remember Mother Mary Agnes, Mother Catherine, Mr.Langridge (I did “O” level music) and Mrs.Bingham (I also seem to remember a Mr.Bingham. I have lived in Hong Kong where I had my children but now live back in East Sussex.

    By Angela Welton (nee Symondson) (12/09/2011)
  • Further to my entry yesterday re Lourdes Convent, my friends were Sylvia Harris, Caroline Tyler, Paula Fitzgerald and Amanda Casson – the last names came to me whilst walking in Ditchling Common this morning.

    By Angela Welton (nee Symondson) (13/09/2011)
  • Fascinating reading : I was a day girl at Lourdes Convent until it shut down, when I would have been about six years old. I recall lining up ” on the other side ” to file two-by-two over to the beautiful ‘Manor’-style house and Chapel – for either prayers or lunch. The aroma of floor wax, and good home-cooked food (the strawberry jam tart) will never leave me. I have a haunting and somewhat bizarre photo of myself dressed as a daisy and other pupils as a variety of plants / trees /insects, being herded around by what looks like the Grim Reaper, complete with scythe. Anyone able to shed any light on this?

    By Melanie Mayone-Radford ( formerly Payne ) (18/01/2012)
  • My new book “A History of Brighton Workhouses”, including the history of Warren Farm, is being published this week. For more information, please go to: http://www.jamesgardnerauthor.com

    By James Gardner (02/05/2012)
  • Re Lourdes Convent, Preston Park. I am not sure if the people who have been commenting on Lourdes Convent on this site know that there is another site in mybrightonandhove.org specifically relating just to Lourdes Convent. Check it out, there are many interesting stories and anecdotes there.

    By Janet (née Wood) Flesher (09/05/2012)
  • I came across this page by accident, and it was lovely to see people reminiscing about teachers and the school which, on return from many years in Australia, I was so disappointed to discover had disappeared. I often wonder what our stories are….are there ever any reunions?

    By Patricia Barry née Breden (06/11/2012)
  • I was at Lourdes Convent 1951-54. Names I remember are June Field, Janet Belder, Hilary and Vanessa Stevens, Margaret Rocca (who was a boarder). I hope you are all still out there somewhere. It would be good to hear from you.

    By Jill Williams (31/01/2013)
  • Janet Wood and Patricia Breden – I have recently left a note on the other site that Janet mentioned. Remember Shiel Toller, Biba, Ann Canning, Beverly Thompson, Victoria, Janet Thompson? Patricia, Janet Thompson and I were at Stella Maris, Portslade together before Lourdes. My email is eugeniayoung@talktalk.net

    By Eugenia Patricia Young (25/02/2013)
  • I attended Lourdes Convent for 12 years, beginning in 1946 in the Montessori Class. I remember so many of the names of pupils and teachers mentioned above.  I live in West Wales as do two of my children, but Daniel and his family live in Brighton – it’s nice to feel I still have a connection there!

    By Janet Welch (nee Hiscock) (22/10/2013)
  • Does anybody have any idea where the ‘Hove House School’ was? My great great grandfather is noted to have gone there in 1851 and I can’t find any information on it anywhere!

    By Roz (05/12/2014)
  • I have in my possession a medal that I take was presented to my great gran it reads ELIZ ELLIOTT 1898 NEVER LATE ALL SOULS SCHOOL BRIGHTON has anyone any information about it my dad was born in Brighton as was myself & older brother and we lived in BENNETT  ROAD WHITEHAWK we moved to NEWCASTLE when I was about 5 (65 yrs ago) that’s where our mam came from. 

    By Mr.B.Justice (04/05/2016)
  • For those that are interested, the records office at The Keep has a number of County Borough of Brighton Education Committee yearbooks.  These come in 2 parts, a standing part which repeats every year and shows the constitution and rules of the committee etc and an annual part which shows those matters which changed, such as the teachers at each school, the term dates, the members of the school governing bodies etc.  The Keep doesn’t have both parts for every year nor does it have every year but there are more than enough for the period  of the 1930’s/40s to get a good feel for the size, location & nature of the schools.

    By Geoff Robbins (04/05/2016)

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