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The Story of Boscombe Convent School - 1

Convent of the Religious of the Cross     BOSCOMBE, HANTS

Under the Patronage of His Lordship the Bishop of Portsmouth

Boarding and Day School for Girls, Preparatory School for Boys.

The ordinary School Course may include any of the following subjects-

Religious Knowledge, English Language and Literature, Science, Mathematics, Modern and Classical Languages, History, Geography, Drawing, Choral Singing, Theory, of Music, Needlework, Physical Culture.

The Advanced Course includes Preparation for University Careers and External Degrees of the University of London.

A Domestic Science Course is arranged for girls above 17 years of age.

Entire charge taken of pupils whose parents reside abroad.

Sea-bathing, Swimming, Gymnastics, Games, under the supervision of a fully-qualified Resident Mistress.

For particulars, apply to the Reverend Mother Superior.


1888 - 1980

DURING THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR of 1870 the Superior General of the Religious of the Cross, Reverend Mother Got, thought that it would be wise to open a house in England, where the sisters could find refuge if necessary. With this end in view, on 5th September, the day after the Proclamation of the French Republic, four sisters were sent from St. Quentin, France, to London.

They were hospitably received at the Convent of Mercy, Blandford Square, S.W., and in the following month were joined by four more of their sisters. In November of the same year the Reverend Mother General herself came over to London and was received kindly by Archbishop Manning.

After seeking reliable advice it was finally decided to settle in Bournemouth. Lady Georgiana Fullerton was among the friends who took a great interest in the proposal.

On 13th April 1871, the sisters took possession of a house in Branksome Wood Road and on 15th April a School, for boarders and a few day scholars, was opened.

Among the earliest small pupils at the Convent of the Cross, Bournemouth were Alphonso and Raphael Merry del Val who at that time were staying with their grandfather, Count de la Torrie Diaz. The younger of these boys, Raphael, later became a cardinal and Secretary of State to Pope Pius X.

In January 1880 the Sisters of the Religious of the Cross took over the teaching at St. Walburga's School, which was then situated in Avenue Road, Bournemouth.

Mother Biggin was in charge and Mother Hustler assisted her. In January 1885, St. Walburga's School moved to Yelverton House in Yelverton Road, behind the present showroom of the Southern Electricity Board.

The convent in Branksome Wood Road was taken over by the Sisters of Mercy from London on 27th August 1887 and they re-established St. Joseph's Home for Invalids there. The original Home at the junction of Lansdowne and Madeira Roads had languished after the death of Lady Georgiana Fullerton in 1885.

The Religious of the Cross had decided to build a convent better suited to the requirements of a growing school and in 1887 land was purchased in Boscombe on the Portman Estate in an ideal situation, pleasantly wooded, secluded and close to the sea. During building operations the sisters took up residence, with their pupils, in a large house, since demolished, at the junction of Parkwood and Darracott Roads, Boscombe.

In 1887 the Reverend Dr. Vertue, Bishop of the Diocese of Portsmouth, presented the sisters with a small iron chapel which was erected in the newly purchased convent grounds, where the entrance drive on the western side is now. The chapel was formally blessed and opened on New Year's Day 1888 and it was used as the parish church until the opening of Corpus Christi in 1896.

The Foundation Stone of the new convent was laid on 6th September 1888 and Father Kerr, S.J., spoke of the tremendous work to be accomplished by the small group of sisters.

The architect was J.J. Carew Esq. of London and the first section to be built was the western wing up to, but not including, the main entrance. The builders were Messrs. Hoare of Bournemouth. The materials used were an outside facing of Purbeck stone with Chilmark and Wardour stone dressing; bricks were used for the interior. Each final gable is surmounted by a stone cross.

In September 1889 classes commenced in the new building. Reverend Mother Poulin was the superior who brought the little community from Bournemouth to Boscombe. For many years, Mother Louise Poulin's initials could still be seen carved on one of the stones of the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the grounds.

Mother Poulin and Mother Bower also built the large Calvary and planted the 200 ferns there, brought from their old garden in Bournemouth for that purpose.
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