The following is taken from the Holy Ghost Parish History

St Joseph’s School

In the late 1940’s, it was glaringly obvious that there was a need for a Catholic school in the town. The Mother General of the Irish Sisters of Charity sent Sister Teresa Carmel to Basingstoke with the authority to start a school. The school opened on January 10th 1951. On that day, Sister Carmel and Dominic waited for 15 pupils, all of them Catholics. The policy was first to accept all Catholic children, those who could pay as well as those who could not afford the fees. Eventually, the nuns also accepted non-Catholc children.

In addition, Sister Dominic and Sister Teresa Michael held daily R.E. classes for children in the state school system.

By Easter of the same year a second class was formed – incidentally – in the Presbytery, Sherborne Road. Later that year, Sister M. Marcellina and Sister Agnes Veronica formed the Community. As the number of pupils increased, Sister Carmel decided to build a new classroom between the South View Cemetery wall and the Presbytery kitchen. The cost was £353 and this could accommodate 36 children. Sister J. Paul and Sister Marie Madden taught the children in this classroom for two years.

Sister Carmel, who succeeded Sister Mary Raymond as Superior of the Community, set her sights on providing
education for the children until they were fifteen, but they needed adequate accommodation. In answer to the Community’s prayers, their problem of lack of space was solved when the property at Norn Hill came on the market. The house and land went up for auction and, there being no bidders, the nuns bought the property for £5,000.

A senior school was opened on 20th April 1953. This became known as “St Joseph’s School” and 95 pupils were transferred from the Presbytery property. The new premises lacked a hall for major events at the school. Mr Kewell, who was a newcomer to the town, organised a voluntary building group to build the much desired hall.

Many people were very generous with their talents and the following deserve special mention, Peter Smallbone, Mr Marriot, Bob Ashford, John Hickey, Bill Oliver, Don Foran, Gerry Mooney and Michael Nolan. The Hall was completed in 1953 at the cost of approximately £1,000. The hall was officially opened by the Mayoress on 10th January

In 1955, the whole school came together, ie the children in the Presbytery part of the school joined those at Norn Hill, a roll of approximately 150.

On 10th March 1957, Mother Celestine replaced Sister Carmel and Sister Ignatius was appointed Headmistress of the school.

To celebrate the centenary of Mother Mary Aikenhead, the foundress of the order, Fr Tony Birrer said Mass in the school hall. There followed a week of celebrations with school plays, mimes etc.

In 1964, the Sisters of Charity decided to leave Basingstoke. Fr Michael Nugent bought the property from them at a cost of £18,000. They served the Parish with dedicated service for thirty-seven years. They were replaced by the Ladies of Mary. These nuns continued to run the private school at Norn Hill but obviously with the idea of State Aided Catholic Schools in the offing the need for private Catholic education diminished as St Anne’s opened.

The Ladies of Mary did, however, get involved in St Anne’s and St Bede’s. In 1974, the Ladies of Mary decided to leave Basingstoke having given 10 years of dedicated service to education in the town.

The last to leave were Sisters Mary Bridget, Elizabeth and Celia. They were replaced by the Sisters of Providence on 8th September 1974. They came to Basingstoke from Alton. These were Sisters Madeline, Mary Patrick, Isabel and Alice. They came to Basingstoke in order to be more closely associated with the community. Sister Mary Patrick continued the long tradition of nuns being involved in Catholic education by becoming a teacher at St Bede’s school.

4 Responses to “ History ”

  1. The original school opened before the quoted 10th January 1951, as I have my school report for Christmas 1950, with the date of the next term commencing Monday 8th January 1951. Anyone on the group who was at the Sherborne Road Convent School?

  2. Hi Mike I have been looking into local history of the South View and Oakridge area and have been trying to establish if there were nuns in Sherborne Road so far with very little luck!! I know there were nuns at what was once a laundry for fallen women in the late 1880’s to early 1900’s (later became St Thomas School for the Deaf) was the Sherborne Road Convent School actually in Sherborne House? would love to know the location so if you remember wher in Sherborne Road and could let me know that would be great 🙂

  3. The convent school, for the age 11 and above, was adjacent to the convent, which itself was next door to the Holy Ghost Church. The school was a long building with one classroom. Sister Agnes was the teacher up to the closure of the school, she went to live at the mother house in Chester.

  4. It is with a heavy heart that I spread the news of the death of Sr Gabriel Dolores Cummins who died today in Kilkenny, Ireland. She was in charge of St Joseph’s, Norn Hill in the sixties. She loved talking about the children. She had an astonishing memory and could recall the names of the pupils in each class. Recently I helped her download some old photos from the Internet. There wasn’t one face that she had forgotten . Please spread the word RIP

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