OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
www.oldplymouth.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: July 24, 2017.
Webpage updated: July 24, 2017

        

EDUCATION IN OLD PLYMOUTH

SAINT BONIFACE ROMAN CATHOLIC COLLEGE FOR BOYS

The history of Saint Boniface Roman Catholic College for Boys goes back to 1851 when Bishop George Errington opened a small collegiate school in Wyndham Square, Plymouth.  It accepted both day and boarding pupils but closed again in 1855 when the Bishop left Plymouth.

Saint Boniface College in Wyndham Square, Plymouth.
 

There was then a gap until 1863 when a gentleman by the name of Mr Patrick Joseph Clarke opened a school in Melbourne Street, close to the Cathedral.  The running of this School was handed over to the Basilian Fathers in 1883 and the following year they opened a boarding school in a house called "Beaconfield" at Beacon Park which was known as the College of Mary Immaculate or sometimes as the College of the Immaculate Conception.  But Beacon Park was well outside the Borough in those days and the day pupils experienced a great deal of trouble trying to attend the School.     

A temporary solution was for two of the Fathers to journey daily in to the Catholic Institute in Grosvenor Place, which was run by Father Charles Langdon at the time.  But that was not as successful as expected so in 1886 Mr Clarke re-opened his old premises in Wyndham Square and this continued in operation until 1891.  The Basilian Fathers left Plymouth in 1900 and both schools closed.  

However, on September 25th 1900 Bishop William Vaughan opened a new school for day and boarding pupils in Wyndham Square.  This was the first to be named Saint Boniface College.  It was initially run by the secular clergy but was then operated by the de la Salle Brothers and the Brothers of Saint Gabriel and later still by the Presentation Brothers. 

Then on Friday July 13th 1906 the Ursuline Order of Nuns were given notice to quit their establishment in Brittany and in September 1906 nine of the Sisters sought sanctuary at "Beaconfield".  The Order was formed to promote the education of girls and they quickly set up lessons in French, which were attended by the ladies of the Town.  It was announced in February 1907 that when the full complement of nuns were in occupation they would extend their language lessons and start lessons in other 'accomplishments', as they called it.  There was accommodation for between 50 and 60 resident pupils at that time.

By 1911 the old mansion had become inadequate and a brand new extension was added.  When the Great War started the French parents stopped sending their daughters across the English Channel and the Sisters were forced to devote their attention to developing an English school.  Attendances quickly grew to around 200 girls.

The Ursuline Sisters decided to return to France and the School closed on Thursday December 18th 1930.  Six or seven of the Sisters remained until after Christmas. 

Finally, in 1931 the Irish Christian Brothers took over responsibility for the College and it was they who purchased from the Ursuline Sisters the site at Beacon Park that was to be its home for over thirty years.  The School opened at Beacon Park on Monday September 7th 1931.

During the Second World War the School was evacuated to Buckfast Abbey, at Buckfastleigh, Devon, from where it returned in 1945.

Saint Joseph's Home for the Elderly at Hartley was purchased from the Little Sisters of the Poor in 1975 and used as the boarding house for the College.

In 1981 Saint Boniface College merged with the Bishop Vaughan Secondary Modern School at Crownhill to form the Saint Boniface Roman Catholic College taking pupils from the age of 11 until 18.