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The Story of Boscombe Convent School - 3

Projecting into the nave above the entrance door, and supported by two plain oak pillars, is the choir loft. The organ was purchased from the Jesuit fathers at Corpus Christi Church in 1933 and was rebuilt by Messrs. A. Smith and R. Foskett of Hampstead.

It had long been felt that the plastered walls of the sanctuary did not set off the altar to its fullest advantage; the need for a marble background was evident and a decision was made to begin this work in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee in 1938.

The School had opened with a community of seven sisters, but in 1911 the large number of English and Irish girls, many of them past pupils of the convent, who wished to join the order necessitated the building of a separate Novitiate House.

The years of the First World War were difficult. Belgian refugee children who sought shelter in this country were cared for by the sisters.

At this time the need for a day school became urgent and the sisters responded by opening a school in Knyveton Road. In 1921 the property opposite the convent was acquired and the day school moved to St. Joseph's.

New demands in education made it advisable in 1930 to amalgamate the boarding and day schools in order that the pupils might derive greater benefits from these improvements. The seniors remained in the convent building while St. Joseph's became the junior school.

In 1934 Kerryton, adjoining St. Joseph's, was opened as a Domestic Science School to provide further education for the senior girls when the ordinary school course had ended.

1938 marked the Golden Jubilee of the opening of the convent. On 1st June, Bishop Cotter opened the celebrations with Pontifical High Mass followed by Benediction. In the afternoon a pageant, The Cross Through The Ages', was presented and acclaimed for the high standard which was the hallmark of all the school's performances.

During the years of the Second World War the school remained untouched but in the Christmas holidays, 1945-1946, a fire broke out in the roof. No-one was injured, although some of the elderly, more infirm sisters were badly shaken.

The fire brigades arrived promptly and the fire was brought under control. Unfortunately, the water did a great deal of damage.

During those same holidays preparations were being carried out to make the necessary changes for the boys' school section of the building to be utilised by the increasingly large girls' school.

The Jesuits had opened St. Peter's School, at Southbourne, in 1936 so the need for catholic education for boys, with boarding facilities, was filled. The convent closed the boys' school except for the education of kindergarten day scholars.

Towards the end of the War, when Mother McEvoy was Headmistress and Mother d'Alangon Mistress of the Novices, the School was inspected by the Education Authorities and was recognised as an Efficient Educational Establishment.

In 1946 Reverend Mother M. Kelly retired because of ill-health. Reverend Mother Kelly had been the Superior at Boscombe from 1925-1946. She had been a pupil at the convent since September 1892 when she and her sister, later Mother Agnes Kelly, came as boarders from Ireland.

Reverend Mother Howe took over the responsibilities. Mother Howe had been in charge of the boys' school for nearly 25 years. Reverend Mother Kelly was permitted to remain at Boscombe. 1950 was her Golden Jubilee year.

She was well-loved; most of her years as pupil and sister had been spent at Boscombe. Large numbers of Past Pupils gathered to congratulate her on 31st May, still more wrote from all corners of the globe. A Jubilee Building Fund had been inaugurated by the Past Pupils and a cheque for 3,600 was presented to Reverend Mother Kelly on that day.

An Assembly Hall was a project very dear to her heart but because of post-war building restrictions the Jubilee Year came and went without planning permission having been granted, and the building, which was to have marked her Golden Jubilee, became her memorial as she died in April 1954.

On 29th June 1954, His Grace the Archbishop of Portsmouth blessed the site and laid the foundation stone of the hall. On 26th March 1955 the new hall was formally opened by Mr. Nigel Nicholson, M.P. for Bournemouth East.

The building itself is of red brick and white roughcast Tyrolean finish, in keeping with the senior school, formerly the novitiate, to which it is adjacent. It will seat 500, has a large stage with a green room behind, and underneath there is a cellar-basement.

There is a balcony over the entrance porch and a small organ to the left of the stage.
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