Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: April 17, 2021
Webpage updated: May 27, 2021

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Beaconfield House, the home of the Roman Catholic Convent of Saint Ursula.
From a postcard.

The Order of Ursuline Nuns was founded in France in the seventeenth century but was closed during the French Revolution.  It was re-formed again at the start of the nineteenth century at Quimperle in Britanny and continued to flourish until July 13th 1906 when they were given notice by the French Government to cease their work.  Although they continued to run a school at their establishment they at once started to look for a new home and found it at Beaconfield, a large house that had until then been used as a school for Catholic boys.  The Convent was opened in September 1906.

The Avenue at Saint Ursula's Roman Catholic Convent, Beaconfield.
From a postcard.

At once the nine Nuns who made up the first contingent commenced French classes for ladies of the Three Towns and when the remainder of the Nuns arrived from France they expected to start other classes.  They were also expecting to accommodate between 50 and 60 female students from France who wished to continue their studies with the Sisters.

French girls attending the Convent School of
Saint Ursula at Beaconfield, Plymouth , in 1909.
From a postcard.

It was not until five or six years later that English girls applied to join the School.  This was lucky because when the Great War broke out the French parents thought it unsafe to send their children across the English Channel and the pupils became entirely English.  Soon there were 200 pupils and the old mansion was found to be inadequate so a new extension was added with up-to-date class-rooms and dormitories.  During 1928 or 1929 a gymnasium was added and part of the extensive garden was laid out as a sports field.

On Tuesday December 16th 1930 at a meeting of the Old Girls Association presentations were made to the Mother Prioress and to Miss Carlyon, the head English mistress.  The following day the current pupils met to present gifts to the Mother Prioress and their teachers and on Wednesday December 18th 1930 the School broke up for the last time.  The Ursuline Sisters were returning home to France after 24 years.  Six or seven Sisters remained behind until after Christmas and then the premises were handed over to the Christian Brothers of Ireland for use as a boarding and secondary school for boys, the Saint Boniface's College, which was moving to Beaconfield from Wyndham Square.