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St. Francis' College in the 1950s
The 1950s was a decade of celebration, expansion and change for St. Francis’ College. At the beginning of the decade several of the founding Sisters celebrated significant anniversaries. In 1950 Reverend Mother Elizabeth celebrated the Silver Jubilee of her religious profession. 17 of these 25 years had been spent as the Headmistress of the College. Sister Margaret, Sister Loyola, Sister Francis, Sister Acquin and Sister à Kempis also celebrated their Silver Jubilee in 1951. However, the most significant event of the decade was held in December 1952 when Sister Patrick celebrated her Golden Jubilee on December 8th -16th. At the age of 69 she celebrated 50 years as a Sister of Charity of Jesus and Mary. Pupils past and present and friends of Sister Patrick presented her with a statue of the Sacred Heart made out of Portland Stone. This statue still stands out in the school grounds near the tennis courts.
In 1954 the College celebrated its own 21st anniversary and there were about 450 pupils. Each pupil was given a stick of rock with the lettering St. Francis’ 21st. Facilities continued to expand and a new physics room was added, the art room was extended, kindergarten expanded, the loggia renovated, the gym re-floored and repainted and an additional kitchenette added to the domestic science rooms. In the early 1950s there was also an extension built to the Prep School. Our chapel organ was installed in September 1954 a year after the chapel and altar had been officially consecrated and dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity. By 1958 there were 650 pupils.
Pupils took part in a wide range of activities. Art Club was run by Sister John and Sister Fidelma. Girls were involved in producing scenery for school plays, and in 1952 a massive mural to show the missionary work of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary was made. In 1951 the SCJM Missionary Society was also founded by Sister John and girls would raise money for missionary work undertaken by the Sisters in Ceylon and Pakistan through the annual mission weekend. The Girl Guide and Brownie companies were very popular with fire lighting and cooking practices often held at Roxley Court. Pastimes included stamp collecting, marbles, conkers, skipping, square dancing and listening to the wireless. A camera club was set up in 1956 and the first television installed in the Senior Common Room on December 17th 1957. This was a gift by a former pupil. Music played a big part of school life with pupils being very successful in local music festivals. In 1956 clarinets and flutes were allowed into the school orchestra, and in October 1956 a new musical instrument, the guitar, was allowed into school.
1952 also saw some momentous national events. When George VI died at Sandringham a group of pupils went to Letchworth Station to pay their respects as his body passed through on the train to Westminster Hall. A telegram of sympathy was sent to Buckingham Palace and pupils listened to his funeral on the wireless. There were big celebrations for the Coronation of Elizabeth II. Letchworth Council gave all pupils a mug and some sweets. The actual coronation was a school holiday, but boarders watched the ceremony on TV. On June 10th the College organised a historical fancy dress parade on the playing fields. Each form paraded in turn in costumes which represented a period that had been studying in history. The overall prize was awarded to the Sixth Form who dressed as The Spirit of England.
Big changes also took place in this decade. On March 7th 1956 Sister Patrick died of a heart attack after a short illness. She was lovingly laid out in a special room and older girls were invited to pay their respects and say a prayer by the body. To the Sisters she was going to a far better place and it was a cause for celebration, not mourning. Her funeral was held on March 10th in the school chapel. Sister Patrick had worked as Deputy Headmistress since 1933 and had been a hugely influential, if strict member of staff. On October 20th 1956 Reverend Mother Elizabeth announced that she was leaving St. Francis’ College to take up administrative work in Ceylon. Pupils were stunned by her departure and a group of Boarders even gathered on the continental platform at Victoria Station to bid her farewell on November 3rd. The new Reverend Mother was Mother Andre and new Headmistress Sister Angela.
Gallery Photos
Aerial shot of St. Francis' College
Aerial shot of St. Francis' College
Ballet with Miss Rowley
Ballet with Miss Rowley
Chamber Ensemble 1959
Chamber Ensemble 1959
Choral Society
Choral Society
Form 4 1955
Form 4 1955
Form 5 1955
Form 5 1955
Hockey first eleven 1951
Hockey first eleven 1951
Hockey Team 1954
Hockey Team 1954
Junior Common Room - Boarders
Junior Common Room - Boarders
Kindergarten Nativity 1953
Kindergarten Nativity 1953
Music
Music
Nativity
Nativity
Nativity 1955
Nativity 1955
Needlework with Sister Margaret
Needlework with Sister Margaret
Needlework in the 1950s
Needlework in the 1950s
Novice in Chapel
Novice in Chapel
Passion Play 1954
Passion Play 1954
Prep Choir with Sister Eileen
Prep Choir with Sister Eileen
Prep 4 Easter 1951
Prep 4 Easter 1951
Prep School Nativity 1950
Prep School Nativity 1950
Prep School Play
Prep School Play
Prep School
Prep School
Pupils 1951
Pupils 1951
Revd Mother in Ceylon 1958
Revd Mother in Ceylon 1958
Revd Mother with Sisters who were former pupils
Revd Mother with Sisters who were former pupils
Revd Mother with young boarders
Revd Mother with young boarders
Science
Science
Science 1951
Science 1951
Senior Choir with Sister Eileen
Senior Choir with Sister Eileen
Senior Common Room 1958
Senior Common Room 1958
SFC Brownies late 1950s
SFC Brownies late 1950s
Senior Common Room
Senior Common Room
School Exterior
School Exterior
Sister Breda with Kindergarten children
Sister Breda with Kindergarten children
Sister Angela with sixth form prefects
Sister Angela with sixth form prefects
Sister Patrick 1952
Sister Patrick 1952
Sister Patrick
Sister Patrick
Sister Patrick's Golden Jubilee 1952
Sister Patrick's Golden Jubilee 1952
Sisters in Chapel
Sisters in Chapel
Sisters who had been at school from 1933-1954
Sisters who had been at school from 1933-1954
Sixth form 1954 with Sister Padraig
Sixth form 1954 with Sister Padraig
Sports Day 1954
Sports Day 1954
Statue to Sacred Heart given to Sister Patrick on her the golden anniversary of her profession in 19
Statue to Sacred Heart given to Sister Patrick on her the golden anniversary of her profession in 19
Boarders room
Boarders room
Study room for boarders
Study room for boarders
Tennis
Tennis
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