Boarding Schools, Religion & Sunday

We know, from information provided by past pupils, which churches some of the boarding schools attended on Sundays.

St. Mark’s Little Common, held a 10 o’clock schools service in the 1940s attended by Portsdown Lodge, Seafield, Falconbury and Effingham House. We can imagine the crocodiles converging at the church and the blocks of colour from their uniforms dispelling the gloom of the church interior. The clergyman taking the services when the regular incumbent was on holiday was always more popular as he gave very short sermons.

We are told that in the 1930s Thornbank travelled in two coaches from Collington Avenue to St. Peter’s in the Old Town, where they sat in the left hand block with Ancaster House in the block next to them. It was considered too far for them to walk, but after morning service they would have a long walk to the seafront and back. Girls were allowed to miss this if taken out to lunch by their parents. The idea was to persuade them to take you to the Sackville which was the smartest hotel, giving you something to boast about afterwards. The dining room had a large bow window facing the sea which was the favourite place to sit.

On summer Sunday evenings the senior girls walked over the fields to All Saints, Sidley, which was very high church.

The curate from St. Peter’s came over once a week to instruct the senior girls before their confirmation and as he was quite attractive they all “got a bit fluttery”!

In the 1890s Holmwood from Hastings Road attended St. Peter’s, sitting behind the organist, sideways to the choir and congregation.

There is a photo of Our Ladye’s Convent in Buckhurst Road celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi on 11th June 1914 soon after the building of the new convent. Phyl Rapley from Sorrell Cottage (who died recently aged 90) remembers as a girl on the Feast of Corpus Christie looking through the convent gates and seeing the girls dressed in white. They processed to St. Mary Magdalene Church, strewing rose petals and following the Priest carrying the host.
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Other independent schools had their own chapels. The Beehive when in Dorset Road built their own chapel (see photo in the display) and after relocating at Broadoak had a chapel at Ellerslie.

Collington Rise built their own chapel in their playing fields in the 1920s when Peter Longley was their (see Bexhill Voices). It can still be seen in Birkdale – home to a nursery school.

Harewood also had their own chapel although an annual service was held at All Saints, Sidley, with the priest celebrating mass. Plainsong and Gregorian chant were sung as Victor Padgham, the music master, and Michael Phillips, the headmaster, were both very keen on early church music.

No doubt the other boarding schools would have attended church but we have no further information on this to date.

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