St Joseph’s R.C. School

The school began its life in 1891, established by the sisters of La Retrait Convent.

A retrospective account by Ivor Punnett in the Burnham & Highbridge Weekly news in 1991 explains that when the sisters first arrived in Burnham in 1888 they seemed very mysterious to the local people. Children would climb the convent walls to try to see what they were doing. It was partly because of this that the day school was established as a link with and a benefit to the local community. It was not confined only to those of the Catholic Faith.

On opening the school had 37 pupils, from Burnham and neighbouring villages. The first headmistress was Mother Mary Monica. She was assisted by a pupil teacher and a monitor. The school had only one classroom, heated by a large stove. In the early days the teaching posts were always filled by sister from the convent.

The earliest school photo – 1922

Mrs Ena Loxston (then 85) recalled: “it was a very good school and I was there from the age of 5 to 14. The sisters were fine teachers and they certainly knew how to keep the children in order. I have very happy memories of my years there.”

Items from the history of the school collected by Mrs Susan Walton (then Deputy Head):

In 1915 a collection was held  for old boys at the front and raised £3. 15s, a respectable sum in those days. Of this 10s. was sent to france and the rest used to buy comforts for the 24 soldiers from the school.

In January 1938  several cases of Typhoid were reported in West Huntspill, necessitating the exclusion of one child from that area.

In November 1940 the log book reported that many children were very tired because of German bombers flying over Burnham

Miss Winifred Grimshaw and her class.

Please let us know in comments if you have any additional information about the school.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *