St Mary Magdalene Catholic Primary School

History of our School

In 1898 the Rosminian Sisters of Providence had opened the first Catholic school in Bexhill since the Reformation. At the same time it became clear that the first church, only five years old, would soon be too small for the growing numbers of the Catholic community in Bexhill.

In June 1898 the Bishop of Southwark approved the plans for a new and much larger church.

On January 13 1908 the first Mass was said in the crypt of the new church. On the same day the Rosminian sisters transferred the school from their temporary quarters in the choir gallery to the old church (now St. Mary Magdalene’s hall). The school, now renamed St. Mary Magdalene, was able to re-open in much improved surroundings.

Two years later, on 10th September 1910, the parish house diary recorded that ‘Our school has been approved by the Board of Education.’ Miss Mary Holtham was Headmistress, there were fifty children on the books and the age range was five to fourteen.

Entries in the school diaries show that these were less hurried times. The school would close on Holy days of Obligation, and children would be absent during the fruit-picking season. Sickness and bad weather often kept children away from school, and whenever the erratic heating system broke down the school would close.

In 1936 the school was extended in order to cope with 120 children. The situation became more difficult at the beginning of the second world war when children from a school in Blackheath were evacuated to Bexhill.

Then, in July 1940 when an invasion was thought to be imminent, the school was closed and evacuated to St. Francis Elementary School in Letchworth. It reopened at the beginning of 1942.

On 13th April 1961 St. Mary Magdalene’s Roman Catholic School was able to move into the east wing of Nazareth House, thanks to the kindness and support of the Nazareth House Community.

Father Peter Reynolds, the parish priest from 1991 – July 2000 (when the Rosminians gave the parish into the care of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton) and Fred Herring were the moving forces towards fundraising for a new purpose built new school and nursery. The land was made available by the Sisters of Nazareth. Pupils moved into the new school building in 2001 following a five day closure to facilitate the move.

The new school was officially opened in April 2001 by Monsignor John Hull when eight priests concelebrated Mass, one of whom was a former pupil who has entered the priesthood.

Thus we continue into the future with the education of our primary school children.