Alton School

History of the School

Our school was founded by the Sisters of Our Lady of Providence in 1938. It originally offered a co-educational environment but over time the Senior School became girls-only. Consistent with our school vision, we are looking to the future and from September 2018 have accepted boys, starting with Year 7 entry and Year 12 entry. This is simultaneously forward-looking and also a return to our roots.

History of the Congregation

Over 200 years of the congregation of the Sisters of our Lady of Providence

The Sisters of our Lady of Providence emerged from the chaos of the French Revolution, a time when the catholic faith in France had been challenged and tested, and many priests and nuns had been persecuted.

Our Lady of Providence is a title of Mary, Mother of Jesus. In theology, Divine Providence relates to God’s intervention in the world. For our congregation, it means revealing God’s love to each person in their daily lives and inspiring hope.

Established in Saintes, France in 1817 by three pioneering women, it wasn’t until 1827 that a Royal Decree of Charles X finally recognised the congregation as a ‘legal entity’.

The congregation began its global expansion in 1904 when it established its first community in Spain. It reached England (Alton) in 1938, Peru in 1963, Chad in 1968, India in 1978 and in 1991, Colombia. From its earliest conception, its focus has been education and care for the poor.

It was the tenacity of a mother that brought the congregation to England. A young woman, Beroe Plank, went to France and visited the the Sisters of Our Lady of Providence, and decided that she wanted to join the congregation. Her mother was not happy about her daughter remaining in France, and with great determination and resourcefulness, persuaded the Bishop of Portsmouth to permit them to establish a school here. His view was that there was much that could be done in the Alton area to provide a good Catholic education and set about finding them a property to establish a school. Beroe, later Sister Madeleine de Jesus, thus returned to England with some other sisters from France and our school was established. Indeed Sister Madeleine successfully ran our school until 1973.

Whilst they may not be active in teaching at the school these days, members of the congregation are our trustees, our spiritual guides and our connection to a powerful and inspiring history. The Sisters are always out and about around the school providing pastoral support and care.  They are great advocates for many of our school initiatives.