Annecy School

Annecy School today is a Catholic Primary School in Sutton Avenue. However in the past the School has provided education in Seaford from pre-school up to 16+. Its history in Seaford commenced when, in 1903, the French Government curtailed Catholic education and ordered that Nuns could not teach in state schools and those that taught in private schools shoud not wear religious dress. The Sisters of Providence in Rouen, rather than comply with the edict to wear secular dress decided, as did many other religious orders, to establish schools in Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and elsewhere. A small group of sisters came to Seaford, renting a house in Claremont Road asa base to find a suitable venue for a school in the area. Seaford had by this time already developed a number of independent schools, quite a local industry. At that time Archbishop Francis Bourne  owned a large house in Seaford which he used as a "holiday home" for the clerical students of the Doicese of Southwark and where he had build a chapel - the "Oratory of St. Francis of Sales, naming his house Annecy as St Francis was Bishop of Annecy in the 17th century.

 

  1913 Annecy Conventweb1

 

When Archbishop Bourne became Cardinal of Westminster, he relinquished the property, including the chapel, which was acquired by the Sisters, to become a school. Additional Sisters came over from France, and by 1911 , five classrooms, a dining room and dormitories had been established, adjoining the original Annecy building. The first pupils, all girls, some from France and others English, some 25 to 30 in all aged from 10 to perhaps 16 or 17.By the 1920s, the demand for places increased, and it was decided to accept day pupils as well, mainly local children who could not afford the fees paid for boarding. Hence St. Helena Day school for girls was established, in a newly built hall on land adjoining the Annecy to provide education to local children, with fees varied according to their parents' finances. 

During WW2 the school was temporarily relocated to Somerset, but returned later, but with fewer pupils. However the school pupil numbers increased and by 1950 classes were again full, boys having been admitted and additional premises were acquired, then known as Avenue Lodge, across the road. The school inspection in 1960 was recognised as "efficient" and its popularity continued to increase. In 1963 the school became a "voluntary aided" state primary school, for day pupils only as the Bishop of Southwark was concerned that the coastal area from Peacehaven to East Dean lacked a "free school" and catholic children whose parents could not afford independent school fees were sending their offspring to local non-Catholic schools.