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Hi All,

Welcome to the St Michael’s College, Hitchin website.

St Michael’s College was a Catholic school for boys, which was administered by priests from two religious orders; the Edmundians from 1903 to 1925 and from 1925 to 1968 by the Assumptionists. The school in Hitchin closed in 1968, and moved to Stevenage.

The school was located in Grove Road on the site that is now occupied by the police station. It was founded by a Fr. Prevel from the Society of St Edmund in 1903. His order was persecuted in France and decided to settle in Hitchin. The Edmundian Society employed four priests to instruct five pupils after buying a house on the site and St Michael’s School (later renamed College) was completed in 1906, with a new wing then built in 1919. But by 1925 the Edmundian Fathers found themselves in dire financial straits caused in no small part by their ambitious plans.

Priests from the Order of Augustinians of the Assumption gained control of the college and the parish church, and this also marked the end of the Edmundian Fathers in the UK. The priests wore long black habits, and around their waists they wore a leather belt which fell almost to their feet – which was a convenient means of applying discipline to pupils when the priest felt it was needed.  In the inter-war years, the school gained popularity among the increasing number of Catholics in the area and the school housed a number of boarding pupils. Days were long – 7am starts, and 9pm evening prayers were a must, before bed at 9.15pm – yet the school was a victim of its own success. As the number of pupils requiring catholic grammar school education continued to rise after the Second World War, new premises were needed. Due to space constraints expanding on the Grove Road site was not an option. However, the growth of Stevenage new town during the 1960s led to the school being relocated there experiencing a subsequent amalgamation with St Angela’s School for Girls to become the John Henry Newman School of today.

This site contains the material from the original fsnet site (now closed) run by Colin O’Leary (SMC 1950 – 57) until his death in 2002, then by Simon Curtis (SMC 1967 – 1972), together with pictures from Friends Reunited (also now closed) and a huge amount of archive material collected by Michael (Chas) McCartney and others of the Old Michaelean Association. In particular, historical whole school panoramics and the Michaelean magazines have been scanned in and are available on this site.

For those interested in the stats, this site is 2.9 GB in size, has 127 pages, and contains 885 pictures and documents (PDFs). In addition, there is a blog with the latest updates – see Archives at the top right on each page.

This site also allows for comments to be made, and any suggestions will be gratefully received. Also, there are gaps in the panoramics and Michaelean magazines. I would be grateful to receive any of these or any other relevant material to put on the site.

22 Responses to About

  1. Stefan – Thanks for letting me know about this new site. Certainly nice to know that St Michael’s now has an active website. Read through 1 or 2 college magazines, and which brought back memories!
    Terry Simpson

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Way to go Stefan! Your email (both of them) went into my spam/trash folder. I thought it might have been a sophisticated phishing email. Glad I clicked…


  3. Tony Stansfield says:

    Great stuff, Stefan. I was beginning to think that was that as far as the old school went. Can’t wait to have a nose around the site.


  4. John Zazzera says:

    Very interesting to read about st. Michael”college. I was there from 1940 to 1947 and was fortunate enough to be be school captain in my final year. I was a member of Fisher house and thoroughly enjoyed captaining the college”s 1st eleven at both cricket and soccer. Which were your years at St. Michael’s? Regards, John Zazzera.


  5. Barry Peter Capon says:

    I was a pupil at St Michaels from 1941 to 1948. I played for the cricket and soccer teams, played tennis and like everyone else who was a boarder I boxed. However I was not a catholic but I was treated as if I was, having to attend all church and chapel services and religious instruction. I knew Peter Wolf and remember his death quite clearly, it was at the time a tragedy that probably would not have happened nowadays, with the advance of medical knowledge. I am now 85 years old and live on the Mosel in Germany with my second wife who is German. I still play golf and am a member of the local shooting club, shades of the my army days!!! I play piano and write music for my own amusement and generally mix with the local community. I wish all old Michaelians a happy christmas and a prosperous new year. Barry Capon.


  6. William Wallace says:

    It was not the end of the Edmundian Order in England In fact they regrouped at St. Edmunds Ware.


    • Stefan says:

      Hi William, I believe the Edmundians are not connected to the school in Ware, so I think the original statement that the Edmundians left the UK is correct. Unless anyone knows otherwise!


  7. As someone whose grandfather and great uncle were in the first five boys at the school (I was there from 1952 to 1959) I can only say what a great job you’ve done here, Stefan.


    • Peter Bissonnette says:

      Tony, I was at Saint Michael’s from 1954 through to 1958. I was a boarder and was from Canada. Do you remember me. Mr Divine was my teacher. Michael Teear was in my class. Peter Bissonnette


      • Tony Stansfield says:

        Hi Peter. I left St. Micks in 1959 after a year in the 6th Form. I was 16 years old. I don’t know how that fits for you. When the preparatory part of the school was built I transferred to St. Micks in 1951 or 1952 from St Francis College in Letchworth, which till then took boys of preparatory age. I have to say that your name doesn’t ring a bell, but that may be because you were a year or so below or above me. Some of the names in my class were John Fedigan, Michael Kitchen (became school captain), Dave Hassett, Mike Macnamara, Ian Gavin, Mark Gibbling, Pete Taylor and Eddy Morris (plus several others).. Do any of them ring a bell? I’m now living in a farmhouse in Normandy, but if ever a reunion was organised I’d be over like a shot!! I still have several children living in and around Hitchin. Let me know if what I’ve said rings any bells. Regards . . . . Tony


      • Michael Teear says:

        Thank you for remembering me Peter. I do remember you too. I was a border from 1954 to 1963. I emigrated to Australia in 1973 one of the last 10 pound Poms. Over 9 years there is much to remember. I love reading the comments. There was a scouts group located in the prep school hut but sadly closed down as I was about to join. The army cadets also closed down as I was about to join. I think there was only about 6 boarders when I left. I used to cycle home at week ends (about 25 miles) as there was not much happening at the school at weekends with no boarders around. I remember Clive Chappel cycled to Reading at weekends. Keep up the great work Stefan


      • Barry Wells says:

        Barry Wells
        I was a boarder from 1956 to ‘58 when I was moved to a school in Sandwich. I remember Mr Brosche the French master and his observation that “ . . there was nothing so fine as a woman’s arse”. Fr Peter was Prefect of Discipline – I had the bruises to prove it. But he was a good guy. Fr Ignatious taught something, but I remember him for trying to turn an ancient Austin 7 into a gang mower.
        I live in N Queensland now


      • Patrick Renihan says:

        Hi Peter
        I read your message in the St Michael’s report with interest, and I remember you from my years at the prep school. My teachers were Ms. Smith, Mr. Divine and Fr. Ignatius. My brother Fred and I emigrated as teachers to Canada in 1969. We currently live in Vancouver and Saskatoon respectively. Best, Pat Renihan


  8. Stefan says:

    Many thanks Tony – your comment is much appreciated


  9. caroline Bayford says:

    My father Gerald Bayford went here from 1941 to 1946 he has many memories of his time spent at St michael’s and says hello to John John zazzera he is now 86 and living the high life in spain and thanks Zazzera for the broken nose as it got me out of a lot of problems in my life. I would like to make contact if


  10. Hi Stefan you have made my father’s day Gerald Bayford when I showed him your site he would love to share some memories if you so wish


  11. Anyone know what happened to Di angelo thanks


  12. Tony Stansfield says:

    Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but my grandfather Reginald Godfrey and his brother Edward were two of the first 5 boys at the school. My grandfather died in the influenza epidemic after the First World War. I was at the school from 1952 to 1959 in the tender care of Fr. Roger Killeen.


  13. MichaelHilderbrand says:

    What an absolute joy to speak with you Stefan. You asked me to recollect some of my memories at school, so here goes.

    My name is Michael Hilderbrand known to some as “brittle bones. I was a full time boarder from 1956-1961.

    Roger Killeen who put fear into most of us by his sheer presence, we as boarders were very aware of this especially after lights out in the main dormitory. One particular night a certain John Hucklesby decided to catch up on some late prep in the toilet, on his way back to bed a bit of horseplay developed and it got a bit rowdy. Killeen’s study was below us slightly towards the end of the building, he obviously heard the commotion and decided to investigate. Our lookout who was positioned to his nearest point of entry alerted us to “shut up, Killeen’s on his way”. A silence fell upon the dormitory and all were quiet and feigned sleep. He proceeded to walk up and down between the ranks of beds and finally came to standstill beside Hucklesby’s bed, looked down at him and said, “are you asleep Hucklesby?” to which the idiot replied , “yes father”. He received his fate the next day.

    On another occasion Killeen had set us some history homework, our task was to memorise the poem The charge of the light brigade. I believe this contained about twelve verses. In our form we were quite an unruly lot, none worse than a fellow scholar called John Platt whose reputation for doing homework was very poor. Our next lesson duly arrived the following week when Killeen advised us he would select one of us to recite said poem. At this point I wanted to die, as I had completely forgotten about it, Here I give thanks to God for he must have answered my prayer that I was not selected for this awesome task. My good fortune came in the shape of John Platt who gave a faultless recitation of said poem. I think it must be a school record because in the history of St. Michael’s no one ever received 5 house points from Roger Killeen.

    At my first term as a boarder, we had some good senior prefects and some not so nice. At this time “Fagging” was still a ritual which was employed by the prefects. I was duly appointed to be Fag to a prefect named Michael O’Mahoney who was not one of the nice ones. I was summoned to the prefects room, knocking and entering into a cloud of cigarette smoke to have wet sodden and caked with mud football boots and shoes thrown at me with the instruction to clean them spotlessly. As I was now his appointed fag for the term. In addition I was also to do his washing up rota for the term. (A Rosta for washing up all boarders plates etc was issued each term). For this at the end of term I would receive 6d. The cleaning of the shoes was the hardest part as inevitably they were always we. To perform this task we (the fagees) cleaned them wet and left them to roast on the hot water pipes behind our beds, which was fine but it had a bad effect on the shoes in that they dried in a curled form and had long white stain marks running through them. This was solved by stuffing old newspapers in them and applying large amounts of cherry blossom. I became quite an expert by the end of term. Approaching O’Mahoney for payment at the end of term ended up me searching amongst the nettles for my hard-earned sixpence, because that’s where he tossed it. Nice chap!

    There are many more stories I can relate. Maybe if we have a reunion which I would like to attend, we can all swap stories.
    I notice one of the contributors is Terry Simpson. Are you the one from Hatfield, good pals with Tony Mileham? You also played the trumpet rather well if I am correct.

    That’s it for now. Regards to all that know me.



  14. Paul Bissonnette (Bissonnette I) says:

    I’m the older brother of Peter Bissonnette above, Paul Bissonnette. We were there from 1955 until the end of 1957, when we returned to Canada. I remember Mr. Divine from Prep 2, who sometimes used to interrupt class by telling long episodic stories whic I late came to realize were classics from Shakespeare and so on. I also remember Fr. Ignatius and Fr. Peter, along with Fr. Roger the Headmaster, who we found to be quite terrifying, to tell the truth.

    I have been living in Japan since 1975.


  15. Frank Hancock says:

    Frank Hancock here, `61 to `66. Used to arrive daily from Bedford with eight other lads monitored by two Six Formers (eek). Loved French (thanks `Bugs`) enjoyed Latin (ta Ricket, oops sorry Headmaster) and learnt to hate teamwork (sorry Laing). Took up Judo instead. Went to Cardiff for four years and finally escaped to France (ever seen `Escape to the chateau?`), well my Company owned one and we had a `blast`. Learnt a lot from Fr Lemmon (music theory) and used it for drumming (studio session work). My Mum was a singer, so it and I came in handy when she recorded (Yea….I did get paid). Had a good time in school; actually came across a Bibbings in Manchester once; probably Michael`s (61 to 66) son, another solicitor. Hey ho, lads.


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