History of the College

The school was founded in 1933 by the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, a Congregation of Roman Catholic Sisters. The order was founded in 1803 in Belgium by Canon Triest and developed international outposts through its missions.

In the UK the Sisters were already running schools in Devon and Lancashire when the availability of a site in Letchworth Garden City came to their attention. Sister Elizabeth, the founding Head of the College, was appointed General Directress in 1933. She had been educated in Belgium, France and England and after entering the order had spent time in the missions.

The Sisters acquired the leasehold, from the then Letchworth Corporation, of school premises that had been built for Theosophist students, known then as St Christopher School, but that had been vacant for a period. Consequently the Sisters took over a number of dilapidated buildings which had to be refurbished and dedicated the new school to St Francis de Sales.

The Sisters ran the school successfully for some fifty years, but decided to reduce their educational commitment in the UK. In 1983 the running of the College was transferred to an educational charity, St Francis College Trust, run by a Board of Governors. The College became multi-denominational, but continues to be run on Christian principles.

The College is accredited by the Independent Schools’ Council and is a member of various professional bodies:

  • The Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools
  • Girls’ Schools Association
  • Boarding Schools Association.

More information about the origins and history of the College may be obtained from the archive run by the College Librarian.