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History of Broadoak
Broadoak is located along Upper Redlands Road, opposite the northern boundary of the University of Reading (Whiteknights Park).It is a large and stately detached Victorian residence of red brick and limestone situated at the end of a curved drive amid cedars. I am told that this house had been the family home of the Suttons (seeds) family- one of the 'three Bs' of Reading: "Beer, Biscuits and Bulbs. In 1911, the Suttons family donated money to help establish Wessex Hall of Residence situated along Whiteknights Road, leading on from Upper Redlands Road.
St.Joseph's Convent School (now St.Joseph's College) had formerly been on the Bath Road where it was founded in 1894 by the Sisters of St Marie Madeleine Postel. Then in 1909 it moved to the grand Victorian house known as Broadoak on Upper Redlands Road.
St. Joseph's is now co-educational.
The old house can still be seen behind the trees with the subsequent extension and school builidng attached to the right, but not impinging on the old house. The exterior of Broadoak is unspoilt and retains its elegant facade
English Heritage Listing
English Heritage rates Broad Oak House as a listed building as follows:
"Now incorporated in a Convent. Circa 1870-1890s. 2½ storeys, red brick with stone bands to plinth, ground floor lintel and 1st floor cill. Stone dressings and coped verges. Ball finials to kneelers. Asymetrical plan with 2 slight end gable breaks and a further gable to right. 5 bays in all : 2 storey bay
to left triple lancat and oculus-type stair window left of centre. Thicker panel of masonry for arched entrance (with "Broad Oak' inscribed in relief on lintel). 3 snail foiled lights over. 2 right hand windows have mullion and transom windows. Tiled roof with Joseph Morris-type dormers :- 2 gables
it triangular moulded verges and 2 lights. Interior: not outstanding. Tiled hall with staircase to left, unusual balustrade and pendants. Chimney pieces circa 1890 with pigeon-hole over mantels."
The College website descibes its histoiry as follows:
On the 28th. November 1756, a little French girl was born at Barfleur France, and baptised Julie Frances Catherine.She was educated at the Benedictine Convent at Valognes and when she eighteen the ran the little village school at Barfleur.
She was a pioneer in education, basing her teaching on the De La Salle method. In 1807, at Cherbourg, she and three other young women took religious vows before Abbe Cabart, who had encouraged her in her work - the beginning of the Sisters of the Christian Schools of Mercy. She was named superior and took the name Marie Madeleine. It was not until 1832 when she obtained the abbey of St. Sauveur le Vicomte that the congregation finally began to expand and flourish. She died on July 16 at St. Sauveur, venerated for her holiness and miracles, and was canonized in 1925. Her feast day is July 17.
St Joseph's Convent School was founded in 1910 by the Sisters of St Marie Madeleine Postel, whose aim was to provide a good education in a warm and loving atmosphere. This simple aim is as appropriate today for Catholic pupils and those of other denominations as it was when St Joseph's was founded over 100 years ago. St Joseph's Convent School became St Joseph's College in September 2010, with a change to co-educational status throughout the whole School.