Catholic Secondary Teaching in Chelmsford - A Brief History of St John Payne School

St John Payne School began on this site in 1959 as a Secondary Modern with 346 students. The original building was just the Bosco Building which was opened and blessed by Bishop Patrick Wall. As numbers increased the Merici Building was opened in 1969 and finally in 1978, the Aquinas Building- formerly Chelmsford Technical High School – was opened to complete St John Payne School as we know it. The school’s Headteachers have been Mr Henry Butt, Mr Jack Brady, Mr Antony MacDonald, Mr Frank McEvoy, and Mr Antony Schular. Our current Headteacher Mr Thomas Coen was appointed September 2018.

The Building Names

The three buildings – formerly named Lower, Middle and Upper – are now named for three Saints of Education. The sixth building was opened in November 2017 and Blessed by the Rt Rev Bishop Alan Williams on the 4th October 2019

Bosco – named for St John Bosco: 1815-1888. Feast Day 31st January. Patron of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and juvenile delinquents. Before becoming a priest, John Bosco learnt Circus tricks and used the talents to draw crowds to then preach to. As a priest John Bosco worked with underprivileged boys to help get them jobs and education.

Merici – named for Angela Merici: 1474-1540. Feast Day: 27th January. Patron of the sick, disabled and physically challenged people and those grieving the loss of parent. Orphaned at 10 and then losing her sister shortly after, Angela had a vision that her sister was in Heaven. She joined an order and dedicated her life to teaching girls with no hope of education. Following another vision, Angela began a school, which then branched out into a neighbouring town. Although it was not formerly recognised in her lifetime, Angela had founded the Ursuline Order – The first Teaching Order of women in the Church. They were also the first order of women to work outside the convent.

Aquinas – Named for Thomas Aquinas: 1226-1274. Feast Day: 28th January. Patron of Students and Universities. Thomas Aquinas – born to a wealthy family, was inspired to join the Dominican order. His family were so against this that they actually kept him captive. However, Aquinas escaped and joined the Dominicans , where he studied and then became a teacher. Aquinas became an esteemed theologian (even Papal Theologian) and published many important books and writings which are studied today in schools.

St Anne Line Building-Named for Anne Line: 1567-1601. Feast Day: 27th February. English martyr from Dunmow, Essex. The daughter of William Heigham, she was disowned by him when she married a Catholic, Roger Line. Roger was imprisoned for being a Catholic and was exiled and died in 1594 in Flanders, Belgium. Anne stayed in England where she hid Catholic priests in a London safe house. In this endeavour she aided Jesuit Father John Gerard until her arrest. Anne was hanged in Tyburn on February 27, 1601. 

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