My name is Seán Michael Lea – I was a Border at SJC Oakhill – then at Birkfield from 1975 to 1980. I left at the end of the 5th Year – and went to my local Grammar School then onto Surrey University.Most of my career was in Retail Leisure and Hotel Management. I retired in 2021.

I’ve got to say Pat that during my years at SJC I never experienced any abuse or ill treatment from any of the Brothers. I was also never aware of any of the guys in my year being subject of any form of sexual abuse. There was also to my knowledge no innuendo of any form of sexual abuse by either the Brothers or Lay Teachers.

Maybe my circumstances were somewhat different from the average pupil at SJC. I was the College Head Sacristan and Master of Ceremonies. I served Morning Mass every day and as therefore got certain extra privileges eg on Liturgical Feast Days eating with the Brothers in their Ref etc. I was also President of the SJC Railway Society and the Brothers in particular Bro Damian (Director) allowed me to organise regular weekend trips to eg National Railway Museum York or Bressingham etc. Also at the time I intended to become a Jesuit Priest so maybe that protected me from abuse.

As I had a lot of day to day contact with the DLS Community in Ipswich I thought it would be helpful to supply you with a full list of names and dates that the various Brothers were at Ipswich from 1974 to 1980.

Oak Hill 1974 – 1980

Headmaster Bro Mark. After Oak Hill Closed Mark went on to teach at the DLS University in Bethlehem. He later returned to the UK to join the DLS Community in Bournemouth. I visited him several times between 2003-04 when I was General Manager of The Carlton Hotel in Bournemouth.

The House Masters were Bro Bede & Bro Charles. I know that Bro Bede later went onto work at St William’s Reform School at Market Weighton East Yorkshire which closed in March 1994. I believe that Bro Bede left the DLS Order around that time.

Also in residence at Oakhill was Bro Osmund. He was Retired and had no Teaching or House Master Duties.

Birkfield 1975 to 1980

Headmaster Bro Lawrence Anthony aka Squealer taught several subjects including History & RE He left Ipswich in 1978. He had replaced Bro Edwin Gerald (who had left the Ipswich Community in 1974 but was the Chair of Governors so regular returned for meetings) Bro Lawrence Anthony was replaced in 1978 by Bro Damian who had previously been at Beulah Hill.

Bro Owen 1st Year House Master still at SJC in the mid 1980’s

Bro Benet 2nd Year House Master until 1978 but remained in Ipswich. He later went onto become Bro Provincial at the Provincialate at Half Moon Lane Herne Hill London. He assisted Mr Michael Thuell aka WallEye who was the 3rd Year House Master during my entire time at Birkfield. Mr Thuell taught History and British Constitution. As of 1978 Bro Benet was replaced as 2nd Year House Master by Bro Laurence Hughes who joined the Ipswich Community in 1978. Bro Laurence Hughes later become Bro Visitor of the DLS Order in Great Britain.

Bro Paul RE Teacher – he assisted Bro Owen and took us on numerous weekend camping trips around Dunwich etc. He left the Ipswich Community in 1978. In the mid 90’s he left the DLS Order and went to work in Peru and was tragically murdered there in 2019.

Bro Aidan taught French and lived in the cottage by the tennis courts with Bro Cuthman. Aidan didn’t have any House Master Duties.

Bro Cuthman aka Fluff taught Classics and Latin. He didn’t have any House Master Duties whilst I was at Birkfield.

Bro Ives – 6th Form House Master left Ipswich in 1977. He was assisted by Mr Rose who taught History.

Bro Laurence Treanor aka Lispboo (due to his lisp) joined the Ipswich Community in 1978 and was the House Master at Goldrood as of 1979.

Brother Richard Allen aka Egg Head a previous Assistant General of the DLS Order based at The Generalate in Rome. Richard arrived at Ipswich in late 1977. He was House Master at Goldrood (4th and 5th Years) in 1977 but was only in post until 1979. He remained at the Ipswich Community for a few years. I met him several times in the late 80’s whilst on visits to Rome. He had returned to work at The Generalate.

Bro Terence – taught various Science subjects – he had no House Master Duties and lived alone in The Lodge at the entrance to SJC off Belstead Road. He was the College Rev Bro Sacristan with myself as Head Sacristan and MC.

Bro Lawrence taught several subjects including English & RE he didn’t have any House Master Duties. He left SJC Ipswich in 1978 when Bro Laurence Hughes arrived.

There were several Brothers at SJC called Lawrence and Laurence.   So there were 3 in total during my era

Bro Lawrence Anthony – Bro Laurence Hughes and Bro Lawrence Treanor.

Bro Peter was Deputy Head and Sub Director of the Community and lived in the House by the entrance by the Art Block / TD & Woodwork. He later joined the Community at St Peter’s Bournemouth. I attended his Funeral in Bournemouth in 2004.

Regarding their various ages – the only ones I’d assume could still be alive in addition to Bro Laurence Hughes would be Bro Aidan Bro Owen Bro Charles Bro Lawrence Francis and possibly Bro Bede.

I do know that Bro Benet died of cancer in April 2009.


  1. Pat
    Thats such a sad reply – I do not doubt your word or harm you suffered for one moment and have no truck with abusers from any walk of life – the damage they do is life sentence for the abused
    I lived at Flint Cottage by the then Farm and had roamed the school at will and can only relate mine and my families association with the school and brothers
    Yes my elder brothers refer only to Solomon and recall Elwin Gerard had outed and defrocked plus one or two upper VI had given him fair warning
    I too moved to a council estate Maiden hall and remained friends with Mckee from Violet Close Chantry and Mick Simmonds also Maidenhall
    We were street wise kids and had to be going Jo’s from Tower Ramparts territory!

    I can only relate mine , my family and peers experiance of the school

    I also was an Altar Boy at St Pancs
    Cannon Thompson and Father Laing ( who left to marry ) then Father “ Sam “ Leeder
    I ceased my religion but remained contact with Father Leeder – who never gave any suspicion that he was not a good man – ever

    As I said your experience is appalling and I cannot begin to feel your pain – but I can only tell you that mine and my families memories are not the same as yours at school or St Pancs.

    • Thanks, Pete. I remember Maidenhall estate and I can imagine Tower Ramparts kids being a problem. They were VERY scary! Chantry Estate was okay and I only got a little teasing from most kids for going to St Joseph’s. We switched from St Pancras to St Marks when we moved to Chantry estate. In fact, St Marks was worse in many respects because St J’s school chaplain Father Jolly (son of the founder of the Ipswich province of the Knights of St Columba) was a sexual abuser and he was not alone. St Pancras was bad in the 1950s because of Canon Burrows (a Knight) and Father Wace (probably a Knight) but it’s good to know they were probably the only two clerical abusers. The congregation is another story. I always liked the classic vibe in St Pancras, much better than the brutal architecture of St Marks. My mother was a devout Irish Catholic widow with mental health problems. In the 1950s that meant her children were, automatically, a prime target for predators. Sexual abusers pass information on likely targets – e.g. no big hulking dad to beat them up! That seems to be how it works. So the other children I’m aware of (like I say 10% approx) would have some similar vulnerable aspects predators would go for. Thus they might come from a dysfunctional background or ‘broken’ home. So if they complained, it’s likely no one would believe them. Later, if they turn to drugs or alcohol, and then complain that is held against them. E.G. ‘He’s on drugs, so we can’t believe his story’. As this doesn’t apply to me, I’m very well placed – and feel it is my duty – to expose the full range of Catholic child abuse. It’s quite satisfying, so it’s not all bad! Thanks again for your kind words.

      • What years were you at St Jo’s
        We lived in Flint Cottages and it would have been Priests yellow house the other side of the orchard
        Mike and Dave Ryland were there late 50s with BAM as Bother Director
        I went up from Oak Hill 1963/4 when Elwin Gerard took his second spell as Director I guess his legacy was the Chapel laid out following Vatican 2 huge changes to the Mass
        He stopped all corporal punishment but as you said hard nosed sods like we not have been picked on
        I just remember Solomon as a child roaming free around the grounds and part of me recalls my Mum ( Matron ) having a real dislike of him
        My late Dad (Chef ) could not stand any of the Brothers!
        I recall James who was my Maths teacher in year one – very limited contact
        I was not a good student and rebel saving grace I loved Rugby ( still do) but Bros Gregory and Terrance were good teachers
        I understand that Mike Kearney Chemistry came under suspicion and that shocked me as I never saw that side
        I used to join him for a pint much later in my 30s on the odd occasion we crossed paths in a town centre pub
        Mr Moss was my English Master i do hope he had no hidden past – he gave me a love of English which was my only real love of school
        Jolley i only just recall but had no contact with at all
        It is shocking to see the damage and how it sours the memory now of my good recollections
        Saville shows I guess how foul deeds can be hidden in plain sight
        Keep me posted – I need to know the truth

      • Thanks for your open-minded response, Pete. I feel a bit bad ‘raining on your parade’! I was there 1960 to 1964. I can;t place Flint Cottages. Father Jolly had a cottage on the edge of the school, the physics lab end. There was an orchard attached. I left before the chapel which went up in 65, maybe. You’ll doubtless know the story of the pupil who attached his girlfriends knickers to the roof. The Old Boy in question described to me in great detail how he did it. I was convinced! Brother James was a sexual abuser (3 accounts) but he was also a great maths teacher which – for a thick kid like me – was invaluable. If he’d taught me maths every year, it would have really helped me. Brother Solomon is curious because he was at Birkfield in the late 1950s and is on record as having gone to Oakhill where he abused kids with the notorious Joe Homan (Boys Town). However, he was kicked out of Birkfield at the end of 1960 for drunken behaviour. And probably abuse. He spent a brief period in Jersey – where the brothers went if there was a scandal, so they could escape to France. Then he went to Beulah Hill, maybe 61 or 62. However, it’s quite possible he visited Birkfield in your era and that’s why you recall him roaming around! In my era, Graham Bacon’s mum was matron. Your mum must have replaced her. Both Kearney and Moss had lives outside St J’s which were questionable. Kearney’s violence and possible racism (disputed by a white pupil) is on record, but my concern with him was more serious. I think I spent at least six months in weekly therapy sessions getting him out of my system. That must count for something. I recall Kearney as a lone drinker in pubs. One of those guys who prop up the bar and quietly drink away their sorrows. Leaving aside the other side to Moss, most pupils would agree with you that he was a truly brilliant English teacher. I would disagree and I say that as someone who got several English prizes from him and have made a successful living as a writer. So it’s not sour grapes. It may be that the other side to Moss affected me. He could be very manipulative in class as well as outside. Similarly, I was top in History but I thought Mr George, the history teacher, was absolutely useless. (Maybe after your time). The fact that I rate two abusers, Solomon as a music teacher and James as a maths teacher is odd and a bit worrying! Those two aside, I think the rest of the school – for me – was largely about image and faux public school. Educationally, I think I’d have been better off at Chantry Secondary Modern. And certainly safer. But I know most pupils, like yourself, had a different and positive experience and I am genuinely pleased for you. The abusers can’t take away from any of your good memories

      • If you walked across the orchard past the bee hives there was a cottage 


        div>We lived No 2 and Mr Fares lived

      • I left in 61 and Solomon was still there. I dont know when he was kicked out but as I said I was surprised to find him there as a lay teacher in about 1980. As I said I never heard of or saw any abuse. We all got a clout now and then and the cane was used by all teachers and brothers. Overall i had a fairly good time there and received a pretty good education

      • Good evening from Bournemouth where the Brothers also had a school, which they were given by the Jesuits. In 1978 the Brothers gave the school to the Diocese and the Local Authority. I left Beulah Hill in 1973 and did well.
        I wonder whether the public authorities would have built, funded and maintained schools which would have been needed in the event of Religious Orders not being there post 1945.
        Sometimes I think, given the immense suffering endured by the nuns and the brothers due to the solitude of celibacy; carping from ex pupils as well as the genuine evils committed by some nuns and brothers; that the Orders should not have bothered.
        Little thanks has been expressed.

      • Thanks, Chris. I didn’t know about the finances at Bournemouth, but three different people have commented to me and been puzzled by the complexity and dubious nature of the financial structure of the De La Salles at St J’s Ipswich and its mortgage transfer to its current owners. That’s leaving aside the rather curious acknowledgement – in thee 1940s – that it was the Knights of St Columba who seemed to have made St J’s happen, but have always been noticeably coy on just how they did it. One source was a lawyer, another a reporter who tried and failed to do a ‘deep dive’ into its confusing financial structure and the third was an Old Boy who pointed out to me how the DLS charitable status could be manipulated to their considerable financial advantage. (The Benedictines I know do it with their lethal and violence inducing tonic wine )All way above my pay grade. I guess they could all be wrong and the De La Salles wrongly maligned, but – given their wretched behaviour elsewhere which I’ve detailed in the past – that seems unlikely. I don’t think ex-pupils on this site, including myself, are carping. Or elsewhere AFAIK. Rather, we’re trying to expose criminals who have seriously harmed children, and one of the DLS brothers is still alive. Based on what I’ve discovered about them, including their criminal behaviour in approved schools,in the news a year ago, I don’t think the order deserves any thanks for their post war establishments (or pre-war, too). On the contrary. Their leaders were financial opportunists who perhaps manipulated and exploited members of their order as much as they did the children who were unfortunate enough to fall into their clutches.

      • Thanks, Paul. It must have been 61 when he left because I definitely only remember him for one year. I recall Brother James writing a glittering commentary for Solomon in the school magazine and thinking how phoney it was at the time. Because I knew – from personal experience – what Solomon was really like and I’m sure James did. They were kindred spirits after all.

  2. I remember brother Ives very well, my housemaster at St. Peter’s Bournemouth I have the thirty page book about his life written By bro anton de roper I can send. A copy of any interest he was the Brothers answer to Rambo himself a war casualty that today would be unfit to teach

    Sent from Outlook for iOS ________________________________

  3. I was at Oakhill from 53 to 56 and then at Birkfield Ipswich until 60. We all were a bit wary of Bro Solomon as he had a short fuse and liked to use the cane but apart from that neither me on the classmates I am in contact with had any really bad times with any of the brothers. We all suffered the odd caning or thick ear but that was normal for the times.The brothers I remember from Oakhill are Bros Robert, Austin, Francis,
    Patrick, George, Didimus (Diddy), Lionel , Dennis Robert (Nobby), James who later moved to Birkfield, Dennis Victor(head) and Celsus who took over being head. Birkfield were bros Osmand, Wilfred, Damian,Kevin, Charles, Paul, Ives James, Ives Patrick(one eye), Lawrence (lispy), Peter, Elred, Ralph Sherwin, Joseph, Elwin (head) and Alan Maurice (BAM) who took over being head.
    We have heard on other post about Bros Kevin and James and their wrong doings but as I said we did not suffer from them. In fact the person who was most fond of the cane was a lay teacher Kevin Tracey, who after he left SJC served time for kidnapping a boy from the school he went to.I would like to hear if anyone had any bad times with any of the above

    • My bothers ( Mike and David ) in 50s
      Myself until 68
      Nelphews in 70s
      My own sons early 90s
      My late Mum Joan Matron 50s
      My late Dad Warren Chef in 50s

      Not once ever did we ever experience a wrong one – and I can say from being a model student and looking back not through rose tinted gasses St Jo’s was an first class school
      Bro Gregory ( Pongo ) was a brilliant educator along with Terrance, Peter and Thomas come to mind
      Easy to hit at those who cannot now defend themselves

      • From my recollections,the De La Salle abusers would target approximately 10% of the class. The ones who were vulnerable, like myself. So that’s around three in every class. It obviously doesn’t include you or your family. Lucky you. But you should not assume that therefore everyone else is okay. Brother Solomon is a proven paedophile. Or are all the media etc lying? His victims run into double figures. So you say it’s easy to hit out at Solomon and co when he can’t defend himself. That’s a typically Catholic way of trying to hide the truth. You’re wasting your time, because every time someone tries to silence me, I just redouble my efforts. So keep it coming, Peter!

  4. Hi
    Thank you for an excellent report. I left St Joseph’s College, Beulah Hill in 1973, became a brother in 1975 after my two year novitiate but left the Order in 1983, continuing to teach until August 2020.
    Apart from Laurence Hughes, l the brothers mentioned in the article are no longer alive or have left the Brothers’ Order.
    Not sure about Paul Macaulay leaving the Order; i think he went on a solo mission prior to his murder but that may have been defacto leaving.
    By the early 1970’s recruitment had stopped and the numbers leaving accelerated.
    A long era of De La Salle work in England (from circa 1850) has ended with men being either in the retirement home or in Oxford.
    God Bless all

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