March 30, 1878

Advertisement placed in The Mercury and The Herald

May 2, 1878

The school opened on 2nd May 1878 with twenty girls.

The curriculum at this time included English, grammar, composition, literature, history, geography, Scripture, botanical studies, drawing and music. One of the more progressive elements of the girls’ education at this time was to have Swedish Drill exercise in the gymnasium. This necessitated a special costume, a loose serge tunic with short sleeves, worn over knee length serge bloomers.

September 27, 1879

The school name was changed from Northampton Middle-Class Girls’ School to The Clevedon School.

June 16, 1882

Miss Constance Mary Waldron was appointed as Head in January. In the September of her first year she opened a Junior Department for girls under the age of seven.


February 9, 1887

The school became part of The Church Schools Company and adopted the motto, Initium Sapientae Timor Domini.

October 18, 1888

The school was now advertised as The Clevedon Hall Church High School. At this time there were 14 other girls’ schools in town.

August 12, 1898

The school buildings in Abington Street were extended and modernised.

November 14, 1900

Lessons at this time were taken from nine until one. Some girls then chose to go home. Others stayed on for extra music, drawing, gymnastics, botanical walks and ball games.

April 7, 1901

When Queen Victoria died in January the girls were asked to wear grey dresses for several months.

March 6, 1909

An inspection of the school noted that some of the classroom work was rather leisurely and there was a shortage of staff. The inspectors recognised that, ‘the average salary of £73 a year was not enough to attract women of top quality.’

June 11, 1912

Miss Straker retired and was presented with a crocodile skin dressing case, a pearl brooch and a gold bracelet.

July 18, 1912

Miss Wallace was appointed as Head of the school in September. Miss Wallace was described as, ‘looking as if she could have walked onto the stage in an Oscar Wilde play, wearing a long skirted cream shantung silk suit and carrying a parasol, she wore long chiffon scarves which floated as she walked.’

August 14, 1914

War was declared in Europe.

The school moved into Castilian House on the corner of Castilian Street and Derngate where the annual rent was £65.

September 18, 1916

During the war years the girls sang The National Anthem and the Marseillaise (in French) every morning. Soldiers convalescing at the Duston War Hospital were invited to concerts and plays.

Photograph of The Rivals a Sheridan Play 1916.

April 12, 1917

At the summer sports day of 1917 Margaret Hollowell threw a cricket ball 112 feet and cleared 13 feet in the long jump. She went on to play hockey for England.

June 10, 1919

The High School Sport’s Day took place at St. Andrew’s Hospital. Augusta Aplin, aged thirteen, became School Champion winning several events including the Kangaroo race! A source of great gratification was the victory of girls over boys in the tug-of-war.

March 15, 1920

44, Derngate, previously a Vicarage, was acquired for the school for £5,500. Part of the purchase price was realised from the sale of Castilian House.

February 10, 1921

Soon after the move to Derngate the blazer uniform edged with yellow cord became part of the school uniform.

March 7, 1923

Miss Wallace would pray that her girls might be saved from ‘vanity, pride and self-confidence!’ She frequently addressed them on manners and etiquette.

March 22, 1924

Memorable outings during the twenties including a visit to Sywell aerodrome to watch Sir Alan Cobham’s flying circus.

For a few shillings girls could take a short passenger trip. The pilot was instructed by Miss Wallace not to fly too high and to keep the plane level at all times to avoid the girls falling out!

July 3, 1927

The Prince of Wales visited Northampton and the High School girls were invited to join the School for Girls in welcoming him in St. George’s Avenue.

March 30, 1928

The High School’s fiftieth anniversary was celebrated with a new Jubilee Song, an Open Day for parents and a visit from H.R.H. The Princess Mary.

A yellow silk banner was embroidered with the school crest in gold and silver thread, the work was carried out in an attic with the girls taking turns to add two stitches to the crest under careful supervision.

February 6, 1929

To celebrate the Jubilee, staff were presented with silver and enamel brooches in the shape of the school crest.

The winter uniform at this time consisted of a black tunic, four inches from the floor while kneeling, a blouse, a yellow and black tie and a black velour hat. The summer uniform was a shantung silk dress with pleats, a rather low, wide collar and a black bow, black belt and black stockings.

March 7, 1931

As a result of the depression staff salaries were temporarily cut by 10%.

Miss Wallace took a term’s sabbatical and sailed to South Africa.

April 26, 1935

Salaries were restored to the pre depression rates. A prospectus was printed for the school showing the beautiful gardens, the balcony room, the tennis courts, the gymnasium and science laboratory.

October 1, 1936

In her final speech day in October 1936 Miss Wallace praised the school and its development during her time and said that School Inspectors had described it as one of the happiest schools they had ever inspected.

July 1, 1937

After 25 years as headmistress Miss Wallace retired. There were many celebrations including lunches, concerts, singing competitions, church services and dinners during the summer term.

Miss Ruth Mary Marsden was guest at one of the leaving celebrations for Miss Wallace in July 1937. She was to become the next headmistress of the High School at the age of 36.

March 30, 1938

The School’s 60th Birthday Diamond Jubilee was celebrated. Miss Wallace returned to the Old Girls’ weekend to cut a cake with 60 candles.

July 16, 1939

At the start of term, 124 girls and 17 staff from Willesden County Secondary arrived to share the premises. They attended school from 2pm – 6pm.

August 21, 1941

A suggestion that 70 of the younger girls should be sent to school in Canada was abandoned after a ship packed with children bound for the U.S.A was torpedoed and sunk in the mid-Atlantic.

Towerfield was bought by the Governors for £2,200 and became the Junior Department under Miss Klitz. It opened with 50 children from Lkg to 2nd form in the Autumn term.

July 3, 1943

The pupil numbers in school were now 420 with a staff 22 and the new Chair of Governors was Charles Alsop.

March 6, 1945

The war in Europe ended May 1945 with the Japanese surrendering in August 1945.

June 8, 1946

Victory in the Second World War was officially celebrated with a national holiday on June 8th 1946 when King George V1 sent out a message to all schools.

March 5, 1947

Direct Grant meant that the Junior Department of the High School could be retained as an independent entity and demand for places increased.

Springhill, a former School for the Deaf in Cliftonville, founded in 1868 by Dr Arnold, was bought for £8000.

September 13, 1948

Elizabeth Church became a national swimming champion at 17 and represented Great Britain in the 1948 Olympics at Wembley Stadium.

May 2, 1950

Miss Wallace died and The Old Girls’ Association opened a fund to perpetuate her memory. The Wallace Prize for Head Girl was established.

February 4, 1952

Girls whose families had a television could stay at home to watch the funeral of King George V1. The rest listened to the service on the radio at school.

At the Open Day in July H.R.H. the Duchess of Gloucester laid the foundation stone for the new Science Block.

June 2, 1953

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 11 and the school’s 75th birthday.

A banner, designed by K. M. Peyton, later author of the Flambards series, and Mrs Robinson from the Art Department showed Queen Elizabeth I on horseback.

March 20, 1954

The new Science Block was completed and the Duchess of Gloucester returned to see the building in use.

July 18, 1957

The assembly hall, gymnasium and library completed and Lieutenant Earl Spencer performed the Opening Ceremony. Mr Cripps’ generosity had made the building possible in the form of donations and loans.

August 7, 1959

Miss Gertrude Peirce, later Mrs John Woods, Mayoress in 1917 and Governor from 1931 died and The Mrs John Woods Prize for ‘good service’ was founded in her memory.

March 6, 1960

Miss Marsden and Miss Harrison attended the wedding of H.R.H. Princess Margaret and Mr Anthony Armstrong-Jones while the school had a day’s holiday. Dr John Stopford officiated at the opening of the Cyril Thomas Cripps Hall and unveiled a portrait of the donor painted by Alice Burton.

March 7, 1961

In Miss Marsden’s first year pupil numbers were 200, they had now risen to 700.

September 19, 1962

Beckett House was bought for £9000 giving the Music Department a home at last.

November 19, 1963

15 year old Jacqueline Enfield won a silver medal in swimming at the Commonwealth Games and would represent Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics the following year.

March 31, 1964

Mrs Gee, who had done so much to develop the V1 Form, retired in July.  Miss Marsden retired at the same time after 26 years as Headmistress.  During her time V1 Form numbers had risen from 5 to 105.

86 years after Miss Pearson opened the doors of 83 Abington Street to the first 20 pupils of her Middle Class Girls’ School, Miss Sylvia Lightburne took office as Headmistress.

54, Derngate, together with numbers 60 and 80 were acquired for the School by the Cripps Foundation.

April 22, 1968

Mr Humphrey Cripps became a member of the Governing Body.

The Public Schools Commission began an investigation into Direct Grant Schools to discover how best they might be fitted into the Comprehensive System.

September 24, 1970

Mrs Gee died at the age of 73.  She had become a legend in her own lifetime. Dr Grimes, former Chair of Governors said, “Lydia Mary Gee’s academic sights were set very high indeed and in nothing was her genius more impressive than in the encouragement with which she inspired her pupils to raise their sights also.”

The Marsden-Gee Foundation was responsible for commissioning artworks for the school, a bronze head of Miss Marsden, a portrait of Mrs Gee and the funding of prizes for Arts and Science.

March 13, 1976

The School became a fully Independent School again and the Direct Grant System was phased out year by year. An Appeal Fund was launched to raise sums of money to provide bursaries and to maintain and enlarge buildings.


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