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Our History

St. Swithun's was founded in 1884 by Anna Bramston, the daughter of the Dean of Winchester. Anna was supposedly inspired to found a girls school after hearing a lecture on the benefits of educational establishments for girls by the writer Elizabeth Missing Sewell. In 1883 Anna Bramston and her lifelong friend Amelie LeRoy formed a committee of notable people of Winchester which included; the Headmaster of Winchester College, Charlotte Yonge and W.C. Streatfield.

The Council started a subscription fund to raise money for the establishment of the school and opened Winchester High School for Girls on 5th May 1884 with 17 pupils. 

The aim of the school was to provide an education that developed the full the capacity of every girl and enabled her to become a woman of independent thought.

Originally located in the city centre the school was at the forefront in the development of female education in the nineteenth century. Its pioneering headmistresses and the unfailing determination of the school founders made St. Swithun’s internationally recognisable and a model that other girls’ schools emulated. 

The school moved to its current site in 1929 and our purpose at St. Swithun’s is to continue to develop strong, independent women whose behaviour and values reflect the school’s founding virtues: caritas, humilitas and sinceritas.

Pictured left: The school founders Anna Bramston (left) and Amelie LeRoy (right).

St Swithun's School Tour by Elly Crookes, Archivist (filmed 2021)

Filmed for Old Girls and former members of staff who were unable to join us in person for the Old Girls' Day Reunion 2021

Thank you to Elly Crookes, and to Simon Freakley (camera operator and editor)


The beginnings.

“The history of St Swithun’s school is a story of Winchester’s community spirit, public support and the 19th century enthusiasm to improve girls’ education. In 1883 a campaign was organised by Anna Bramston, daughter of the then Dean of Winchester, with the purpose of establishing a school to provide a ‘sound and thorough’ education for girls in Winchester and its neighbourhood.

The idea found support across the local community: the cathedral, the college, the professions and trades were all represented in the committee of men and women who set about raising the necessary funds to start the school. On 5 May 1884, 17 pupils began attending Winchester High School for Girls. The original 17 soon grew to over 60 and the school took day pupils and boarders.”

Pictured left: The original school building on Southgate Street in 1886.


Miss Mowbray.

Following a short tenure at the school Miss Jurgensen resigns as headmistress and is replaced by Miss Margaret Mowbray in April 1885. Miss Mowbray was only 24 years old when she became headmistress but her youth was never taken for granted as she wrestled control of the running of the school from an overbearing Council in no time. It is recorded very early on in the Council minutes that any decisions regarding the running of the school should be 'left to the discretion of the headmistress.'

Miss Mowbray's appointment began a steady period of development which laid the firm foundations of the school. She strongly encouraged the girls to have an independent mind and further encouraged them to go to university. She introduced a varied curriculum which included science, maths and sport. Her headship oversaw the creation of many extra-curricular activities and societies which were popular amongst the girls and helped foster a school identity.

Of Miss Mowbray one Old Girl wrote:

'Her influence was so great that all those who then came into contact with her learnt the happiness of work and a joy in living, which some of them who never saw her again never lost.'

Miss Mowbray retired in 1916 having served the school for 31 years.

Pictured right: Miss Mowbray (seated centre) with her teaching staff in 1886.


Moving to new premises.

By 1886 the school had enrolled 63 pupils and new premises were required. A new building along North Walls, near St. Peter's Street was purchased by the school.

Of the new premises one old girl wrote:

'By January 1886 the numbers had risen to sixty, and it was not found possible to house more in Southgate Street; we were delighted to be transferred to the quiet seclusion of the old house in S. Peter’s Street with its charming lawn belted with trees. There were no omnibuses in those days, and little traffic down North Walls. The entrance was then through a conservatory with scarlet geraniums climbing to the roof.'

Pictured left: Winchester High School for Girls at its new premises on St. Peter's Street, 1904.

Lower corridor


The first boarding house.

When the school first opened it could only accommodate day pupils but there had always been plans to incorporate boarding facilities when numbers had increased enough. In May 1889 Miss Lewis and Miss Tothill opened the school's first boarding house High House.

High House was located on St. Giles Hill and initially only had four boarders but grew to be one of the larger senior boarding houses at the school.

Pictured right: High House boarding house on St. Giles Hill c.1901.


The Old Girls Association.

The Winchester High School for Girls Old Girls Association was formed in 1891. It's purpose was to a create a bond of union amongst leavers and provide a link between past and present members of the school. As still happens now the association held annual social meetings and would visit the school to see past teachers and participate in the annual matches between Old Girls and current pupils. Each reunion would end with a service in the cathedral.

Pictured left: Miss Mowbray with members of the Old Girls Association, 1910.



Hillcroft boarding house opened in 1895 and was located on Bereweeke Road. Originally Hillcroft was a small house with a garden and tennis court and hockey field adjoining it. At first it held only eight girls but then in 1918 moved to a new building on St. Giles Hill which had greater capacity.

The original boarding house wasn't sold until 2002 making it the last boarding house to be moved to our current school from the city centre.

Pictured right: Hillcroft boarding house in 1918.


School societies.

In 1894 a games club was created. The school were already playing tennis as early as 1886 but established a games committee in order to choose a winter sport for the school and organise inter-house competitions. The committee chose hockey initially and Miss Jameson was the games mistress. Regular tennis competitions were played against Godolphin School but the the first hockey match won by the school was in February 1896 against Queen Anne's Caversham.

The school orchestra was also created in this year and added to the list of clubs and societies already established at the school which consisted of the historical society and the music club.

The mission society is the school's oldest society. It is now called Assist and was set up sometime between 1890-1892. It co-ordinated all of the fundraising efforts for the school and initially collaborated with the Blackfriars Settlement which created opportunities for women and children living in poorer districts of London to convalesce by the sea or provide access to education.

The debating society was set up in 1896 and the science society established in 1897. The science society was incredibly active, it ran an aquarium, a fernery, a science library and a museum where they would hold an annual exhibition of their experiments and specimens collected over the year. 

They undertook regular nature walks to study local plants and insects and in our archive is a fabulous journal created by the society which contains diagrams, drawings and observations of their excursions and experiments.

Pictured left: The first school hockey team in 1896.


Earlsdown, Caer Gwent and Venta.

In 1896 Earlsdown boarding house was opened on St. Giles Hill. The name 'Earlsdown' was supposedly chosen in reference to Earl Wheatof but there are also suggestions if was named after the Earle family who owned the land the boarding house was built on.

Each boarding house had a diary in which the girls would record all the termly events for each year. The Earlsdown boarding house diaries survive from 1896 onwards and include some fascinating stories about boarding school life in the 19th century.

Two day houses, Caer Gwent and Venta were also officially established in this year. By the autumn of 1896 the boarding houses were strongly established and as a natural result inter-house activities became more frequent. Meanwhile the day girls numbering about half the total of girls in the school found themselves in an anomalous position. The need for re-organisation was evident and so the system of town houses which had worked at Clifton College was introduced. Girls with surnames A-G were put in Caer Gwent and those with surnames H-Z were placed in Venta. House rooms were created in the school for the girls to conduct house meetings and variety of activities. As one Old Girl remarked:

'Meetings, tea parties, working parties, rehearsals and games, were held there, plans concocted, and hopes and fears of every sort discussed.'

Pictured right: Earlsdown boarding house in 1901.


The Charlotte Yonge scholarship.

The nineteenth century novelist Charlotte Yonge was a member of the School Council and friend of our school founders who strongly admired her advancement of religious education through her published works.

In recognition of Charlotte Yonge's contributions to the school the school founded a scholarship in Charlotte Yonge's honour which enabled pupils to from the school to go to university.

Amelie LeRoy spearheaded the efforts which proved to be extremely successful. It gained support from high profile members of society such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Duchess of Wellington and even Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII who was Prince of Wales at the time.

The scholarship was awarded on an bi-annual basis and is still awarded by the school today.

Pictured left: The illuminated address presented to Charlotte Yonge by the school at the inauguration ceremony of the Charlotte Yonge scholarship.


Hyde Abbey.

Hyde Abbey boarding house opened on Worthy Road in 1902. Named after the original Saxon church, the house used to be a boy's school called Hyde Abbey School.

Initially Hyde Abbey started with only eight boarders but by 1910 was at full capacity. It was the first boarding house to receive overseas scholars and was run by Miss Towers Thompson.

Pictured right: Hyde Abbey boarding house in 1902.


A new sport.

In 1905 a new sport was introduced to the school. Lacrosse replaced hockey as the school winter sport and we have been playing it every since!

In 1908 the school acquired 10 acres of land on Magdalen Hill for sport practise and matches. Previously the girls used the field at Wolvesey Palace three days a week but the introduction of the Winchester Pageant meant the school had to find new premises. Four tennis courts and two lacrosse pitches were laid down and a sports pavilion was built in 1932 along with six more tennis courts.

Pictured left: The school's first lacrosse team, c.1906.


25th anniversary.

In 1909 the school celebrated its 25th anniversary and in 1910 Miss Mowbray celebrated her 25th anniversary as Headmistress.

Pictured right: Miss Mowbray with Old Girls at her 25th anniversary celebrations in 1910.



In 1912 the school introduced cricket as the sport for the summer term alongside tennis.

Pictured left: Girls at cricket practise in 1928.


World War One.

In 1914 the school changed its name to Winchester High School and witnessed the advent of the First World War.

By 1914 Winchester had become a place of assembly for troops that were to be despatched to the British Expeditionary force in Belgium. There was a camp on Morn Hill where they were all billeted, however, the January of 1915 was so bad that the soldiers had to be temporarily billeted in the city centre after their camp had turned into a muddy swamp.

The school caretakers had one hour to prepare for the reception of 400 soldiers from the 19th men of the Royal Fusiliers and the East Surrey Regiment. They completely transformed the school, according to the 1914-1915 school chronicle:

The Sixth Form was the guardroom; the Upper Third, with a notice on its door declaring “3rd Batt. Royal Fusiliers. Sick Parade, 8a.m. daily” was the Medical Inspection Room; round the Games Room hung harness; the Hall was used for meals, and the Studio and Kindergarten were officers’ dormitories. The men content themselves with the Form rooms, passages and staircases as sleeping apartments, and positions next to hot water pipes were in great demand. The regimental barber set up his shop on the North Walls staircase, while the cooks took possession of the bicycle shed. Not an inch of ground was wasted; on the lawns horses were picketed, and waggons and water carts occupied the remaining space. The hall and passages were lined with baggage and equipment; a sentry with fixed bayonet at the North Walls door added the last touch to the transformation.

The girls conducted their lessons in the boarding houses throughout the soldier's occupation but they were able to return to the main school building within a month.

Pictured right: Soldiers invited for tea by one of the boarding houses.

Occupation of Winchester High School by the Royal Fusiliers in 1915


A new headmistress.

After serving the school for 32 years Miss Mowbray resigned as Headmistress in the Easter term of 1916. She was replaced by Miss Ethel Finlay who was previously the Head of the Day Girls' House at Cheltenham Ladies' College.

Pictured left: Miss Ethel Finlay, the school's second headmistress.


Becoming an independent school and opening LeRoy.

Winchester High School for Girls had always been run on the premise that it was a Church of England school but in 1919 the Board of Education altered its regulations which meant state grants previously awarded to schools by the board, would only be available to those who did not advertise as a Church of England school.

The School Council were faced with a difficult decision over whether to lose its Church of England status or run the school entirely on fees alone. The Council decided on the latter believing that the former option would go against the wishes of the founders. The school gave up its state grant and became and independent public school for girls, a bold decision to make considering the school had no endowments.

Also in this year North Hill House opened in the Autumn term of 1919 on Andover Road. North Hill House was originally a senior girl boarding house but in 1926 when need demanded, it changed to a junior house. North Hill House was renamed LeRoy in 1934 in memory of Amélie LeRoy’s contributions to the school. LeRoy was one of the last boarding houses to move from the city centre to the new site. When the prep school was being rebuilt following a fire in 1974, the decision was also made to move LeRoy to the main school site and it opened in 1975.

Pictured right: North Hill House (LeRoy) in 1919.


A change of name.

In September 1927 the school officially changed its name to St. Swithun's following a longstanding battle with the Board of Education over the school’s title.

According to the Board, ‘Winchester High School for Girls’ was causing administrative confusion with the county school, ‘Winchester County School for Girls’ and the Board of Education implored the school to amend its name.

Despite the fact we predated the county school and stood resolute in not changing our name for some time, the school finally relented in 1927 and explored options for a new name. The Council wanted a name that still resonated with Winchester so they chose ‘St. Swithun’s’. St. Swithun was the Bishop of Winchester and patron saint of Winchester Cathedral and in 1928 we adopted his chief virtues 'caritas, humilitas, sinceritas' as the school motto.

In her speech to Old Girls at the July reunion Miss Finlay declared:

‘You have every reason to be proud of this Saint with whom is associated, first the crown of all virtues - humility – then kindness and sincerity, and one whose life was distinguished by service to his King and people…Could we choose better than the words which express his chief virtues – Caritas, Humilitas, Sinceritas?’

Pictured left: The first school chronicle bearing the school's new name.


St. Swithun.

In 1929 the parents of a St. Swithun's pupil, Anne Hagedorn gifted a statue of St. Swithun to the school in memory of their daughter Anne Hagedorn, a pupil who had sadly passed away that year.

They commissioned Captain Basil Gotto to carve the statue and it was officially dedicated by the Bishop of Winchester on Thursday 26th June 1930. It was originally intended for the school chapel but plans for a chapel at the school during that period never materialised. Instead an alcove was carved specifically for the statue in the main entrance hall.

Pictured right: The statue of St. Swithun in the alcove of the main entrance of the school.


A new home.

By 1929 the school had started to become oversubscribed. Boarding house spaces were a premium and the school were in desperate need of space.

The site the school currently sits on had been earmarked for years with hopes of building a school on the hill top from the time that they bought the land on Magdalen Hill to use as playing fields. Money was raised to purchase a further 23 acres and a relationship was formed with the architects Messrs Mitchell and Bridgwater who were tasked with designing the new school.

The original plan for the school consisted of a large range of buildings round a quadrangle with all the buildings facing inwards. It was designed to provide accommodation for 240 boarders and 60 days girls. 

The architects incorporated space for a chapel, swimming bath, gymnasium and other ancillary buildings. Construction started late in 1930, however, due to financial constraints the school could only afford to bring the main school building and two boarding houses to fruition with the interconnecting cloister joining them together. The initial cost of the build was £50,000 which was raised from the sale of the original school building and through donations.

Great interest was taken in the modern heating system which involved panel heating that came from the ceiling, although sceptics of this new invention spread false rumours that it was causing subsidence to the building!

The first sod was cut by Anna Bramston, while the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Woods at a ceremony marking the laying of the foundation stone on 31st October 1930. On 2nd October 1931, Bishop Woods informally opened the school.

Pictured right: Original architect's plan for the new St. Swithun's school.

St. Swithun's school


Death of Anna Bramston.

In 1931 Anna Bramston passed away. She died just before the new St. Swithun's school opened. She was sorely missed and many praised her for her determination in opening a girls school in Winchester and for her unswerving devotion to the school.

The Chairman of the Council wrote:

'Miss Bramston was just a quiet Christian lady, animated by the spirit of devotion and service. She accomplished a great purpose by following unostentatiously but very definitely the simple tenets of the Master. She leaves an example capable of encouraging future generations of the girls of S. Swithun's School. Let anyone who wished to make a big 'something' of life carry her mind backward from the new buildings to the life of her from whom the idea of the School originally emanated, and she will find inspiration for her own life through the aid of the same means and the same ideals.'

Pictured left: Anna Bramston at her home in Witham Close.


Official opening of St. Swithun's.

In 1932 Mary, Princess Royal and Countess Harewood was invited to officially open St. Swithun's.

Princess Mary was presented with a gilt key to unlock the front doors and was then escorted by the headmistress Ethel Finlay to Bramston Hall where pupils were eagerly waiting to hear the various speeches thanking the princess for her visit. 

After the national anthem was sung, Princess Mary stood and officially declared the school open and requested that four days holiday be granted in remembrance of her visit. According to our school chronicle this ‘called forth renewed applause.’ 

Before leaving she signed the school’s visitor’s book which is now kept in our school archive.

Pictured right: Princess Mary being greeted outside the main entrance to the school in 1932.

Princess Mary officially opens St Swithun's


New boarding houses.

In 1933 the original High House and Hyde Abbey boarding houses were sold and the girls moved to new premises on the new school site.

Pictured left: The new High House (left) and Hyde Abbey (left) boarding houses on the school site.


Our own swimming pool.

A new swimming bath was built on the school site in 1935.

Previously the diving team used to practise in the pool owned by Winchester College but after this temporary loan of facilities ended, the school had to use public swimming baths. With the school up on the hill, the inconvenience of using the public pool was increased and with the help of two endowment policies, the decision was taken in February 1935 to install a swimming bath onsite.

Pictured right: The school swimming pool in the 1950s.


School coat of arms and the opening of Palm Hall boarding house.

The school was granted a coat of arms by the College of Arms on 9th June 1936. It was paid for and presented by Dr. and Mrs Simpson in memory of their daughter Puck (Mabel) Simpson who died from Typhoid soon after leaving the school. She was a boarder in High House from 1926-1934. 

On the shield, St. Swithun carries a book which is meant to symbolise his learning and tutelage of King Alfred. The keys on each side of St. Swithun come from the arms of the See of Winchester, and represent the keys of knowledge. The lion symbolises the connection with the city of Winchester which features two lions on the city’s coat of arms. 

The hurt (blue roundlet underneath the lions raised foot) is a heraldic representation of a whortleberry and references the area of the South Downs near to the school, where whortleberries supposedly thrive.

Palm Hall boarding house also opened in this year as a 'waiting house.' By the 1930s the popularity of boarding at the school had superseded the space available. However, the school due to its financial commitments were reliant on more admissions and leased Palm Hall with Mrs. Nightingale as the housemistress. There were 14 girls who were all assigned a boarding house and had the associated colours but lived at Palm Hall until space was available in their assigned houses.

Pictured left: the school coat of arms.


Miss Grace Watt

For the spring term of 1941 Miss Dorothy Clark was in charge of the school as acting headmistress but in May 1941 was succeeded by Miss Grace Watt as headmistress. She had been headmistress of Portsmouth High School for nine years before coming to Winchester, and had previously taught history at St. Paul's Girls' School.

She came to St. Swithun's at the height of World War Two and immediately had to deal with the occupation of the school by the US Army Medical Corp that requisitioned the school as a hospital and casualty clearing station. She showed great fortitude in managing a school where makeshift lessons had to be conducted across the boarding houses on St. Giles Hill and staff were regularly drafted into duties outside of the school to help the war effort.

Of her management of the school during these years the school chronicle remarked:

'Circumstances forced from her a particular and unique service to the school in those years, and in the strength of what she did then her name will shine in the school's corporate memory.'

Pictured left: Miss Grace Watt


St. Swithun's and the Second World War.

In the Second World War, St. Swithun’s (at its new site on Alresford Road) was once again occupied by armed forces, this time by the Royal Army Medical Corps and then subsequently the American Medical Corps in 1942. The School buildings including High House and Hyde Abbey were turned into a military hospital and the pupils and staff decamped to the boarding houses on St. Giles Hill.

Life at St. Swithun’s during this period has been recorded in the School Chronicles and many Old Girls have recounted their own experiences.

Now the school only had use of the playing fields and even those were on occasion invaded by military vehicles and equipment, involving Miss Watts in much correspondence with the officers in charge. Members of the school remember going to the swimming pool in strict crocodile under military escort, past sunbathing convalescent troops. and being told under no circumstances to look at them or peer in at the windows. The G.I.s were very intrigued and mystified by cricket. When they asked to handle a ball and felt its hardness they could not get over the fact that everyone except the wicket keeper fielded such a hard ball with bare hands.

The school’s contributions to the war effort occupied a lot of their time. Almost everyone in the school joined the War Savings Group and contributed a regular amount each week. All through the war everyone knitted scarves, socks, balaclava helmets, operation stockings and pullovers for the soldiers. Regular help was given by the senior girls at a war nursery established in Winchester, and other pupils grew vegetables and went to farming camps over the school holidays. Staff were drafted for fire watching duties on the hilltop and the girls were tasked with walking round the boarding houses at night to check for chinks of light during the blackout. 

When the war was over, the US Army presented the school with a plaque as a token of gratitude for their use of the school premises as a station hospital.

Pictured right: the plaque presented to the school by the US Army Medical Corps.


A new headmistress and a new prep school.

Miss Phyllis Evans was appointed by the School Council and started her tenure at St. Swithun's at the beginning of 1953. She was an Oxford classicist and had come from the Wellington Diocesan School in New Zealand where she was working as the headmistress.

In Miss Evan's first term at St. Swithun's she was faced with reorganising the the prep school.

St. Swithun's had been teaching children from reception age onwards as early as 1886 but there was never a separate prep school to accommodate the classes, the children were always taught in the main school.

In 1945 Kingsmead House in Kingsgate Street was leased for a year to the preparatory department, but this was only a temporary measure. In 1953, the Council found a new prep school called 'Medecroft' on Sparkford Road and it remained there for 12 years.

Pictured left: Miss Phyllis Evans


75th anniversary and opening Blore House.

St Swithun’s celebrated its 75th anniversary with a visit from the Duchess of Gloucester. To celebrate the proceedings the Duchess of Gloucester was invited to watch a spectacular outdoor gym display and the food science pupils baked a huge cake for the celebration!

The school were also bequeathed a house (Upcot) in Quarry Road by Mr George Blore with some money for renovation. Mr Blore was an ex-College don who had taken an interest in the school during his retirement. The house became a student house for 9 girls and the sixth form girls renamed name the house Blore House in Mr Blore's honour. 


Moving the prep school.

In 1966 the School Council closed Medecroft and built a new prep school on the school site. They were originally going to annexe the LeRoy boarding house on St. Giles Hill but used the sale of Medecroft to build a new school instead.

Pictured left: Prep school pupils in a music lesson, c.1950s.


A boarding house for the sixth form.

Finlay is the only boarding house that originated at the new school site on Alresford Road. It was named after the school’s second headmistress Ethel Finlay who opened the house on 5th February 1972. 

When Finlay opened it consisted of 24 bedrooms, a common room and a study space for the whole sixth form. Finlay was funded by a bequest to the school in 1961 as well as money gained from the sale of the some of the boarding accommodation on St. Giles Hill, which was growing uneconomic with increasing maintenance costs. 

The motto of Finlay is ‘Fortis in Arduis’ and the house was presented with a shield on its opening day which was hung near the entrance.

Pictured right: the Finlay house shield.


Miss Olwen Davies

Miss Olwen Davies was appointed headmistress in September 1973.

In her first year Miss Davies' first oversaw transferring of the library from its old room at top of the first flight of stairs to the new dining room on the second floor. A major event in her second year was with the fire in the prep school where in the process of running over to the school from her house, she unfortunately fell over the low chains at the front gate and broke her wrist!

Pictured left: Miss Olwen Davies


Fire in the prep school.

On 2nd October 1974 a fire broke out in the prep school and destroyed the building. The fire brigade were only able to save three classrooms and a small cloakroom. The hall, staff room and main cloakroom were completely burnt, and all staff records and library books were lost.

Funds came in almost immediately to help rebuild the library collection and appeal was sent out for funds to rebuild the school. Building of a new prep school was competed in the summer of 1974 and the school opened in 1975.

Pictured left: the prep school being rebuilt over the summer term of 1974.


A new Earlsdown boarding house.

By 1979 the Council decided that all the houses remaining in the city centre and on St Giles Hill were to be sold and new boarding houses built on the school site.

One of the first to be sold was Earlsdown. The new Earlsdown boarding house was built with conservation of energy in mind. It was based on a Swedish method of building and most of the materials were shipped from Sweden as pre-fabricated units so that the house could be rapidly erected. The house accommodated 46 girls and a small chapel was built in the house overlooking the playing fields which was used for general use by the school.

The new Earlsdown was officially opened by Lady Trend on 9th May 1982.

Pictured right: Earlsdown boarding house in 1982.


100 years of St. Swithun's.

1984 marked the school’s centenary and a variety of celebrations took place to mark the momentous occasion. The most significant being the opening of the new sports hall by H.R.H the Princess Royal on 5th May 1984. 

Princess Anne was escorted to the main entrance by the headmistress where she signed the visitor’s book and then watched a review of the school’s first 100 years. Each scene depicted a different aspect of school life between 1884-1984. 

She then watched the Centenary Concert which consisted of a series of songs and instrumental pieces played by the school orchestra. After the concert she was given a tour of the school and then treated to gymnastics display in the new sports hall which she officially declared open.

Pictured left: Princess Anne's arrival at St. Swithun's in 1984.

Princess Anne at the school's centenary celebrations


Our sixth headmistress.

Lady Joan Appleyard née Jefferson starts as headmistress in 1986.

Pictured left: Lady Joan Appleyard.


A new swimming pool.

The expansion of the School and the ever increasing cost of maintaining an outdoor swimming pool in the British climate meant the old swimming pool was totally inadequate by the 1990s. The school reverted back to using the facilities at Winchester College for older prep school girls which was inconvenient for both parents and pupils.

An official appeal was launched to fund a new swimming pool complex and building started in July 1993. The new complex was completed by 1994.

Pictured right: architect's plan for the new swimming pool complex, 1993.


Our seventh Headmistress.

Dr Helen Harvey starts as headmistress in 1995.

Pictured left: Dr Helen Harvey.


A new Performing Arts Centre.

Over time the Bramston Hall wasn't sufficient to meet the needs of the drama department and the school required a much larger space for performance and recitals.

The Performing Arts Centre was built in 2002 and was oficially opened by the Mayor of Winchester on 24th October 2003. The main peformance space Harvey Hall was named after Dr Helen Harvey, the school's headmistress who oversaw the creation of the centre.

The first performance held in the centre was a choral and orchestral concert of Haydn's music. The first full scale production was 'The Snow Queen' which was performed in March 2004 with a cast of 64 pupils. It was a huge team effort and paved the way for large productions in the future.

Pictured right: Harvey Hall Performing Arts Centre


Our eighth headmistress.

Ms Jane Gandee is our current headmistress, she took up the position in 2010.

Pictured left: Ms Jane Gandee.


A new school chapel.

Since the school's inception, pupils have always attended Sunday services in Winchester as opposed to the school because it never had a chapel big enough to accommodate everyone. The junior houses would either go to St John's (the nearest parish church) or Winchester Cathedral. The senior houses were allowed to choose where to attend.

There was a small chapel in the original school, but this was largely used for confirmation lessons and private worship. Similarly, plans were drawn up for a purpose-built chapel on the new site in 1937 and there was even a chapel fund appeal to raise money for the building. However, plans were put on hold by the school council and it was finally decided not to build a school chapel.

Over 60 years later it was decided that a chapel should be on site, and our new chapel was opened by the Rt. Revd Timothy Dakin, Bishop of Winchester on 14 September 2013.

Pictured right: The inside of the school chapel.


A new uniform.

In 2015 a new school uniform was introduced, featuring navy blue and orange tones. The uniform reflects the modern day St Swithun's that we are today.

Pictured left: Girls in our school uniform.


The opening of the Jill Isaac Study Centre.

In 2022 we opened the Jill Isaac Study Centre. Jill, who sadly passed away in 2017, spent eight years of her life at St Swithun's, firstly in the junior school when it was still at the original school site in Winchester city centre and later in the senior school on Alresford Road. Her first visit to the senior school was when it had been commandeered by the US Army Medical Corps as a hospital for the wounded.

Jill's great sadness was that she was not able to apply for Oxford or Cambridge as, although she had an excellent Higher School Certificate, unfortunately she was advised to give up Latin and take up Spanish, when Latin was a necessary requirement for Oxbridge. This was a great pity as she was an excellent researcher and would have been a prodigious scholar. She loved books throughout her life.

Following a secretarial course and subsequent work for an estate agent, Jill met Malcolm Isaac when she moved to Vitacress, a company which he owned, in 1966. They were married in 1983 and enjoyed 34 happy years together.

Jill's last wish was to give something back to the school she loved so much.

Through a personal gift of great magnitude and generosity, Malcolm enabled St Swithun's to design and build this beautiful building. It will be a lasting tribute to his wife, Jill.

It is a place of focus for university candidates, particularly those aspiring to Oxford or Cambridge - an inspirational space for study and quiet reflection.

Pictured right: The Jill Isaac Study Centre.


Contact us


T: 01962 835734 or 01962 835782

Old Girls' Association
St Swithun's School
Alresford Road
SO21 1HA


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