Monday, 17 February 2020

School marking its 90th birthday

ST Mary’s School in St Andrew’s Road is celebrating 90 years since it was founded.

ST Mary’s School in St Andrew’s Road is celebrating 90 years since it was founded.

This unique gem of an educational establishment is nestled in the residential heart of Henley.

Winding the clock back 90 years, we discover a town in need of a school and Miss Margaret E Bailey, daughter of the local church organist and choir master, harnessed that shortfall.

Taking its name from the family church, St Mary’s was born.

With no initial premises early classes were held in Miss Bailey’s parents’ home at 45 Bell Street.

Numbers swelled quickly and after a year the household moved to The Tower at 9 St Andrew’s Road — which was subsequently renumbered 11 due to the addition of a building lower down the road. With only a small garden, the acquisition of a field to the rear of the properties allowed children’s games, sports and the growing of vegetables.

Miss Bailey remained proprietor and principal for more than 40 years until her retirement in 1967.

It is worth noting that by the late Eighties the school had still only had three headmistresses in its 60-year-plus history.

Long-term headmistress Pamela Beggin observed that this was not due to a lack of courage or imagination to move on, but rather that the place seized one’s affection and enthusiasm — making each year a welcome challenge.

With its warm welcome, unique specialist teaching and solid foundations, St Mary’s still offers outstanding education and a love of learning for life.

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