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1949 - "First Founder's Day for Ten Years" - Friday 17th June

With thanks to Beryl Richardson (Swan, 1947-51) for posting original newspaper clippings to us and to

Ruth Ferguson (Powell 1948 -50) for providing some additional original photo prints from the day.

Transcribed from a Newspaper of the time,

possibly The Argus:


Founder’s Day Revived

Revived for the first time since before the war, Founder’s Day at St. Mary’s Hall, Eastern Road, Kemp Town, was welcomed by speakers yesterday (Friday) as the opening speech day and prize-giving of “a new era” in the school’s long history.

The story of the school’s closing at the outbreak of war, its “occupation” by the Army and the hard struggle to restore and re-open it in 1946 was told to a crowded audience of pupils and their parents by the headmistress, Miss H. Robinson. Thanking all who had worked towards its restoration, she expressed the hope that the school will continue to be “that powerful factor for good in the lives of girls” it has always been.

There are now 229 pupils, including 102 boarders and, of the seven girls who entered for the School Certificate after only one year’s work, five had passed.

Bishop’s Praise

The school’s “extraordinary transformation” was praised by its President, the Bishop of Chichester (Dr. G. K. A. Bell) who presented the prizes. The credit was due principally, he said, to the Old Girls - whose patriotism and enthusiasm he described as something phenomenal – and to the efforts of the headmistress.

“At St. Mary’s Hall you have a background of religion” he pointed out. “In addition to that you want the humanities put in the front places, you want a knowledge of literature, philosophy, poetry and history imparted to the young.”

The chairman of the school governors, Mr. C. E. Elliott, who presided, gave news of improvements that are soon to be made. A boarding school will shortly be erected on the bombed site in Eastern-road next to the front entrance drive and it will be named Elliott House in commemoration of his great-grandfather who founded the school 113 years ago.

After the prizegiving the parents saw an exhibition of work done in the school. Following tea they were given an effective demonstration of physical training by the girls."

Transcribed from The Brighton Herald:

"First Founder’s Day For Ten Years


The strides made since the St Mary’s School for Girls (sic) Eastern-road, Brighton, was reopened following a complete close down during the war years, were described yesterday when the first Founder’s Day in ten years was held.

Mr. C. E. Elliott, chairman of the Board of Governors, said that on a gloomy afternoon in February, 1945, stock was taken of the position and it was found the building had been badly damaged both by bombs and by the troops quartered there following its requisitioning.

There was little equipment and no money but as a school which had been in existence more than 100 years a great many friends were ready to lend a hand. They were extremely fortunate in having Miss Harriet Robinson as their first head mistress following the reopening and thanks to her and many other helpers a great many difficulties had been overcome.

Building permits had been obtained and it was hoped shortly to erect a new boarding house in Eastern Road.

Miss Robinson, in presenting her report, said that in 1946 there were 23 children at the school. Now there were 229, of whom 102 were boarders.

Miss Robinson thanked all those who had helped towards the school’s progress among them the President of the Board,  Dr. G. K. A. Bell, Bishop of Chichester.

Dr. Bell presented the prizes.


Form Prizes: Anne Robinson, Linda Berk, Jennifer Booth, Francis Hills, Pauline Griffith, Simon Standage, Valerie Carter, Celia Tassel, Loretta Berk, Helen Cope, Martyne Morse, Vanessa Phillips, Jane Calling, Rosemary Janes, Penelope Burgis, Carol Johnston, Jean Scatliffe, Evelyn Waring, Madge Davis-White, Alison Butler, Joan Edwards, Garth Evans.

Subject Prizes: Shirley Smart, Evelyn Waring, Simon Standage, Alison Butler, Mary Patten, Janet Luyken, Jeanette Saunders, Rosemary Scott."

Footnote: There are some familiar names in the prizes and awards: Jean Weston (Scatliffe) and Joan Edwards are both still members. Shirley Smart we think may be related to Gloria Smart and Penelope Burgis is perhaps related to Sarah Robinson (Burgis). Gloria and Sarah are both also still members of SMHA.

The eagle-eyed will also spot that, as at several times in our history, boys were pupils in the lower forms.

Above image - Beryl Richardson is pictured third in from the right hand end in the front row & Ruth Ferguson is fifth from the left, front row, with plaits. 

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