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Items of Interest and Past News

Notable former students and staff

Violet Friedlaender 


A collection of information about Old Girl Violet Friedlaender gathered together in 2018,

the centenary year of Women’s Suffrage. Another interesting article, written after her death, can be found here. 

Appreciation of the Life of Harriet Robinson

This Appreciation was shared with us by David Skidmore. Harriet was the daughter of his grandfather’s half-sister Polly Skidmore. David approached us for help in researching the time Miss Robinson spent as Headteacher at SMH (1945-49)

Harriet returned to England from South Africa where she had been Headmistress of Durban Ladies College (1924-32) and Herschel Girls’ School in Capetown (1933-45). A few months before VE Day; she sailed from Cape Town on the RMS Andes which docked in Liverpool on the 25 March 1945. The Passenger List confirms that South Africa had been her country of permanent residence and that England was her country of intended future permanent residence. Shortly after her return she was appointed to re-open and re-establish St Mary’s Hall, closed during the war when the buildings had been taken over by the military.

The effort of reopening the school and steering it through the four years which followed took their toll on Miss Robinson’s health and she reluctantly decided that she could not continue as Head.


Mr Skidmore’s appreciation, using extrapolations of our own Histories, memories of Girls and family papers, shows all too clearly that her resignation was a shock and how much the school owed to her unstinting labours and may be found here.

Postcard from TKP 11 Sept 1949.jpg

T.K.”, the writer of the letter to 'Dearest Sally' has been identified, by her handwriting, as being Harriet Robinson. Her relative and biographer (see above) is at a loss to explain either the use of T.K. for Harriet or Sally for her sister Mary, recipient also of the postcard illustrated here and sent on 11 September 1949.

Postcard from TKP 11 Sept 1949 reverse.j

Missionary work in China

Edith Churcher, English Teacher at SMH 1884; and others. (click here)

The image shows Mr & Mrs Ahok - and family, from 'Behind the Great Wall'

Early editions of SMHA newsletters (to 1907) give reports from Edith Churcher and others who went to China from SMH.

Mr and Mrs Ahok from Behind the Great Wa

SMHA Publications

Hidden Staff in 1968

31 Staff Names.jpg

1968’s School Magazine (page 28) carried this article which attracted a whole new audience in 2021 when we shared it in the Virtual Common Room.

Sarah Collett (Kentish), Lis Eastham (Ferguson), Sian Spencer (Williams),

Michelle Craig, Jane Fowlie (Badger), Melanie Morrison, Judith Scott

(Savery), Ann Ogden Gaffney, Susan McDonagh, Juliet Rose (O’Hea),

Maria Waring and Cynthia Palmer (Miss Fabian) all helped to ‘name

those staff’ with Lis Eastham confirming and finding the last couple in newsletters of the period!

The original piece is reproduced to the left,  and the answers are listed here (a Word document is downloaded to your PC) if you want to play the game yourself and check them off!

The Good Companions – the story of the SMHA - by H. R Potter

(transcribed from the Jubilee (50th)  edition of the Newsletter – December 1948) The transcription may be found here.

Exchange Programme

The student exchange programme between St Mary’s Hall, Brighton and St Mary’s Hall, Burlington, New Jersey ran from 1960-1972. The two schools alternated their exchanges: One year an English student went to Burlington; the next year an American girl spent the year in Brighton.

This article has been written by Jeanette Cureton (Smith) who was the first SMH (Burlington, NJ) student to come over from the US to SMH (Brighton), in 1961-62.

We are also pleased to be able to reproduce an extract from Doane Academy’s Fall 2018 issue of their Magazine “Ivy Leaves” on the same topic here.

Update October 2020 Members of your SMHA Team are always on the look-out for new (or in this case, old) material to add to our online archives. A chance look into "a new set of digitised maps in the British Library" led an online search in the British Library online. Unfortunately, it did not yield anything about our SMH (Brighton) but it did, somewhat surprisingly give up quite a lot of information about our sister school SMH (Burlington, NJ).

We notified Jeanette (see above), who, in turn, advised the current school head and a history teacher, who also keeps the Burlington school archives. All were 'gobsmacked' (sic) to find such fascinating material about their USA school in the British Library! We were notified that the material included, among other things, a graduation address to the “ladies of SMH” by founder Bishop Doane, an "appeal to parents for female education on Christian principles," an early catalogue and prospectus, and a sermon at the 1847 consecration of the chapel. 

We are pleased to replicate here an old image of Doane Academy from 1840 and a Portrait of Bishop Doane (1799-1859 which hangs in the ante-chapel of the school.

St. Nicolas

The Programme of “St. Nicolas” performed by the combined

Choral Society of SMH and Brighton College in 1963 can be found here.

The Boy with a Cart

The play was produced at SMH between 1948 and 1957. The play was originally published in 1945. More information on Cuthmann, Saint of Steyning may be found by following this link

The programme may be found here.

Parent School Association News Edition Autumn 1992

Please click here.

Speech Day Programme 1996

Please click here.

Boarding Handbook - circa 2008/9

'Rescued' from a shipping container at Roedean school,

just in time to avoid destruction. PDF may be found here

"A Gem on almost every page"

"Sterling is made up of £1 = 100 pennies"

St Mary's Hall School Prospectus - circa 1985-2000

PDF may be found here


"These pupils have been EXCITED TO EXPRESSION."

St Mary's Hall School Prospectus - with fees - 1965

PDF may be found here

"Driving lessons are available to all members of the VIth form over 17 years of age

by arrangement with the British School of Motoring."

Several of the images from 1960's (shown elsewhere on this site)

were used for this prospectus.

St Mary's Hall School Prospectus - 1948

PDF may be found here

"No eatables may be sent to girls during term time or brought from home, with the exception of birthday cakes"

St Mary's Hall School Prospectus - c1946

This copy of the prospectus, we must assume, was an interim version c1946. Miss Robinson succeeded Miss Stopford in 1946 and the Prospectus has been hand edited, noting this fact; along with other changes from the previous print run, such as the addition of optional Violin, Cello and Painting classes, with term fees.

PDF may be found here

Memorable Events in the Life of the School

150th Anniversary

The 1986 Service Sheet from Service of Thanksgiving for 150th anniversary of Founding of St Mary’s Hall can be found here.

An Album showing the visit of HRH the Princess Royal in 1956; presenting prizes at The Dome and inspecting the Brownies and Guides at SMH.

(click on the image below)


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

(click on image below)

1936 Centenary Appeal

and Report in 'The Times'

pageant 1936.jpg

Information and images

from the

Centenary Celebrations

may be found here

1936 Pictorial Booklet

These images may be found elsewhere in the Galleries, but here they are put together as in the original booklet.

Please click on the image below.

SMH Photo Booklet 1936 1.jpg

1920's Postcard images.

These Postcards are from a scrapbook created by an unknown schoolgirl (or staff member?),

annotating the original images (c1920?).

The later uses make the images especially interesting; although many of the images are already in use in different sections of the website. The creator must have been at the Hall, post the renovation works which changed the Old San into an Art Building and the Old Dining Room into a History Room and Staff Room.

(click on image below)


This image of one of the Honours Boards can be viewed in greater details Gallery - External Views and scroll to

'Artefacts inside The Spire Arts Centre (formerly St Mark's Church)', towards the bottom)


The Marine Square & Kemp Town Past & Present Group

This is a Facebook group which is suitable for all who are interested in Marine Square & Kemp Town in Brighton. It's a group where you can view and add past and current photos or news and events. If you have moved away and want to stay in touch with what is going on then it is the page to visit!

Follow this link to be redirected!

(Sorry, but those without a Facebook presence will not be able to access the link.)


The Chattri

An article expanding on reference to it in our winter e-Newsletter (issued Jan. 2019) can be found here - our interest was piqued by the reason for siting the burning ghat on the Downs above Brighton, rather  than by the memorial itself!


Witches Brew

The following was sent to us by an

Old Girl who remembered the original performance of this.
It may have appeared in an earlier magazine. Sadly no photographic evidence from the performance is available.

When shall we three meet again
In peace & quietness without pain?
When the ghastly term is done
When the packing’s checked & won
When the noisy brats have gone
Then shall we rejoice with song

All the rooms will tidy be
No more searching for the key
No more sounding of the knell
At seven am with its ringing bell
No more girls to drag from beds
With sheets pulled off their lazy heads


No more cloaks with hems to mend
No more girls who’re sick to have to tend
No more talking after lights
No more gaping holes in tights
No more long and straggly hair
No more cries of ‘It’s unfair!’

No more girls to hurry along
To get to breakfast by the gong
No more small helpings for fussy Trans
No more plastic bags with hidden cans
No more quarrelling among the First
No more IV’s eating fit to burst

No more II’s in the library chatting
No more III’s in Room G for Latin
No more V’s to the launderette loaded
Nor cryptic notes to be decoded
No more VI to drag from the phone
No more beakers straying from home

No more fruit salad at any meal
No more water too cold to feel
No more baths to overflow
No more name tapes to have to sew
No more mittens of varied hue
Untidy drawers to have to view

No more shoes with heels too high
No more records at full ‘High’ Fi
No more forms handed in late
No more children for whom to wait
No more visits to Brighton C
Oh how peaceful that will be

Now let us weave a magic charm
That none of you will come to harm
Round about the cauldron go
In the depths now let us throw
Mice that like the greedy forms
And wander nightly in their dorms

Bars of chocs from pillows taken
And all the bits from breakfast bacon
Sticky sweets from dressing gown pockets
Twisted rings and fancy lockets
All the bits left on study floor
These we’ll add just more and more

Bits of soup left in the sink
Let us add into our drink
Bottle dregs from Sixth form studies
See how this our mixture muddies
Confiscations left on the table
Because they do not bear a label

All the torches, crisps and eats
Confiscated from midnight feasts
Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and fruit cup bubble
Now before you leave this place; happy children take a taste

Drink your fill of our witches’ brew
Mixed for you by your servants true…

Miss Payne, Mrs Leslie & Mrs Drew

 The 'Henry Venn Elliott' & 'George Basevi' buses

Brighton & Hove's buses have been named after notable deceased people with a connection to the area since 1999. The idea originated with the Company's Operations Director Paul Williams as the first double deck low-floor buses were due to be delivered. He suggested they be named after notable landmarks as a way of creating interest. Like all good ideas, once it had been nurtured it became even better - in this case by using bus fronts to honour notable names from local history. After all, landmarks might confuse passengers that the bus would travel to them, whereas the buses are given a real human feel by using names.
And so since 1999, every new bus that has entered the fleet has been named. The main criterion for inclusion is that the deceased person made a significant contribution to the area or had a strong connection during their lifetime. 

                                                    Click here to read about the 5 & 5a buses, "Henry Venn Elliott"                                    


                                                           Click here to read about the 49 bus, "George Basevi"

Henry Venn Elliott is on the 5 and 5a going to Patcham and George Basevi,

architect of SMH, is on the 49 to East Moulscombe.

 School Prayer

O God, by whose manifold grace all things work together for good to them that love Thee, stablish, we pray Thee, the thing that Thou has wrought in us, and make this school as a field which the Lord hath blessed, that whatsoever things are true, pure, lovely and of good report, may here forever flourish and abound. Preserve in it an unblemished name, enlarge it with a wider usefulness and exalt it in the love and reverence of all its members, as an instrument of Thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.




  SMHA Prayer

O God, who art everywhere present, look down in Thy mercy on all those who have gone forth from this school. Grant that by the light of Thy divine inspiration and the gifts of Thy bountiful providence they may fulfil Thy

purpose for them here on earth and may attain at length to that blessed home where they shall go no more out but serve and praise Thee continually in Thy temples; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


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