St Mary's School, Wantage

St Mary's School, Wantage

St Mary's School, Wantage

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St Mary's School was an Anglican private girls' school located in Wantage, Oxfordshire, England, between 1873 and 2007, when it merged with Heathfield School to become Heathfield St Mary's. The school was popular with the British aristocracy.

History

The Reverend William John Butler became Vicar of Wantage on 1 January 1847. His main aims were, first, to revive the religious life in England and second, to improve education. He hoped to achieve these aims by setting up an order of teaching sisters, but he faced many disappointments and spent 25 years trying to improve various day schools in the parish before St Mary’s School was founded in 1873.

The school was run by the sisters of the Community of St. Mary the Virgin and was based in the Queen Anne house on Newbury Street. Sister Ellen was the first Sister-in-Charge and Sister Juliana succeeded her in 1887. Sister Juliana had studied at Cambridge and set a high standard for the girls, entering them for the Oxford and Cambridge local examinations.

Sister Annie Louisa joined the school in 1898 and started a guide movement called Scout Patrols in 1899 before Boy Scouts had even begun. She succeeded Sister Juliana as Headmistress in 1903. Sister Annie Louisa was responsible for the chief structural improvements at St Mary’s including a science wing and the conversion of an old barn into a gymnasium. By the time Sister Annie Louisa left in 1919, St Mary’s was recognised as a “public school with an unusually high standard...
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