St Mary’s was established in 1871 in the heart of Hampstead as a Roman Catholic convent boarding school for girls, with some day-boarders and young boys to pre-preparatory level, by the IBVM (now known as the CJ Congregation of Jesus).
Since 1926 the school has flourished in a beautiful Grade II Listed house on Fitzjohn’s Avenue, including a full size Chapel since 1939, and with gardens and outdoor areas which are unsurpassed in the area and where modern facilities have been carefully situated.
In 1992 St Mary’s School became a new registered charity with a lay Board of Trustees, allowing the unbroken provision of a faith-based education and so continuing to be one of the leading Catholic schools in London for girls.
This Catholic independent school remains faithful to the ideals of the Venerable Mary Ward, Foundress of the CJ, who said in 1617:
There is no such difference between men and women that women may not also do great things.
Her belief in the provision of a thoroughly grounded academic and spiritual education for girls as a foundation for an enriched and confident adulthood is as true today as it was in the early seventeenth century.
The History of St Mary’s School was published in July 2016 by the Trustees after some years of research by a fellow Trustee, Marion Jeffrey, a former parent of three children at the school and Chair of governors 2002-2012. The hard back history book of 160 pages details how the school has developed over the last almost one hundred and fifty years and remained true to the core principle of the provision of high quality Catholic education for girls in a friendly, family environment.
The History reflects on the advantages experienced by those at the school with the benefit of a Chapel and a much loved Chaplain, Fr Chris Connor. Likewise, the CJ which continues to offer active support to the school and close relations with Mary Ward’s foundation which is of fundamental importance. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, who has visited the school, gave his blessing to the History and provided the Preface.
The History is a window to the panoply of female characters – Headmistresses, Superiors, religious and lay staff who dedicated, and continue to dedicate, their lives to giving religious and academic knowledge to their pupils to enable a rich, balanced and informed maturity.
With the third Catholic lay Head, Mrs Harriet Connor-Earl taking up her Headship from September 2016, and with an overwhelmingly high proportion of Catholic pupils, St Mary’s continues to be true to the ideal of Mary Ward in offering a strongly articulated ethos in a uniquely challenging and dynamic educational environment.
The History of St Mary’s School is illustrated throughout with archival and contemporary photographs and is available for £25 per copy (plus postage if not collected) from the School Office. Please contact Marika Tham on 020 7435 1868 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org