School History Hollygirt School

School History

Our History

Hollygirt School, although it was to be 20 years before it became known as such, was founded in 1877 by Miss Eliza Stevenson.

Initially, the school was at 82 Addison Street, but also took over the adjoining building on Forest Road.


Hollygirt School was founded in 1877 by Miss Eliza Stevenson. Eliza was 39 when Hollygirt was started. It seems reasonable to assume from her family background that Eliza’s motives for starting Hollygirt were not ones related to financial necessity, but rather a desire to teach. 82 Addison Street was the home occupied by the Stevenson family from at least 1874 and it is here that the school first started.


From being a pupil with Stevenson, Kate Stafford became a Junior Mistress in 1898 at the age of 16. When Eliza Stevenson decided to retire in 1906, Kate Stafford took over the school which she would run until her death in 1953. She oversaw the move to Garfield House on Elm Avenue which is now Hollygirt’s Senior School.


Hollygirt moved to Elm Avenue in 1913 and we have owned various buildings in the intervening years, adapting and developing in line with the changing needs of the school.

At several points in the twentieth century we had boarders and a small sixth form. Our stay on Elm Avenue was briefly interrupted during the Second World War when the army commandeered the main building.

During this time the school moved to Billesdon in Leicestershire. All that remains of the army’s occupation is a metal gun rack behind the back door of the school.


After becoming a partner in the school with Kate Stafford in 1947, Rhoda Jessop took over as Headmistress when Kate died in 1953, setting it up as a limited company with herself as Director and Mlle Auricoste as Company Secretary. Before their retirement, Miss Jessop turned the school into an Educational Trust and remained as the Chairman for the rest of her life, taking an active part in running the school with a group of Trustees.


Born in France in 1901, Mademoiselle ‘Mamselle’ as she was affectionately known by pupils, spent most of her adult life in England and the majority of her working life and retirement at Hollygirt. During the period she and Miss Jessop ran the school, she kept a log book which gives an insight into school life and the running of Hollygirt.


Mrs Audrey Vowles came to Hollygirt to teach Speech and Drama in 1957. Miss Jessop chose Audrey to succeed her in the role of Headmistress. Following her ten years as Headmistress, she became a Trustee of the school until 1988.


Marjorie Johnstone became Headmistress of Hollygirt from 1977 until 1985.


Whilst we were founded as a girls’ school, we had a period in the 1980s and 1990s where boys up to the age of 7 were admitted.


Margaret Banks became Headmistress of Hollygirt from 1985 to 1997.


Margaret Connolly became Headmistress of Hollygirt from 1997 to 2007.


Pam Hutley became Headmistress of Hollygirt School.


In 2012, the decision was made to admit boys aged 3 to 7 into the school.


In February 2014, as part of our future strategic development, we announced that Hollygirt would become fully co-educational from September 2014. On Wednesday 3rd September 2014, we welcomed boys into our Nursery, Reception, Year 1, Year 3, Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 classes. By January 2015 we had boys in every Key Stage.


Dr. Helen Barsham became Head of Hollygirt School


Launch of Hollygirt Sixth Form

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