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Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Gloucester, officially opened a new girls’ day and boarding house at St John’s School in Leatherhead on Wednesday 5 March 2014.
The Duchess has been the School’s Patron since 1981 and the new facility, Gloucester House, has been named in her honour. The newly refurbished building balances the tradition of beautiful Victoriana with the modernism of light bright rooms and is located at the heart of the School overlooking the Quad and War Memorial.
St John’s is an independent school for girls and boys aged from 13 to 18 years. The School was founded in 1851 for sons of poor clergy, with the first few girls entering the Sixth Form in 1989. The School has come a long way since those early days and girls now make up a third of the School’s 650 pupils. The opening of Gloucester House provides the School with a third all-female house in addition to the six boys’ houses.
The Housemistress, Mrs Lise Parker, and House Captain, Isabelle Tonnesen, escorted Her Royal Highness on a tour of the new facility and the Gloucester House girls were thrilled to have an opportunity to present proudly their new home in all its glory. The Duchess clearly enjoyed meeting the girls and ended her visit by unveiling a plaque to commemorate the occasion. Before departing the Duchess was presented with a posy of red and blue flowers in recognition of the House colours.
The Headmaster, Mr Martin Collier, said, “Today marks a milestone in the School’s history with the formal opening of yet another girls’ house. It has been a privilege to welcome our Patron, HRH Duchess of Gloucester, to St John’s for this occasion. We are very grateful that HRH accepted the invitation to open Gloucester House which is named in her honour. The newly renovated House caters for weekly and flexible boarding as well as day girls. It is a stunning facility which is already hugely popular with the girls.”
The House motto “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” is from Oscar Wilde, and the girls have chosen the unicorn from the crest of the House of Gloucester as the House mascot. The Gloucester House girls have already made their presence felt by recently winning the Senior House Fives and House Unison competitions. The house system at St John’s is the foundation of the renowned pastoral system and builds a strong and evident camaraderie. Gloucester House offers first-class boarding facilities and this is reflected by the number of girls who now board.
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