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News from the PHC Archives: Part Six

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Remembering Miss Prain

Miss Prain played a big role in the history of Princess Helena College, teaching at the school when it was located in Ealing and again when it moved to Temple Dinsley in 1935. She passed away in 1983 at the age of 87. We would like to share the memorial from the PHC magazine in 1983.

Vyvyen Alice Prain, who died in Beccles on the 31st of March 1983, aged 87, taught History at PHC in Ealing from 1919 to 1925, and returned, Headmistress, when the school moved to its third main abode, here at Temple Dinsley, after four years as Head of History at Wycombe Abbey and six as Headmistress of the Ladies’ College, Guernsey.

Miss Prain was remarkable. Not only did she teach all our history and Religious Knowledge, and some Mathematics, but she designed and sewed all the costumes for the school and staff plays, acting in latter, read stories to each form in turn, from supper to bedtime, night after night, and occupied her holidays and week-end leave as guardian to girls unable to return to their parents, while still functioning as a highly capable and unfailingly accessible administrative Head.

Miss Prain’s retirement after 1958 was unusually active. From 1961 to 1968 she was Registrar of the new College of Speech and Drama in Anna Pavlova’s house in the North End Road and, hardly had she seemed to have finally retired, to Wenhaston, with her friend, the late Miss Bunch, than she was busily involved with the local Women’s Institute Committee, its meetings, suppers, jumble sales, bazaars, recitals and plays, again making costumes, including, once, 12 mortar boards.

A Memorial Service was held for Miss Prain at St Martin’s Church in Preston, on the morning of the Garden Party, which her brother and sister-in-law, Mr and Mrs Hunter Prain, attended, from Dunfermline, and her nephew and his wife, Mr and Mrs Proctor, from Devizs. Miss Beattie spoke about Miss Prain’s long services to PHC, their extent and quality; Old Girls read from her wise forewords to successive issues of the College Magazine; a favourite Old Girls’ hymn was sung: God be with you till we meet again (which then returned at our End of Year Assembly); the Choir sang Mozart’s Ave Verum; and Miss Palmer, its conductor, played us out of church with another piece familiar to Miss Prain’s girls: The Robbers’ March from Chu Chin Chow.

We thank the Rev. Mr Kenneth Martin, who took the service, Miss Beattie for her Address, Miss Palmer and the Choir, Mrs Jellard (Agnes Stephenson), Mrs Cole-Hamilton (Betty Baeza), Miss Diana Piggott, Mrs Long (Isobel Lewis), Mrs Prince (Susan Trollope) and Miss Susan Macklin for their readings, Mrs Jones (Maureen Neve) and Dr Anna for their flowers, and Mrs Revell and Miss Ferguson for providing us with a separate lunch on their busiest of days.

A commemorative Vyvyen Alice Prain Award has been announced for outstanding results at Common Entrance, which Mr Hunter Prain and Miss Prain’s girls have handsomely endowed.


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