News from the PHC Archives: Part Three

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This year Princess Helena College celebrates its bi-centennial anniversary, we started the celebrations in February with a fantastic ‘Evening of Dance’ which was attended by our President, HRH The Duchess of Gloucester.

Due to Covid-19, we have been forced to postpone our ‘Day of Celebration’ which was scheduled to take place on Saturday 27 June. We are committed to celebrating the wonderful history of PHC and its community and we shall seek an alternative date later in the year for us to have some form of celebration.  

This week, we’ve looked back through the archives to see how our 175th anniversary was celebrated in 1975. There was a Service of Celebration held at Westminster Abbey on 23 June 1975, followed by a garden party at PHC on 24 June 1975. Two students provided an account of each day for the school magazine…

                                                                            Front cover of school magazine from 1995

The Service of Celebration 
Susannah Broome (Year 10)

The 23rd of June was a unique and exciting day in the life of Princess Helena College – the day we were to celebrate our 175th Anniversary at Westminster Abbey.

When those of us participating in the service arrived at the Abbey, the morning light was filtering through the stained-glass windows – a beautiful sight. There was already great activity and organisation taking place. We began to rehearse as soon as we arrived. From where we stood on the altar steps, the whole length of the Abbey was visible. The thought that almost forty generations of royalty had been crowned there made me feel nervous, as did the knowledge that I was about to sing in front of hundreds of people.

The congregation began to arrive: parents, friends, Governors, Old Girls, current pupils and staff. The sight of people greeting others they had not seen for years was a happy one. The only damper on the day was the news that HRH Princess Alice was, unfortunately, not well enough to attend.

The choir began by singing “O Taste and See” with Julia Chapple’s beautiful solo seeming to fill every corner of the Abbey. I think we performed to the very best of our ability and were thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful service, which included readings and prayers by The Headmaster, The Chairman of Governors and several pupils, and an address by Miss Beattie.

The day made us all think about the past but also about the future. I felt proud to be a pupil at a school which has existed for 175 years and to be celebrating that anniversary with so many people connected to the college. I very much look forward to returning to celebrate the 200th anniversary.

                                                                  inside page from school magazine


                                                                  Inside page from school magazine with photos of students at westminister abbey

Speech Day and Garden Party
Helen Williams (Year 10)

We were woken at eight o’clock by the school bell. We all looked out to see grey skies and the chairs on the sunken lawn blown over. We looked at each other in despair; maybe the sun will come out by lunchtime someone said.

I put on my ironed skirt and polished shoes. By ten o’clock, everyone was ready to go into the Princess Alice Hall, where there were already large numbers of people, including parents and Old Girls.

Just in front of where we were sitting was the beautiful 175th Anniversary cake made to resemble the front of the school building. It had been made by Jane Asher, who was also our guest speaker.

                                                    Cake resembling the front of the school buidling

Mrs Laing, Chairman of the Governors, spoke first about improvements made to the school over recent years, and Mr Jarvis spoke about events of the last year. Jane Asher talked in an amusing way about her busy life and how she manages to cope with a family along with all her business interests and an acting career. She was thanked by retiring Head Girl, Letitia Bow, who also talked about the memories she will take away with her of PHC.

Prize-giving followed, with academic and sports awards as well as some for drama, after which Miss Beattie cut the cake.

At lunchtime, after a picnic with my parents, I had to get ready for a performance, with several other girls, of songs from “My Fair Lady”. It seemed to go down well with our audience.

During the afternoon there was a diving competition which York won, dance displays on the sunken lawn; and drama – a very funny play called “Hidden Meanings”, performed this year in the PA Hall. There was also performances by the Jazz Band, the Flute Ensemble, the Recorder Consort and the Wind Ensemble. With all these difference activities, it was possible for almost every girl to participate in some way. 

Tea, including delicious strawberries and cream, was served in the English Room and the Library, and, for the Old Girls in a marquee on the lawn behind the Rose Garden. It was, unfortunately, too chilly to have tables and chairs outside this year. Despite the weather the Garden Party was a great success.

                                                                         Page from school magazine


                                                                         picture and text from school magazine in 1995

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News from the PHC Archive: Part Two

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News from the PHC Archives: Part Four


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