Boarding Life at PHC

Princess Helena College is an independent boarding and day school for girls and boys (boarding for girls only until September 2021) and we believe in the value of our boarding community for the whole School.

We have one Boarding House, shared by between forty and fifty boarders from years 7 – 13 and from a range of countries around the world. Boarding accommodation is on the first and second floors of the beautiful old manor house which forms the main PHC building. Formerly known as Temple Dinsley, the house is set in over a hundred acres of peaceful parkland, gardens, fields and woodland in the beautiful county of Hertfordshire, yet easily accessible to London by train and road, and with major airports (Heathrow, Stansted and Luton) no more than an hour’s drive away.

During term time we aim to create a supportive and relaxed homely environment in the House, where each student can develop and flourish at their own pace. The boarding staff team seeks to guide appropriately, set an example, using praise and encouragement liberally whilst upholding high expectations of behaviour.

We want every boarder to feel that they are an integral member of our boarding family community, their presence and contribution valued.

The Daily Routine

Boarders quickly fall into the pattern of daily life in the boarding house and welcome the consistent reliability of timings. Bells alert students to the main wake up and meal timings.

All boarders’ meals are served in the Dining Room, prepared by the school’s caterers. The food is of an excellent standard and variety and hygiene standards are of the highest level.

The boarders’ voice is important. Mrs Penberthy meets with the chefs each week to discuss our needs. If boarders have any particular requests they are encouraged to pass these on, either in the house or directly to the catering staff. All boarders with medical or religious needs for specific requirements are proficiently catered for.

We ensure that there is always a selection of supervised activities on offer for the boarders to do in their free time. There is a weekly schedule, displayed each week, of the organised activity offered each evening from 7.30pm. These tend to be creative or physical and the boarders are always welcome to suggest activities they would like. Examples last year included canvas and pottery painting, baking, basketball, dance, tie-dying, tennis, photography and film nights.

There is a regular schedule of outings, offering all boarders the opportunity to leave the school at least twice a week. We encourage all boarders to do so, to experience the wider world on a regular basis and discover all that the local area has to offer. As such we make some trips compulsory in order to ensure that boarders are exposed to a variety of cultural and adventurous events each week. The cost for all planned weekly trips is included in school fees.

Boarding Facilities

Boarders are allocated single, twin or shared rooms of four to six beds. In general, boarders share dorms in years 7, 8 and 9, then share a twin room or have a small single room in year 10. All boarders in years 11, 12 and 13 have single rooms. No rooms are ensuite, however ample toilet and washing facilities are located around the house.

There are three Common Rooms in the house:

  • the Senior Common Room (SCR) with sofas and a TV on the second floor, reserved for year 11 – 13 boarders only during boarding hours (and shared with 6th form day students during school break and lunch times);
  • the Junior Common Room (JCR) with sofas, table football, table tennis, snooker and lots of board games;
  • one smaller TV snug with sofas, a TV (including age-appropriate Netflix access) and Apple TV box.

In addition to this, boarders are able to make full use of the ground floor facilities during the evening and at weekends:

  • the IT room,
  • both libraries,
  • the Old Hall,
  • the music practice room,
  • the media classroom,
  • Drawing Room.

With permission, boarders are also able to access the Gym, the PA sports Hall and the Art classroom.

The vast majority of the school grounds are also a valuable space for the boarders to use during their free time. Playing tennis and rounders, dancing on the lawns, walking through the field and the woods, riding bikes, watching the ducks on the pond, picking apples in the orchard or snapping insta-worthy pics … the possibilities are endless, and boarders are encouraged to make the most of the space, freedom and safety offered here.

Kitchen with two windows

Students in the library reading


The school is part of United Learning. United Learning comprises: UCST (Registered in England No: 2780748. Charity No. 1016538) and ULT (Registered in England No. 4439859. An Exempt Charity). Companies limited by guarantee. VAT number 834 8515 12.
Registered address: United Learning, Worldwide House, Thorpe Wood, Peterborough, PE3 6SB. Tel: 01832 864 444

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