A History of Queenswood

Since 1894, Queenswood has been providing truly progressive education to generations of young women.

You can get an overview the School’s history and heritage by exploring our interactive timeline below. For more in-depth information, we recommend this article by Queenswood’s former archivist, Dr Wendy Bird, and the book In Hortis Reginæ by Nigel Watson.


  • Governesses' Benevolent Association founded, marking a turning-point in the development of women's education.
  • John Ruskin delivers his lecture 'Of Queens' Gardens'.

  • Cambridge University local examinations opened to girls.
  • Oxford University local examinations opened to girls.
    Educational Home for the Daughters of Wesleyan Ministers, later transferred to Clapham and renamed Queenswood, opens in Clapton.
  • The original Queenswood closes.
  • Queenswood opens on 23 September with Miss Marion Waller as Headmistress.

  • Miss Waller resigns and Miss Ethel Mary Trew is appointed Headmistress.

  • Lawsuit fails to prevent Queenswood girls from practising music.
  • Girls taken to see Edward VIl's Coronation Procession
  • Queenswood recognised as a secondary school under the terms of the 1902 Education Act.
  • First Old Queenswoodian enters Cambridge.
  • School Certificate introduced. Queenswood evacuated to Swanwick on 19 October due to threat of bombing.
  • Staff Nurse Evelyn Johnson OQ awarded Military Medal. First Old Queenswoodian enters Oxford. Queenswood returns to Clapham.
  • Ernest Read appointed music director.

  • Sir Josiah Stamp joins board of governors.
  • Queenswood moves from Clapham to Hatfield.

  • Queenswood's new premises officially opened 15 June. Harold Bellman joins board of governors. Sanatorium built. First visit abroad by a party of girls who travel to France.
  • Chapel built.

  • Enid Essame joins staff.
  • Senior House and gymnasium built.

  • House system introduced.
  • Preparatory department opened at Mymwood. Dr Marguerite Kettle becomes first OQ to join board of governors.
  • Swimming-bath built.

  • Staff House built. Ruth Schofield becomes the first OQ to be called to the Bar.
  • Stamp House built. First edition of Queenswoodian published.
  • The Great Fire occurs on 20 February.

Pathé news report on the fire at Queenswood, 1936

  • Queen Mary visits the school.

  • Second World War starts.
  • First air raid over Queenswood. First one-thousand-pound bomb to be dropped over England lands on Queenswood's hockey field in October. Queenswood adopts two British minesweepers.
  • Lord Stamp killed in air raid.
  • Girls' Training Corps established (disbanded 1945).
  • Miss Essame becomes headmistress but Miss Trew remains as Principal. The Council for World Citizenship holds World Conference at Queenswood.
  • The Butler Education Act sets the pattern for state education in the post-war period. Miss Trew retires.

Silver Jubilee Celebrations. The fiftieth anniversary of Queenswood's Foundation was delayed until 1946 due to the Second World War.

  • Queenswood wins Aberdare Cup for tennis for first time.

Garden Party at Queenswood, 1948. Including footage of legendary Director of Music Ernest Read and a medieval pageant on Trew Lawn.

Rare colour footage of Queenswood's gardens on Commemoration Day (now known as Speech Day) 1948.

  • Ernest Read Orchestral Course held at Queenswood for first time.

Life at Queenswood, 1949. Could this be the first official promotional film for Queenswood School? A mixture of monochrome and colour 16mm footage captures the daily routine.

16mm footage of Queenswood competing against Sutton High at Wimbledon in the final of the Aberdare Cup, 1949.

  • Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visits the school.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother at Queenswood, 1955.

  • New science block and new Bellman Library opened.

  • Essame Studios and Wates Pavilion opened.

  • Miss Essame retires and Miss Ritchie succeeds her as headmistress. Palaestra (Sports Hall) opened.

  • New sanatorium opened. Winifred Turner Scholarship started.
  • Miss Ritchie resigns and is succeeded by Mrs Butler.
  • Resident chaplain appointed for first time.
  • Mymwood closed.
  • Belling Centre and Sixth Form Centre opened. Sixteen all-weather surface tennis courts opened by Virginia Wade. School council elected at request of girls. Self-service cafeteria introduced.

  • Eaves conversion completed.
  • Audrey Butler Centre opened.

  • Leach Centre opened.
  • Queenswood hosts Methodist Synod.
  • Centenary celebrations at the Barbican.

Centenary video, 1994

  • Ms Clarissa Farr replaces Mrs Butler as Principal.
  • Bellman Library is renovated and opened by the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion.
  • New swimming pool opens.

  • The Clarissa Farr Theatre is opened by actress Helen McCrory OQ. Mrs Pauline Edgar replaces Ms Farr as Principal.

  • Haute Quisine Cookery Suite opened by chef Gary Rhodes OBE.

  • Conversion of Stamp House to Lower School boarding accommodation.
  • Ed Sautter MA is appointed Chair of Governors.
  • 120th anniversary celebrations at the Barbican.

This video celebrating 120 years of performance at Queenswood was produced for the Barbican gala performance, 2014

  • Mrs Jo Cameron replaces Mrs Edgar as Principal.
  • Bellman House becomes Sixth Form Centre. Library is transferred to the former Swimming Pool.

  • The library is named The Pauline Edgar Library. The Queenswood Hall is completed. The four physical Houses are consolidated into one refurbished Middle School boarding facility, named Centre. The Personalised Learning Hub opens.

  • James de Sausmarez BA FCIS is appointed Chair of Governors.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic causes a series of national lockdowns. Queenswood rapidly becomes a pioneer of remote learning, and is awarded a Pearson National Teaching Award for Digital Education in 2021.

Members of the Senior Leadership Team discuss Queenswood’s Remote Learning programme in this video from 2020.

  • Bellman Sixth Form Centre is radically renovated. The Sixth Form flat experience is launched.