Heathfield School, Ascot
|Motto||The Merit of One is the Honour of All|
|Type||Independent boarding school|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Headmistress||Mrs Jo Heywood|
|Founder||Eleanor Beatrice Wyatt|
|Local authority||Bracknell Forest|
|DfE URN||110117 Tables|
|Former pupils||HOGS & SMOGS|
Heathfield School is a girls' independent boarding school in Ascot, Berkshire, England. In 2006, the school absorbed St Mary's School, Wantage and was briefly named Heathfield St Mary's School but reverted to Heathfield School in 2009 to prevent confusion with the nearby St Mary's School, Ascot, a Catholic boarding school for girls. It is one of two remaining full boarding girls' schools in the United Kingdom, the other being Benenden School in Kent, meaning all pupils board at the school full-time.
The school stands in 36 acres of grounds on the outskirts of Ascot and has done so since Heathfield School was founded in 1899 by Eleanor Beatrice Wyatt, its first headmistress. In 1882, at the age of 24, Miss Wyatt and her mother had opened Queen's Gate School in South Kensington, London.
Until this point Miss Wyatt had been concentrating on educating boys and girls from the lower-middle and lower classes; however, she was convinced that the best way to further education for all was to educate those who could in turn educate others. This coincided with Miss Wyatt’s desire to move out of a congested and claustrophobic London. The problem she faced was that, whilst wishing to move to a more spacious country location, she still wanted to maintain a proximity to London and the school’s active Old Girl network. In 1899 the solution was found in Ascot, Berkshire, and Heathfield School was founded in a beautiful Italianate building, the original home of the Paravacini family. On 8 May, the school was officially opened and the Chapel blessed.
St Mary's Wantage
The Reverend William John Butler became Vicar of Wantage on 1 January 1847. His main aims were, first, to revive the religious life in England and second, to improve education. He hoped to achieve these aims by setting up an order of teaching sisters, but he faced many disappointments and spent 25 years trying to improve various day schools in the parish before St Mary’s School was founded in 1873.
The school was run by the sisters of the Community of St. Mary the Virgin and was based in the Queen Anne house on Newbury Street. Sister Ellen was the first Sister-in-Charge and Sister Juliana succeeded her in 1887. Sister Juliana had studied at Cambridge and set a high standard for the girls, entering them for the Oxford and Cambridge local examinations.
Sister Annie Louisa joined the school in 1898 and started a guide movement called Scout Patrols in 1899 before Boy Scouts had even begun. She succeeded Sister Juliana as Headmistress in 1903. Sister Annie Louisa was responsible for the chief structural improvements at St Mary’s including a science wing and the conversion of an old barn into a gymnasium. By the time Sister Annie Louisa left in 1919, St Mary’s was recognised as a “public school with an unusually high standard of scholarship”.
The school is equipped with teaching, sporting and leisure facilities. Following the merger of Heathfield School and St Mary’s Wantage in 2006, a development plan was launched which delivered new facilities. Phase one of redevelopment, the enlargement of the main Library, and phase two, a new Cookery building and Performing Arts Centre, were completed in 2009. The Performing Arts Centre was officially opened in December 2009 as the St Mary's Theatre. The School focuses on keeping the classes small which helps focus on individual learning.
All girls are placed in one of the four houses upon entry. A Head of House looks after the girls and is the first point of contact for parents and girls on issues.
The boarding houses are separate from the house system. Instead, boarders are grouped into dormitories and boarding houses by years. A housemistress for each year and full-time residential staff reside on campus. Girls in Sixth Form live in a bungalow-style accommodation similar to that of a hall of residence to prepare them for university life.
Notable former pupils
- Alexandra Hamilton, Duchess of Abercorn
- Eileen Agar, surrealist artist
- Alexandra, Queen Consort of Yugoslavia
- Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe, model and socialite
- Marisa Berenson, actress, daughter of shipping executive Robert L. Berenson and Countess Maria Luisa Yvonne Radha de Wendt de Kerlor
- Isabella Blow, fashion editor
- Harriet Bridgeman, Viscountess Bridgeman, founder of Bridgeman Art Library
- Nina Campbell, interior designer
- Susannah Constantine, fashion advisor and author
- Davina Ingrams, 18th Baroness Darcy de Knayth
- Hon Victoria Glendinning, novelist and broadcaster
- Lucinda Green, three-day eventer
- Hon Daphne Guinness
- Phyllis Hartnoll, poet
- Judith Keppel, quiz panellist, first million-pound winner of Who wants to be a millionaire?
- Amber Le Bon, daughter of Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon and supermodel Yasmin Le Bon
- Tara Lee, yoga instructor
- Tiggy Legge-Bourke, nanny to Princes William and Harry
- Serena Armstrong-Jones, Viscountess Linley
- Candida Lycett Green, daughter of Sir John Betjeman, horsewoman and writer
- Susan Cunliffe-Lister, Baroness Masham of Ilton
- Tamara Mellon, CEO of Jimmy Choo
- Sienna Miller, actress
- Tessa Montgomery, Viscountess Montgomery of Alamein
- Emma Nicholson, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, politician
- HRH Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, cousin of The Queen
- Marina Ogilvy, daughter of Princess Alexandra
- Princess Olga of Greece
- Alice Orr-Ewing, actress
- Flora Fraser, 21st Lady Saltoun
- Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, daughter of the 11th Duke of Marlborough and interior designer
- Rosie Stancer (née Clayton), polar adventurer
- Tara Summers, actress
- Lady Helen Taylor
- Susan Travers, served with the French Foreign Legion
- Natalia Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster
- Dame Jane Whiteley
- Judith Wilcox, Baroness Wilcox
- Gabriella Wilde, actress
- School website
- Heathfield Old Girls
- St Mary's Wantage Old Girls
- ISI Inspection Reports
- Charity Commission Report
- Profile on Good Schools Guide
- Profile on MyDaughter
- Heathfield Conference Centre