St Leonards-Mayfield School
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|Motto||"Actions Not Words"|
|Type||Independent day and boarding school|
|Headmistress||Miss A M Beary, MA MPhil Cantab, PGCE|
|Founder||Mother Cornelia Connelly SHCJ (1809–1870)|
|Location||The Old Palace
|DfE URN||114627 Tables|
|Colours||Light Blue, Navy Blue|
|Former pupils||Old Cornelians|
St Leonards-Mayfield School is an independent Roman Catholic boarding and day school for girls aged 11 to 18. It is situated in the village of Mayfield in East Sussex. The current headmistress is Miss Antonia Beary. The school was founded by Mother Cornelia Connelly in 1872, with the oldest buildings dating from the 14th century.
St Leonards-Mayfield has its origins in the Convent of the Holy Child Jesus school at St Leonards-on-Sea. Mother Cornelia Connelly of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus chanced upon the Old Palace at the idyllic village of Mayfield. At that time Louisa Caton, the Duchess of Leeds (widow of Francis D'Arcy-Osborne, 7th Duke of Leeds) had requested Mother Connelly to take her in as a nun. Despite her efforts Mother Connelly remained unimpressed. The Duchess then turned her attention to setting up orphanages. She purchased the Mayfield estate which included the Old Palace and presented it to the Society. On the morning of 18 November 1863 Mass was celebrated at Mayfield for the first time since the mid-16th century. The original school at St Leonards and the new school at Mayfield merged in 1953 to form the current school. The junior school was closed in 1975 and St Leonards-Mayfield thus became solely a senior school. The teachers are mostly lay staff but the nuns still maintain a strong presence as members of the Board of Governors and pastoral care staff.
The Old Palace was originally a holiday residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury during the 14th and 15th centuries. During the Reformation, it was handed over to King Henry VIII who gave it to several leading noblemen of his day. Thomas Gresham lived there and Queen Elizabeth I was among his guests at the Old Palace. It was bought by the Baker family, a prominent family in the iron foundry industry. As the iron industry began to decline, so did the family's fortunes. The Old Palace became derelict and abandoned by the mid 18th century. It has since been designated a Grade I listed building.
Pupils at Mayfield achieve some of the best examination results in the United Kingdom and each year take up university places at a wide range of leading institutions.
Location and facilities
The school is located within the village of Mayfield, less than 40 miles from the centre of London. At the heart of the school are the 14th century chapel built for the Archbishops of Canterbury and a concert hall designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The sports facilities include a new all-weather pitch, eight new all-weather tennis and netball courts, an indoor swimming pool and one of the largest outdoor riding arenas in the South East of England. The creative and performing arts are served by a music school, ceramics and arts studios and a dance hall. There is also a purpose built science block.
There are three boarding houses at the school: Leeds House (named after the Duchess of Leeds who donated the Old Palace to the SHCJ), Connelly House (formerly known as St Gabriels) and St Dunstans House providing boarding accommodation in individual rooms for the Sixth Form.
Links with other Holy Child schools
The Society of the Holy Child Jesus still runs a network of schools across its three provinces: Europe, Africa and America.
Mayfield actively maintains and strengthens links with other Holy Child Schools. In 2010 children from the Cornelia Connelly School in Anaheim, California visited Mayfield and the headmistress visited Holy Child College in Ikoyi, Nigeria.
Former pupils of Mayfield and her sister Holy Child Schools which are now closed are known as Old Cornelians, named after Mother Cornelia Connelly who founded the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
Notable Old Cornelians:
- Anouk Aimée
- Lindka Cierach
- Ann Leslie
- Clare McLaren-Throckmorton
- Maeve Gilmore
- Caroline Goodall
- Ira von Fürstenberg
- Thérèse Vanier
- "East Sussex Record Office - Convent of the Holy Child Jesus, Magdalen Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, school diaries". National Archives.
- Wake, Jehanne (2011). Sisters of Fortune: The First American Heiresses to Take Europe by Storm. Random House. p. 337. ISBN 9780099428626.
- History of the school
- "The Old Palace (The Convent of the Holy Child Jesus, St Leonard's Mayfield School), Mayfield and Five Ashes". British Listed Buildings.
- Department for Education Retrieved 2011-09-22