North Foreland Lodge

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North Foreland Lodge
North Foreland Lodge badge.gif
, ,
MottoLatin: Bene agere ac laetari
(To do good and be happy)
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England[1]
FounderMiss Mary B. Wolseley-Lewis[2]

North Foreland Lodge was an independent boarding school for girls in England, originally established at North Foreland in Kent. Displaced from there by the Second World War, in 1947 it settled at Sherfield Manor in Sherfield on Loddon, Hampshire, until its closure in 2003 shortly after being acquired by another school, Gordonstoun.

In 2004 Gordonstoun sold the school site to a group of schools called Gems Education, which converted it into a new mixed-sex independent school called Sherfield School.


The school was founded in 1909 at North Foreland, near Broadstairs in Kent, by Miss Mary Wolseley-Lewis, who at the time was the head of the Francis Holland School in Graham Street, Westminster, SW1. This event came as a shock to the Francis Holland School, especially when its departing head took several girls and members of staff with her.[2] Miss Wolseley-Lewis had herself been educated by Dorothea Beale at Cheltenham Ladies College.[3]

The Journal of Education reported on the opening of the school:[4]

A NEW school for girls is to be opened on the North Foreland in May. The soundness of the Church teaching is obviously guaranteed, no less by the appointment of Miss Wolseley-Lewis as Principal than by the three bishops who are among the patrons. The social position seems to be equally well secured by the fee of one hundred and fifty guineas together with the fact that, according to the advertisement, "references will, in all cases, be required".[4]

As a result of the Second World War, the school had to evacuate its premises in Kent, and it then had several temporary homes, including a hotel. After the War, in 1947, the school bought as a permanent home Sherfield Manor, which during the War had served as a military hospital, and continued to occupy it for more than fifty years, extending the buildings to more than 125,000 sq ft (11,600 m2).[5]

On 3 December 1981 Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who had been educated at North Foreland Lodge in the 1950s, opened the school's new music wing.[6]

By 1982 there were 160 girls, all of whom were boarders. The core curriculum consisted of English, French, mathematics, history, geography, biology, chemistry, physics, and religious knowledge. Other subjects taught included Latin, Italian, Russian, Spanish, classical studies, history of art, music, sociology, and computer studies. About half of the girls learnt a musical instrument, and the main school sports were lacrosse, gymnastics, tennis, netball, swimming, and rounders.[1] By 1989 overall numbers were up to 189, with fifty girls in the sixth form.[7]

In 1995, North Foreland Lodge was reported to be one of the few schools willing to accommodate pet rabbits. A charge of £2 per rabbit per term was made for sawdust and straw.[8]

In the year 2000, the school was in the news when it was revealed that J. K. Rowling had given permission for its girls to perform a dramatization of her Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,[9] and was in the news again two weeks later when Rowling changed her mind at the last minute, after realizing that this would be a world premiere.[10] Rowling arranged a personal visit to the school by way of apology. Headmistress Susan Cameron commented to The Times "We were over the moon when we got permission, so this was a real bolt from the blue, like the magic wand of an evil wizard."[10]

In 2002 the school was in financial difficulties, largely due to leading boys' schools becoming mixed and parents moving girls to them to take their A-Levels. Gordonstoun School, supported by some members of the school's own governing body, made a bid to acquire it, and the success of this bid was announced in March 2002, when it was revealed that a new mixed-sex prep school was to be built in the grounds of Sherfield Manor and that North Foreland would continue as a girls-only senior school.[11] A further announcement in The Times on 17 April 2002 stated that "The School is now one of The Gordonstoun Schools", adding that Nigel Havers would present the prizes at Carnival Day on 6 July.[12] However, a year after Gordonstoun had bought North Foreland Lodge for a figure reported to be £1 million, the school was closed, leading to allegations of asset stripping.[13] In January 2004 the school's site was sold to the Varkeys group for £6 million.[13]

In February 2004 a company named GEMS Education acquired the former school, re-opening it for business in September as Sherfield School, a co-educational day school for children of all ages.[5] In 2005 The Times reported that the new school had been planned to cater for 1,500 children but was failing to reach "critical mass", with the small numbers appearing forlorn.[13] A North Foreland Lodge Hundredth Anniversary drinks party was held in London on 5 March 2009.


  • 1909–1931: Miss Mary Wolseley-Lewis (born 1865, died 1955)[2][14]
  • 1943–1967: Miss Fenella M. Gammell[15][16]
  • 1967–1983: Miss Dorothea Rosemary Katharine Irvine MA (Oxon.), (born 1922, known as Rosemary Irvine)[1][17]
  • 1983–1996: Miss Diana Matthews[18][19]
  • 1996–2002: Susan Ruth Cameron[20]

Notable former pupils[edit]

Princess Katherine of Greece and Denmark
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark


  1. ^ a b c David Freeman, ed., Choosing the right school: a parents guide (1983), p. 82
  2. ^ a b c Gillian Avery, The Best Type of Girl: a history of girls' independent schools (André Deutsch, 1991), pp. 77 & 147
  3. ^ Marie Todd, Diary of a Victorian miss on holiday (Hallamshire Press, 1992), p. 37
  4. ^ a b Journal of Education, vol. 31 (Oxford University Press, 1909), p. 176
  5. ^ a b Richard Garfield, Noble and rich history of Sherfield Manor dated 26 March 2009 at, accessed 20 May 2012
  6. ^ 'Court Circular' in The Times (London), issue 61099 dated December 4, 1981, p. 12
  7. ^ 'North Foreland Lodge' in The Times (London), issue 63562 dated November 27, 1989, p. 35
  8. ^ Jessica Gorst-Williams, 'Tuck box, gym kit, ferret', in The Times (London), issue 65183 dated February 6, 1995, p. 37
  9. ^ David Charter, Education Correspondent, 'Girl takes the first spell as Harry Potter' in The Times (London), dated October 7, 2000, p. 15.
  10. ^ a b David Charter, 'Rowling to visit school after banning its Potter play' in The Times (London) dated October 25, 2000, p. 9. (The Goat Pen Archives).
  11. ^ Glen Owen, Education Correspondent, 'Prince old school gains foothold in the South' in The Times (London) dated March 15, 2002, p. 7
  12. ^ 'School news' in The Times (London), issue 67427 dated April 17, 2002, p. 33
  13. ^ a b c Wendy Wallace, 'Independents' Day' in The Times (London), issue 68291 dated January 22, 2005, pp. 30-31
  14. ^ ‘WOLSELEY-LEWIS, Mary’, in Who Was Who (A. & C. Black, 1920–2008); online edition (subscription required) by Oxford University Press, December 2007, accessed 20 May 2012
  15. ^ The Education Authorities Directory and Annual 1964 (School Government Pub. Co. 1964), p. 239: "Sherfield-on-Loddon, North Foreland Lodge (Girls), Miss F. M. Gammell"
  16. ^ Anne Huxley, Looking out of the Window (autobiography, 1981)
  17. ^ Burke's genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry (Burke's Peerage, 1970, 18th edition), p. 337
  18. ^ Whitaker's Almanack 1989 (J. Whitaker & Sons, 1989), p. 482: "North Foreland Lodge... D. Matthews (1983)"
  19. ^ 'North Foreland Lodge' in The Times (London), issue 65189 dated February 13, 1995, p. 38
  20. ^ ‘CAMERON, Susan Ruth’, in Who's Who 2012 (London: A. & C. Black, 2012)
  21. ^ 'Limerick, Dowager Countess of (born 27 Aug. 1897, died 25 April 1981)' in Who Was Who (A. & C. Black, 1920–2008); online edition by Oxford University Press, accessed 20 May 2012
  22. ^ ‘ASKWITH, Hon. Betty Ellen’, in Who Was Who (A. & C. Black, 1920–2008); online edition by Oxford University Press, accessed 20 May 2012
  23. ^ Anne Commire, Deborah Klezmer, eds., Women in world history: a biographical encyclopedia (Yorkin Publications, 2000), p. 758
  24. ^ 'Elizabeth Montagu' (obituary) in The Times (London), issue 68620 dated February 10, 2006, p. 69
  25. ^ Althea Wynne (obituary) from The Daily Telegraph online at, accessed 20 May 2012
  26. ^ The Illustrated London News, vol. 227, Issue 2 (1955), p. 552: "Princess Margrethe, who is fifteen and is heir presumptive to the Danish throne, is to study for a year in England at North Foreland Lodge, a girls' boarding school near Basingstoke, in Hampshire..."
  27. ^ 'Queen Margrethe II of Denmark' in Current Biography Yearbook, vol, 33 (H. W. Wilson Company, 1972), p. 306
  28. ^ ‘BOWEN, Janet Margaret’, in Who's Who 2012 (London: A. & C. Black, 2012)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°18′32″N 1°1′26″W / 51.30889°N 1.02389°W / 51.30889; -1.02389