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HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to be the Patron of St Catherine’s School, Bramley

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has graciously agreed to be the Patron of St Catherine’s School, Bramley

The Headmistresses and Governors of St Catherine’s School, Bramley, are delighted to announce that HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has graciously agreed to be Patron of the School. Peter Martin, Chairman of Governors said: ‘The Governors very warmly welcome this patronage – made all the more special because of the family links that The Duchess of Cornwall has with St Catherine’s’.

Her Royal Highness’s great-great grandfather, George Cubitt, ennobled in 1892 as the first Baron Ashcombe, was one of the founding benefactors of St Catherine’s in 1885. George Cubitt was the first MP for the constituency of Epsom, and had previously been MP for West Surrey since 1860.

The Duchess visited St Catherine’s in February 2014 when she officially opened the 125th Anniversary Halls sports and performing arts complex and the Speech Hall Library, a dedicated area for Sixth Form study. Head of the Prep. School, Naomi Bartholomew, recalled that, ‘Our archivist, alumna Rosemary Christophers, and her husband Richard, wrote to Her Royal Highness about the Ashcombe connection. She was keen to learn more about her great-great grandfather’s interest and involvement in girls’ education and accepted our invitation to visit.’

Alice Phillips, Headmistress of the Senior School commented: ‘Thanks to the vision and determination of 19th century benefactors such as Baron Ashcombe, girls were first able to take advantage of formal education. We hope he would be proud of today’s St Catherine’s and particularly pleased that his name is mentioned daily and he is known to generations of alumnae because one of our six senior school houses bears his name.’

Naomi Bartholomew noted: ‘The Duchess was very encouraging to the girls as she toured the School and chatted to many of them. Prep School girls were so excited to meet her, but equally I was very amused to spot the senior girls with their noses pressed to the windows as she arrived!

Both Heads agreed that the visit provided a perfect opportunity to demonstrate St Catherine’s academic and extra-curricular provision and facilities but, even more importantly, it allowed the girls to share their obvious enthusiasm for school life. Her Royal Highness talked to the girls about Shakespeare, as it happened to be the week they were performing Hamlet as the major Senior School production and obviously enjoyed the Prep School girls’ exuberant rendition of ‘Jubilate’ which captured the atmosphere of the whole day.

The Duchess’s great–great grandmother, Lady Laura, was also a great supporter of the School and her personal gift built the ‘Sanatorium’, where pupils could be cared for during times of serious contagious illnesses – now, thankfully, very much a thing of the past.
Alice Phillips added, ‘It was very appropriate that The Duchess’s final stop on her visit was to admire the impressive stained glass window in the School Chapel, dedicated to St Cecilia, the Patron Saint of Music, and commissioned by the 1st Baron in memory of his wife who died in 1904. Her Royal Highness remarked on the fact that her great-great grandfather had obviously maintained a keen interest in St Catherine’s many years after it was founded.’

The whole School community is thrilled that the Ashcombe family connection will continue through our association with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall as our Patron and we look forward to keeping her updated with news of all our activities.

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