Historic plans for Catholic school

THE OLDEST Catholic girls' school in the country is to make a break with its 363-year history by admitting boys.New Hall School, Chelmsford, which is set in the grounds of King Henry VIII's former Beaulieu Palace, is to go co-educational from September next year.

By Juliette Maxam

THE OLDEST Catholic girls' school in the country is to make a break with its 363-year history by admitting boys.

New Hall School, Chelmsford, which is set in the grounds of King Henry VIII's former Beaulieu Palace, is to go co-educational from September next year.

The decision was taken because the holy order that founded New Hall is vacating part of the main building, in the former Tudor palace, over the summer, freeing up more space for the top independent school.


You may also want to watch:


Following discussions with parents, it was decided the extra space offered a "unique opportunity" to open the school up to secondary-school age boys from 11 to 18-years.

However, girls at New Hall will still receive the benefits of a single-sex education, as the school is adopting a "diamond" model in which pupils are segregated from ages 11-16 for curriculum lessons and mixed for the sixth form.

Most Read

The first intake of boys at Year 7 and for the sixth form will start next September. The boys' division will be in the vacated convent so that the new pupils will be alongside but physically separate from the girls. There will also be a separate boarding house for boys.

In a letter to parents, the prioress of the Religious Community of Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, Sister Teresa Lenahan, headmistress Katherine Jeffrey and chair of governors Patrick Jennings said: "This will be a natural evolution for New Hall, and, whilst creating a co-educational environment, will preserve and build on our commitment to single-sex education."

Fifty years ago the school established a preparatory school, which already admits boys. Last September, the school launched a pre-reception for children aged three and over.

The letter said: "New Hall now educates over 730 pupils aged three to 18, the largest roll in its history.

"The success of the school in this period of change and development is of course due ultimately to the support, care, affection and prayers of the families that send their children here to be educated."

New Hall was founded in 1642 in Liege Belgium by an English order of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, offering a Catholic education for girls who were denied this in England in the post-reformation period.

In 1794 French revolutionaries forced the nuns to leave Belgium and the school was founded at Boreham in 1799.

The main building was the palace built for Anne Boleyn in 1517 by King Henry VIII.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus