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James Allen's Girls' School is an independent day school situated in Dulwich, South London, England. It has a senior school for 11- to 18-year-old girls, a prep school for 7- to 11-year-old girls (James Allen's Preparatory School), and a pre-preparatory school for 4- to 7-year-old girls. It is the sister school of Dulwich College and Alleyn's.

James Allen's Girls' School
James Allen's Girls' School.svg
144 East Dulwich Grove,

Coordinates51°27′17″N 0°05′07″W / 51.45469°N 0.085366°W / 51.45469; -0.085366Coordinates: 51°27′17″N 0°05′07″W / 51.45469°N 0.085366°W / 51.45469; -0.085366
TypeIndependent day school
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
FounderJames Allen Warden and later Master of The College of God's Gift in Dulwich
Department for Education URN100863 Tables
Chair of the Governing BoardMrs Frances Read
HeadmistressSally-Anne Huang
Age4 to 18
Enrolment1000 (approx.)
Colour(s)Red and blue          
AffiliationAlleyn's College of God's Gift

In 1604 the hamlet of Dulwich, its name recorded well before the Norman Conquests, was bought by the Elizabethan actor and entrepreneur, Edward Alleyn, for £4,900. Fourteen years later, Alleyn invested his fortune establishing Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift, buying land for a school, a chapel and the alms houses in Dulwich.

The JAGS connection came soon after. In 1621 Alleyn’s diary states that he dined with Sheriff Allen, and it was the sheriff’s great-grandson James Allen who was the founder of the school. James Allen whose distinguished portrait bears the inscription ‘skilful as a skaitor: a jumper, athletic and humane’ was visionary. Allen (Master of Dulwich College from 1723) founded the original Reading School which opened in June 1741 for poor children, both boys and girls living in Dulwich.

The Dulwich Reading School started in two rooms in the Bricklayer’s Arms, later called The French Horn in Dulwich Village. The boys were taught to read as preparation for entry to Dulwich College and the girls to read and sew.

By the 1800s it was known as the Dulwich Free School. Classes were growing in size and moved into an empty old inn building near the village crossroads and was renamed the Dulwich Free School. By the middle of the century it became The Dulwich Girls’ School with mostly local girls as pupils. It was housed in the building now inhabited by Dulwich Hamlet School.

The school continued to grow and when the College was reorganised in the 1840s, the boys were moved, leaving the Free School with improved teaching for the girls from 1842. The school became known as James Allen’s Girls’ School in 1878 and finally moved with 141 pupils to its present site in East Dulwich Grove in 1886 with Miss Bettany as its first Headmistress.

Botany Gardens were created in the school grounds soon after Dr Lilian Clarke joined the staff in 1895. It was the first such experiment by a school in this country. In 1902 the first school laboratory equipped solely for botanical study was opened. She was a pioneer and influential in science teaching nationally. In 1890 the school roll had grown to 200 and the curriculum expanded.

Sports Mistress Mildred Knott was appointed in 1921; she was an excellent hockey player who became captain of the England hockey team.

The school was evacuated at the beginning of the war to Walthamstow Hall in Sevenoaks, Kent but in May 1940 returned to Dulwich.

In the 1950s and 60s JAGS expanded and community work was popular. Under Miss Prissian a new theatre was opened by Jonathan Miller in 1983; the first girls’ school to have a purpose built theatre. The 1990s saw a great deal of building work in the school, Community Action was developed and links with local state schools were established. A new community Music Centre was officially opened in 2018. The Vaughan Williams Auditorium was named after the composer who worked at the school as a singing master. He introduced his friend Gustav Holst as music teacher in 1904 who worked for 16 years at JAGS. Holst collaborated on Tennyson’s Songs from the Princess whilst at JAGS. He stopped teaching there in 1920 but maintained a close connection with the school. Choral music and singing developed into a core part of school life. Holst wrote various works for the school including Tennyson’s Songs from the Princess. By 1916 a school orchestra emerged for the first time and in 1920 JAGS girls participated in Holst’s 4th Thaxted Festival in Suffolk as a farewell to the composer. A series of stained glass windows was installed in 1969 in the Holst Hall.

Notable former pupilsEdit


  1. ^ British Olympic Association > Athletes > Shani Anderson
  2. ^ "Lisa St. Aubin de Terán". Retrieved 19 February 2011.

External linksEdit