New Hall School is a Catholic co-educational private boarding and day school in the village of Boreham near Chelmsford, Essex, England. It was founded in 1642 in the Low Countries, now Belgium, by sisters of the Catholic order Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre and moved to its current location, the former Tudor Palace of Beaulieu in Essex, in 1799. It is the only Catholic Independent school in the Brentwood diocese, and one of the oldest and largest in the country.[1]

New Hall School
New Hall School in 2014
The Avenue

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Coordinates51°45′47″N 0°30′45″E / 51.76307°N 0.51241°E / 51.76307; 0.51241
TypePublic school
Private school
Boarding school
Day School
MottoThe Best Start in Life
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
Established1642 (in Belgium)
1799 (current school)
Department for Education URN115387 Tables
Chair of GovernorsDr Miriam Edelsten
PrincipalKatherine Jeffrey
Age1 to 18
PublicationThe Beaulieu Bulletin
Former pupilsOld Fishes / New Hallians

The school operates the "diamond" model format. Up until the end of Year 6 and in the Sixth Form, the children are taught in co-educational classes. In years 7 to 11, students are taught in single sex classes. The school is a member of Catholic Independent Schools Conference and ISA, and the school principal is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

History edit

The school was founded in Liège, now part of Belgium in 1642 by Susan Hawley, who also formed the English Community of the Canonesses Regular of the Holy Sepulchre.[2] The founding Religious Order, the Canonesses Regular of the Holy Sepulchre, is one of the most ancient in the Church and was established in Europe long before the English Religious Community was founded in 1642. The school expanded considerably in size and scope from 1770 under the leadership of Mary Dennett.[3] The school began to offer a Catholic education to girls who were denied this in England in the Post-Protestant Reformation period and to girls from other countries too.[3] In 1794, the French Revolutionary Wars forced the nuns to leave the Low Countries. The school reopened on its present site in 1799.

In 1994, the Preparatory Divisions were re-established on the campus at New Hall. Opening with 40 pupils, the school grew rapidly over the following years. In 1995, the Preparatory Divisions welcomed its first boarders and the boarding programme was later extended to boys as well.

In 2001, New Hall appointed its first lay principal, Mrs Katherine Jeffrey. In April 2005, the administration made a landmark decision to go fully co-educational, ending over 360 years of single-sex education. The announcement was made that the Senior Divisions would be embarking on a period of further expansion, with the establishment of a separate Boys' Division (11–16) and a co-educational Sixth Form.[4] The Senior Divisions now accepts boys throughout the 11–18 age range and there are two boys' boarding houses fully established, in addition to the two girls' boarding houses.[5]

The move towards co-education using the "diamond model" has proved extremely successful. New Hall was commended by judges at the 2011 Independent School Awards for the "ambitious and pioneering move" and won the award for "outstanding strategic initiative".[6] In 2016 New Hall was voted TES Independent School of the Year.

The New Hall School Trust (NHST) was established as a new registered charity (1110286) and limited company in 2005. The principal objective of the NHST, as set out in the Memorandum and Articles, is ‘to advance the Roman Catholic religion by the conduct of a Roman Catholic School’. In 2012 New Hall was invited to become the first independent school in the country to sponsor a state primary school that was seeking to become an Academy under the new Government scheme. The new academy formally opened in September 2013, forming the New Hall Multi Academy Trust (NHMAT), a partnership between New Hall School and Messing Primary School.

Buildings edit

Sir Thomas Boleyn inherited New Hall from his father Sir William in the late 1400s and in 1517, the estate was acquired by King Henry VIII, who greatly enlarged and enhanced the building and called it Beaulieu. The Royal Arms of Henry VIII are now to be seen in the school Chapel. For many years the home of Mary Tudor, New Hall was subsequently granted to the Earl of Sussex by Queen Elizabeth I. Oliver Cromwell later procured the estate for 5 shillings.[7]

Having fallen into disrepair and been somewhat pillaged, the house was bought by a Dutch trader John Olmius in 1738 who refashioned the north wing as a self-contained house with a new entrance and bay windows, interior plasterwork and panelling. Under the reign of George III, he became the 1st Baron Waltham of Philpstown.

Houses edit

There are six vertical houses named after figures venerated in the Catholic church:

  • Acutis House
  • Augustine House
  • Bahkita House
  • Miki House
  • Romero House
  • Teresa House

The Preparatory Divisions Houses are named after the Four Evangelists, the saints who wrote the Four Gospels:

  • St Matthew (Red)
  • St Mark (Yellow)
  • St Luke (Green)
  • St John (Blue)

The Boarding Houses are named as follows:

Academic edit

New Hall has a strong academic record and regularly tops the exam results table for Essex county.[13][14][15] In the 2021 A Levels, it achieved a 97% pass rate at grades A*-B and 75% at A*/A. At GCSE, 79% of grades were 7+ (A*/A).

Specialist subject provision starts in the Preparatory Division with science, modern and classical languages and politics. New Hall has the largest politics department and the largest theology department of any school in the country;[citation needed] subjects such as psychology, business and economics are three of the 20+ options at A Level, while the Classics department offers both Latin and Greek at GCSE and A Level.

Pastoral care edit

Pupils are required to attend regular chapel services. Practising Catholic pupils may choose to actively participate in spiritual activities such as Bible studies and the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes. The school chapel runs weekly Sunday mass which is open to the public and serves the Parish of St Augustine of Canterbury, Springfield.[16] Pupils and staff often serve as musicians, choristers, altar servers, sacristans and readers.[1]

Co-curricular activities edit

Sport edit

Students compete at county, regional, national and international level in a wide range of sports and have met with success.[17][18][19] In recent years, there has been a significant investment in the sports facilities on campus. The first-class provision now includes: The Waltham Centre 25m 6-lane indoor swimming pool; a national standard athletics track and floodlit Astroturf; 10 floodlit tennis/netball courts; two sports halls; Parsons Hall dance studio; junior and senior cricket wickets and indoor training nets; hockey, rugby and football pitches. New Hall also has well-established links with a local riding school and a golf club.

The more popular sports are cricket, hockey, netball, rugby, and tennis. There is a wide variety of other sports, including aerobics & pilates, athletics, badminton, basketball, cross country, fencing, football, golf, equitation, swimming, volleyball and triathlon.

Performing arts edit

The music, dance and drama departments are in the Walkfares Performing Arts Centre. The school puts on performances from Shakespeare to modern plays and musicals.

All students are encouraged to participate in the English Speaking Board (ESB), Trinity or London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) programmes. Students take individual lessons in orchestral instruments, piano, singing, drums and electric guitars. Some students take lessons on the restored Norman & Beard organ in the chapel.

Performing groups include senior and junior choirs, chamber choirs, a chapel choir, a senior orchestra, a strings academy, wind bands, a guitar ensemble, and chamber groups. Students are also encouraged to form jazz and pop bands.

New Hall School Choir has performed at St. Peters, Rome, St. Marks, Venice, Westminster Cathedral, London as well as on BBC Television. The choir sings a range of music from sacred to secular, classic to modern.

The Dance Company was founded in September 2003. The company has taken part in a variety of events in and around Chelmsford and has an role in supporting the Dance Department within the School.

Each year the Senior School puts on a production just before Christmas. Productions have included Footloose, Shakespeare in Love, Oliver, Othello and West Side Story. Productions by the drama and theatre studies students have included Woyzeck, Waiting for Godot, Teechers, Arabian Nights and Grimm Tales.

The school has several performance spaces: the Eaton Theatre; two studios in Walkfares; Jubilee Hall; and the outdoors Walkfares Canopy.

Past headmistresses and principals edit

At Liege and then in England it can be assumed that the Prioress was also in charge of the school. At some unknown stage a First Mistress became a quasi-Headmistress in the school under the Prioress. The term headmistress was first used in 1942 and the term principal from 2005.

From Till Name
1942 1957 Sister Margaret Helen Terney
1957 1963 Sister Mary Ignatius Brown
1963 1986 Sister Mary Francis Wood
1986 1997 Sister Margaret Mary Horton
1997 2001 Sister Ann-Marie Brister
2001 Now Katherine Jeffrey

Former pupils edit

Former pupils are known as "Old Fishes" or "New Hallians". The term Old Fishes was used for former pupils from as early as 1799. At the time of Catholic persecution in mainland Europe, the founding Religious Community were forced to leave the Low Countries and to move to England. Whilst they were seeking a suitable venue in England, the nuns used the word "Fishes" as a code word for students and the term eventually stuck.[20]

Notable staff edit

Further reading edit

  • Fishy Tales: Living Memories of New Hall 1930-2012, The Canonesses of The Holy Sepulchre, 2012 ISBN 978 09574063 0 8
  • New Hall and its school: A true story of virtuous demeanour, Tony Tuckwell, Free Range Publishing 2006 ISBN 1-872979-02-5

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Catholic provision
  2. ^ "Hawley, Susan [name in religion Mary of the Conception] (1622–1706), Sepulchrine prioress". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/66982. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 14 February 2021. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b "Dennett, Mary [name in religion Christina] (1730–1781), prioress of the Holy Sepulchre, Liège". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/105821. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 27 February 2021. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ "Chelmsford: School to let in boys". The Echo. 4 May 2005.
  5. ^ About New Hall
  6. ^ "Top award for New Hall School's diamond success". Chelmsford Weekly News. 21 November 2011.
  7. ^ "History of New Hall and the School". Archived from the original on 11 March 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Earle Wing, Petre House". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Hawley". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Petre House". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Dennett House". Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Campion House". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  13. ^ "New Hall School celebrate record breaking A Level success". Chelmsford Weekly News. 15 August 2019.
  14. ^ "The Essex schools which were named among East Anglia's best". Gazette News. 11 December 2021.
  15. ^ "New Hall School, Chelmsford, celebrate record breaking GCSE success". Chelmsford Weekly News. 22 August 2019.
  16. ^ "New Hall School – Mid-Essex Deanery". Diocese of Brentwood.
  17. ^ "National award for channel swimming youngster". Chelmsford Weekly News. 23 February 2014.
  18. ^ "Students put in star turns on the slopes". Chelmsford Weekly News. 16 February 2017.
  19. ^ "New Hall pupils win gold medal". Essex Chronicle. 7 November 2019.
  20. ^ Old Fishes
  21. ^ "Writer/director Rose Glass: "women love messed up stuff."". Medium. 9 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Lowdown on Leicester Tigers' 'explosive' new signing Tomiwa Agbongbon". 27 November 2021.

External links edit