History of Queen’s Gate

Queen’s Gate School was founded in 1891, by Miss Eleanor Beatrice Wyatt in her parents’ home in nearby Stanhope Gardens. The following year, she moved the School to 132 Queen’s Gate, where she continued as Principal until 1899.

Miss Anabel Douglas, the School’s second Principal, came to the UK as a young American student. She took the lease of 133 Queen’s Gate and continued the School in the two houses. It was to Miss Douglas that the School magazine owed its origin and it is in the annual school magazine that we can so clearly trace our school’s history.

From an academic point of view, the emphasis in the early years of the School was on cultural aspects of the curriculum, such as French and History of Art. Miss Douglas’s North American connections brought many pupils from across the Atlantic to board at Queen’s Gate, and there were girls from America, Canada, Spain, Ireland and Scotland, making a most cosmopolitan household at 133.

From the beginning of the century some girls took public examinations and, in 1902, passed the Higher Local Examinations in Arithmetic, French and English Literature. In 1903, the first Queen’s Gate student entered university and continued her education at Newnham College, Cambridge.

Exercise played an important part in the curriculum. Hockey was introduced in 1905, played on Mondays in Battersea Park and the girls received challenges to play other schools, but after six years of hockey, it was substituted by Lacrosse, which was played until quite recently.

Miss Douglas took a great interest in the position of women in the new century and she was insistent that Queen’s Gate girls should be articulate. In 1902, the Debating Society was formed and still today, the value of House Debating is acknowledged by us all.

Not only fine words, but good deeds characterised the girls of the School in the early part of the century. There are records of money being raised for the poor, in company with the church works of St Margaret’s Westminster, as well as money being raised to help needy retired members of the School’s domestic staff.

Miss Spalding succeeded Miss Douglas as Principal in 1919 and enlarged the school by the purchase of No. 131, mainly for the use of the Junior School. A Science laboratory was equipped, and the School was inspected for the first time and recognised as efficient by the Board of Education inspectors in 1921. We still continue to develop our Science Laboratories.

At the start of the Second World War, Miss Willis, Headmistress of Downe House School, Berkshire, invited Miss Spalding to take her girls to Downe in September 1939, for the duration of the war.

Back in London, the basements of all three houses and the first floors of 131 and 132 were taken over by the London Auxiliary Fire Brigade as dormitories for both men and women. They had hose drill in the mews and the Sub-Commander of the Women’s Section in 131 was a Queen’s Gate girl.

The School reopened for the Autumn Term in September 1945, after six years in the country, and here it has remained.

Mrs Johnston succeeded Miss Spalding as Principal in 1951, after the celebration for the school Diamond Jubilee. She introduced A-Levels and inaugurated the House system for the Senior School in 1954.

Mrs Sée was appointed to succeed Mrs Johnston in 1961. She continued to develop the academic curriculum and introduced Chemistry, Biology, Economics and History of Art at A Level.

Mrs Newnham led the School between 1971 and 1987. In 1977 the Parents’ Association was formed, and in 1978 the first joint Carol Service was held at St. Augustine’s church. In 1985 a major change in the life of Queen’s Gate pupils occurred when boarding ceased to exist.

Mrs Angela Holyoak succeeded Mrs Newnman as Principal in 1987. Having previously been Head of the Junior School for seven years, she was well-versed in the School’s rich history and traditions. In 1989 she increased the size of the school from a one to two stream entry. With increasing numbers and an on-going reputation for excellent pastoral care, the school flourished.

Before Mrs Holyoak left in 2006, the School bought 125 & 126 Queen’s Gate, allowing for a move to a separate Junior School site with Senior School laboratories in the basement. The space released in 131 allowed for the development of a Sixth Form Centre and enhanced teaching facilities, creating a springboard for the future.

SOURCES: Mrs Newnham’s Forward to the Log 1981; E. De Leeuw ‘Queen’s Gate An Unschooly School’ 2007