When I first joined Heathfield in 2005 as PA to the Headmistress, I quickly realised that the school has a long and interesting history and I was keen to learn as much about it as I could. Tucked away in the Headmistress’s study was a large pile of old school magazines dating back to 1899 when Heathfield first moved to its present Ascot site. Over the next few months I eagerly read every page of those early magazines, learning with delight of Heathfield girls knitting socks for soldiers in the trenches during the First World War, of outings by pony and trap, of whole-school picnics at Burnham Beeches, of visits to orphanages and coal-mines and theatres, of early school plays attended by local dignitaries, of new classrooms being opened and blessed with prayer, of Royal visitors, of how girls carried on with studies through the air raids of World War II, of motoring holidays with the school’s first Headmistress, of money raised for many worthy charitable causes, of engagements, marriages, births and deaths…
The magazines are obviously very old and fragile now, and it has not been possible to make them available for everyone to read through them. But I so wanted everyone to be able to know what I know about our wonderful school, to understand its past and to be conscious of the part we play in its present and future.
On a visit to another school a few years ago, I met someone who worked for a digital archive company (I hadn’t known that such companies existed) who talked about what can be done to make it possible for anyone to read and enjoy these fragile magazines. He visited me at Heathfield and gave me a demonstration, and I knew that I had found the perfect way of sharing Heathfield’s history with you all. This became my pet project. But we then had to address the thorny subject of cost, and it took a little while to persuade the then Bursar to give me a small budget. In addition, I was most grateful when the Heathfield Fellowship also chipped in with a donation. We were off!
The archiving company took temporary possession of our precious magazines and began putting together this wonderful computerised archive that you can now see and enjoy. Over time as funds become available I hope to be able to add other decades of magazines, and other archive material too such as old photographs.
For now, please enjoy reading through the history of Heathfield School. The magazines contain poems and stories written by the girls, details of sports matches, school trips, exam results, roll calls of pupils, and other interesting events in the life of the school. I am pleased and proud to share it all with you.
PA to the Headmistress
Please click here for the Heathfield School Digital Archives.