Students and staff at New Hall School, Chelmsford, are enjoying a novel new way to explore the history of their school with the opening of a new ‘Heritage Room’ within the main school building.
The Heritage Room is largely the work of School Archivist, Mrs Stella Beer, a former teacher in the Preparatory Divisions at New Hall, who now works for the school in a voluntary capacity. The artefacts and displays in the room take visitors on a journey through history and the ownership of the building, through the Tudor period, when it was one of Henry VIII’s palaces, its foundation as a school by the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, to modern day. Mrs Beer’s ideas for the room were brought to life with donations of artefacts from former students and staff members of the school.
The school is entering its 376th year, having celebrated its Foundation Day on 8 October. Foundation Day is an annual highlight of the school calendar. The day begins with a Mass for Preparatory and Senior students. This year, the Mass started with a new addition: a dramatic and musical account of the history of the school and its founding community, The Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, performed by staff and students from the Drama and Music departments. In the afternoon, the popular and hotly-contested House Singing competition, for which the Senior students had been rehearsing for weeks, was a display of fantastic House spirit and camaraderie.
The school, which was founded by the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre in Liège, Belgium in 1642, was established at Henry VIII’s former Palace of Beaulieu, in Boreham, in 1799. In 2001, Katherine Jeffrey became the first lay Principal of the school. Though the community are no longer physically involved in the daily running of the school, their presence is still felt throughout and the Catholic ethos remains central to life at New Hall.