Kent College celebrates 125 years of outstanding education for girls

Kent College Pembury looks forward to celebrating its 125th Birthday on Thursday 22nd September 2011, going back to its 1886 routes with the entire school dressing in Victorian costume for the day. Victorian themed lessons will be held throughout the day and a special celebration will take place during the afternoon of the 22nd at the school’s original home in Folkestone. 

Headmistress Sally-Anne Huang and the school’s newest Year 7 students will travel down to The Grand in Folkestone for a reunion tea, meeting with Kent College’s longest surviving Old Girls in order to celebrate the school’s life and achievements over the last 125 years.

Kent College Pembury was originally established in Bouverie Road, Folkestone and spent its first 53 years here after the school was established by the Wesleyan Methodist School Association.  It survived the First World War by the coast and heroically remained one of a handful of schools who stayed open throughout the War.  However as World War Two approached, the decision was made that the school should re-locate.  After a brief move to Cornwall, the school set its sights on the beautiful, rural location of Hawkwell Place at Pembury, described by Miss Walker, Headmistress of the time as being a “perfectly beautiful home for the school where they would be able to carry on, come what may, in happiness and safety.”

Hawkwell Place had been built 60 years earlier on the site of the former Church Farm, later known as Spring Grove.  In 1887 the poet Browning’s son was married at Hawkwell Place and successive owners included Reverend Tabor (Principal of Cheam School 1854 – 90), W Mewburn Esquire, Chairman of the South East and Chatham Railway Company, the MacDonald Flour Company, Sir Leonard Lyle of Tate and Lyle and William Vernon, a Liverpool flour miller.

Hawkwell Place in Pembury has become the thriving hub of today’s Kent College and has been the home to a wealth of boarders and members of staff over the last 72 years.   In recent years Kent College has grown significantly, leading to greater ambition in all areas of school life.  The school remains faithful to its Methodist routes with the provision of outstanding academic and pastoral care is delighted that in 2012 an iconic Art and Library Centre will be built, in addition to the refurbishment of their much loved state of the art theatre.

Throughout the next academic year, Kent College looks forward to celebrating 125 years with an extensive events programme.  On the 30th September 2011, Historian Dan Snow will be guest speaker at the 125th Birthday Lecture.  In March Kent College will celebrate the opening of the theatre with ambitious dramatic and musical productions of ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ and ‘Messiah’.   In the summer term, Kent College will open its doors to the local community with a local Film Festival and will end a year of celebration in spectacular style with a Victorian fairground themed Grand Summer Ball.

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