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School History

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St Mary’s, Calne was founded in 1873 by Canon John Duncan, the Vicar of Calne. He was a man of vision and determination and for over thirty years worked unstintingly to establish St Mary's (at that time one school with junior and senior children) as an outstanding girls’ school with an Anglican foundation.

In 1915, Miss Matthews arrived at St Mary's and employed a Froebel-trained teacher to specifically look after the younger children – this lasted until 1921. In 1922 the juniors moved to St Prisca’s (now a boarding house at St Mary’s), before moving to a room behind the current senior school dining room, and then into the town. In 1940, the juniors occupied the east wing of the old isolation hospital in the town. However, this was a temporary move, as before long they had to make room for the evacuated Hammersmith School of Art and later for St Stephen’s’ School from Shepherd’s Bush. Eventually, towards the end of the war, they were able to take up permanent residence and this forms the foundation of our current site!

When St Mary’s acquired the old hospital, they named it St Margaret’s and for many years St Margaret’s functioned as a department of the senior school, with a few boys having joined along the way, mainly from the big farming families around Calne. In 1986, the school had reached 75 pupils with five full-time teachers. Gradually, the profile of St Margaret’s rose and in 1988, the Bursar announced that the Governors considered the time had come for St Margaret’s to become a co-educational day preparatory school in its own right.

Much investment into the school followed, both in terms of staffing and facilities and St Margaret’s is now a thriving, co-educational day school with over 200 pupils, Mrs Karen Cordon, the Headmistress is a member of The Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS).

St Mary’s Calne and St Margaret’s are two quite distinct schools but work together as one community. The same Board of Governors oversees both schools with finances managed by one Bursar. Both schools are fulfilling the aims that Canon Duncan aspired to 140 years ago - albeit with a healthy community of boys - to provide the highest quality education to all in our care.  

St Mary’s Calne

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We welcome visitors all year round. Please come and explore St Margaret's and find out what makes it such a special place where your child will flourish!

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