Ursuline High Wimbledon
The Ursuline Convent School, which opened on 9th January 1893, less than a year after the first four nuns arrived to open the convent in the Spring of 1892. There were seven pupils, one of whom was Evelyn Boord, who as Mother Mary Angela Boord, became a legendary and pioneering Ursuline. Her long life meant that she is remembered vividly by many Ursulines still living. From the very beginning, the school engaged in exciting educational experiences. In 1898, a small group went to the Lyceum Theatre to see Ellen Terry and Henry Irving in "The Merchant of Venice", even in those days a truly memorable outing!
At this time, the school was established in a house on Worple Road, but not for long. In 1901, the school moved to the Claremont building on The Downs, and gradually began its expansion across the terrain, acquiring different properties, and building others until it reached the boundaries of the present site stretching from The Downs to Crescent Road, including also the current Arts Centre and the Preparatory School across The Downs to the east. Situated just outside the area for which the Government advised evacuation, of all the Ursuline schools in London, Wimbledon was the only one not to be evacuated during the second world war. There are stories of exciting, and dangerous journeys made by students who at this time travelled to Wimbledon from many different places in Surrey. Not surprisingly, the number of weekly boarders increased at this time!
Accompanying changes in the designation of the secondary school have been many and various. Entry to the school as a grammar-school was by means of examination, and financial constraints were evident in 1948 when alternatives were pointed out to the parents: "either a regular subscription of £50 would need to be covenanted, or we should have to revert to a fee-paying school." Once the school had received Voluntary-Aided status, this particular problem was averted. The Parents Association has always helped the school in many ways, supplementing government financial support. In the late 1980s, the Association helped to purchase the School's first BBC computers, housed in the first computer room, adapted from a cloakroom! In 1969, as part of the Merton local authority, and as the third tier in a newly designed educational system, the School became a Roman Catholic comprehensive high school for girls (aged 13-18), with 6 forms of entry.
Today, the School continues as a comprehensive high school for girls, now with seven forms of entry and a restored 11-19 age-range. It has an outstanding reputation. There are close curriculum and extra-curricular links with the Wimbledon College boys school in years 12 and 13. Beginning with the seven pupils in 1893, the Ursuline High School now numbers about thirteen hundred students. It possesses two official specialisms in Business and Enterprise, and also Languages.
In the early years of this century, discussions with the Archdiocese of Southwark were finally concluded and the Ursuline High School became a diocesan school. Until about this time, the head teachers of both the High School and the Preparatory School had always been Ursuline sisters. The lay headteachers who have been appointed in recent years have continued to uphold the Ursuline ethos with energy and commitment and Ursulines have remained in contact with both schools. With the help of a committee drawn from present or former Ursuline schools, the current head teacher of the High School organised a highly successful global conference at Aylesford in July 2010 for Ursulines and senior management from places such as Taiwan, Venezuela and the States. Both the High School and the Preparatory School have established vibrant links with other Ursuline educational foundations across England and abroad. The network which has grown from these contacts is now entering an exciting new phase with the development of Ursuline Links, news of which is found elsewhere on this website.
Ursuline High School Wimbledon: www.ursulinehigh.merton.sch.uk