Farnley Lodge

Farnley Lodge is one of the older College houses. It opened in 1882 in a Georgian house in Vittoria Walk (the present YMCA building), where it remained for over 70 years. In the first year there were 23 girls, and the fees were 63 guineas per annum. Initially the house was leased, but in 1899 College bought it for £2,300 and various alterations and improvements were made. Judging from the report in the College Magazine, it was a very desirable property: ‘… Exceedingly good as regards sitting rooms; the garden particularly pretty and good for games, - also there is a kitchen garden, which supplies large quantities of fruit and vegetables.’

Old Farnley Lodge in Vittoria Walk

The first Housemistress, Mrs Simkin, retired in 1892 and was replaced by Mrs Walter, who stayed for 26 years and presided over the early years at Farnley of one Joan Tredgold, a future Principal of College. The next Housemistress, Miss Grayson, was at Farnley Lodge from 1918 to 1940. Such long periods of service were not unusual in those days; many of the early Housemistresses stayed on until they retired through old age. This no doubt helped to make the houses ‘home-like’ (as Miss Beale had wished) and allowed each to develop a character of its own.

Miss Grayson, perhaps unusually at a time when boarders led regimented lives with little real leisure, allowed her girls to keep numerous pets. ‘There is more livestock than formerly’, a Farnley girl reported in 1934, ‘and the white mice and guinea pigs are most attractive… We are going to have a sale in aid of St Hilda’s East… White mice will be on sale on this occasion, but can be delivered beforehand if desired!’ Gardening was another interest; Farnley held an annual Flower Show, and prizes were awarded for such achievements as the best flower-bed and the largest home-grown potato.

At the outbreak of war in 1939, the whole of College, including the boarding houses, was requisitioned by the Government, and alternative accommodation had to be provided in various hastily leased ‘temporary houses’ in and around Cheltenham. During this time the girls were divided by class rather than by house, so that they could have some of their lessons where they lived. Farnley Lodge was fortunate in being one of the first boarding houses to be returned, along with the main College buildings, at the end of 1939.

By 1949 it was felt that the old house in Vittoria Walk was no longer suitable, chiefly because the increasingly-heavy traffic in Montpellier was a serious hazard for girls walking to and from College. The decision was made to move to a quieter part of town. In 1949 Glyngarth School in Douro Road, a boys’ preparatory school, came up for sale. College bought it, and after extensive alteration and refurbishment it opened in the summer of 1955 as the new Farnley Lodge with 52 girls. The new occupants, who had lived through the aftermath of war and were used to shortages and shabby surroundings, were deeply impressed. “The labour-saving gadgets and devices are too many to describe,” boasted the report in the Magazine. ‘De luxe it is, Madam,’ said Mr Cook, the house porter, to a visitor.

Half a century later the novelty has long worn off, and further improvements have been made without attracting nearly so much interest. The old iron bedsteads are gone, carpets have replaced linoleum, and bathrooms and kitchens have been completely modernised. In the summer of 1995 the whole house was refurbished inside and out. Meanwhile the strict regime which still prevailed in the 1950s has gradually relaxed, and today’s girls, now numbering about 65, enjoy a more comfortable and informal boarding house life. Situated as it is near the Field, Farnley tends to attract girls who are good at games and is generally well-represented on College teams.

HOUSEMISTRESSES

1882 Mrs Simkin
1892 Mrs Walter
1918 Miss Grayson
1940 Miss Carlisle
1941 Miss F Baron
1942 Miss O G Hayward
1945 Mrs Green
1946 Miss U Hacking
1952 Mrs Smalman Smith
1965 Mrs M Hinde
1970 Mrs K Ford
1977 Mrs B Power
1978 Mrs J Bristow
1984 Miss S Barnes
1985 Mrs R Veale
1987 Mrs J Sowman
1988 Mrs J Piper
2012 Mrs J Hucker
2013 Miss C Graveney
2014 Mrs J Briggs
2018 Mrs I Michell