Glenlee

The original home of Glenlee was the building which is now the Malmaison Hotel at the top of Bayshill Road (formerly The Savoy Hotel, Hotel Kandinsky, Montpellier Chapter). It was leased by College in 1886 and licensed to take 35 pupils at 63 guineas per annum ‘ordinary’, or 72 guineas with private bedroom. Here its first Housemistress, Mrs Cecil Smith, fondly remembered by Cecily Steadman in her book In the Days of Miss Beale, presided from 1888 until the house moved into its present home in 1901.

The land for the new Glenlee, backing on to the Field (then called the Playground), was bought for £1,200 in 1898. While the foundations were being laid, much excitement was caused by the discovery of a dinosaur skeleton – an ichthyosaurus – which was proudly carried off to the College museum. By September 1901 the new building, College’s first purpose-built boarding house, had been completed at a cost of £13,600. (The architects were the firm of Waller, who had already worked on the Science Wing in College.) Miss Beale described it as ‘a stately pile’ and commented, ‘The arrangements, especially those which relate to sanitary matters, seem excellent; the house is home-like, not barrack-like.’ The girls were equally delighted with it. Mrs Smith moved with her house, then numbering 38, and stayed on for another 13 years.

Glenlee in 1901

In the early days there was a scale of fees for boarding, and Glenlee was always one of the most expensive houses. In 1919 the fees were 93 guineas a term; in 1933, just before the boarding fees were finally standardised, the charge for Glenlee was 36 guineas a term, compared with 26 guineas or 30 guineas at some other houses. The standard fee was fixed at £141 - £159 per annum, depending on age.

When war broke out in 1939 the whole of College was requisitioned by the Government, and the boarders, divided for the time being by age-group rather than by house, had to be accommodated in various hastily-leased houses in and around Cheltenham. The Glenlee Housemistress, Miss Laws, spent the first six months of the war out at Sevenhampton Manor, where the Domestic Science class had been sent to live. The main College buildings and seven of the boarding houses were returned within a few months, but St Hilda’s, Hatherley Court and Glenlee remained in Government hands until the end of 1944. For part of this time Glenlee was used as an American army hospital. Old girls of the war years recall that on fine days the patients would sit in the back garden in their dressing gowns to watch the games in progress on the Field.

Life in the boarding houses in the years of post-war austerity offered few of the comforts that are taken for granted today. The dormitories were unheated, the bath-water rationed and the meals oppressively formal; moreover, any infringement of the many rules was apt to result in punishment. One Glenlee girl who was slightly late for tea found herself spending the evening washing seventy muddy rubber boots under a cold tap. By the sixties, however, a more liberal régime had begun to evolve. Today’s girls not only live in greater comfort but also enjoy a more informal and home-like atmosphere than would have seemed possible a few decades ago. Because of its proximity to the Field, the sports hall and the swimming pool, Glenlee is always popular with girls who are good at games. It now has about 60 girls.

HOUSEMISTRESSES

1888 Mrs Cecil Smith
1914 Miss Dobson
1921 Miss E Verini
1932 Miss M Kirkpatrick
1937 Mrs Dutton
1938 Miss R Laws
1945 Mrs Garner
1967 Mrs W Nicholson
1976 Mrs E Gilmore
1983 Mrs D Fletcher
1992 Mrs A Wilson
2000 Miss K Beanlands
2010 Mrs C Coull
2014 Mrs C Dobbs