Mrs Harrow

Mrs Irma York (later to become Mrs Harrow), a local teacher, who had joined the school as a class teacher and music specialist bought Broomfield House School in 1969.

Mrs York brought a modern approach to the Broomfield tradition of academic success and personal development through arts and sports. The school continued to flourish with boys and girls passing into all the leading schools in London and to boarding schools around the country at 8 and 11 years old.

Mrs York immediately set about refurbishing the school’s classrooms, and every holiday saw the builders move in to build cupboards and paint walls. The PTA supported this effort with the purchase of a new wooden building that served as our school library from the 1970s until the 1990s.

Music and drama developed to a high standard at the school with major summer productions each year for the seniors, as well as Easter instrumental music concerts and a traditional carol service at St Anne’s church, Kew Green. Junior pupils sang and acted each year in a nativity at Christmas and in class plays in the school junior concert. The school was regularly in the local newspapers for community and international activities. The school bonfire night party became a well-loved event in the village with over 300 people attending, sometimes surprised by one or two parents dressed up as witches for the occasion! The school adopted a boy in Kenya and sponsored his education and was delighted to welcome Kenya’s High Commissioner to speech day in the early 1970s.

Mrs York instituted our school Houses, named after the three most prominent former Headmistresses, Miss Mead (yellow), Miss Palmer (green) and Mrs Rose (red), and ever since Friday assemblies have waited with baited breath to hear the news of which House has taken the lead in the House point race.

The school’s academic success continued to attract many local families who wished to be secure in the knowledge that their children would learn the core curriculum subjects properly. This was a time of change in education philosophy within the country’s schools, but Broomfield under Mrs York continued to innovate through traditional teaching methods and consistently produced well rounded children with high academic achievement.

The continued success of Broomfield was celebrated at the school’s centenary service at St Anne’s Church, Kew Green on 30th January 1976, in the presence of Sir Anthony Royle, our then Member of Parliament, the Mayor of Richmond, the High Commissioner of Kenya, the Head Teachers of many London senior schools, and the school’s past and present staff, pupils and parents. St Anne’s Church tapestry guild kindly marked our centenary by making a new tapestry cushion for the church’s pews which formally acknowledged the long and happy friendship we have enjoyed.

Amongst the local families since the 1970s who sent children to Broomfield were various actors and actresses including Hayley Mills, Honor Blackman, Martin Jarvis and Bond girl and old Broomfieldian Madeleine Smith. Indeed, Martin Jarvis produced a staff and friends production of a specially written play For the Sake of the School in which Mrs York played the school’s founder, Miss Mead, and Madeleine Smith performed as leading lady, as a PTA centenary celebration. Since then many notable local residents have been parents at the school from weather man Michael Fish to Olympic gold medallist Daley Thompson.

Broomfield’s close proximity to the Royal Botanic Gardens afforded us many practical opportunities for learning and for playing our part in welcoming numerous royal visitors including Princess Anne, the Queen and the Queen Mother.

In 1989 Mrs Harrow undertook a major building project, removing the old school hall and replacing it with a beautiful new school gymnasium and two new classrooms. This ambitious project was followed in 1999 with the removal of the old wooden school library and adjoining wooden classroom. These were replaced by a magnificent three storey media block and double height atrium. These new buildings are now known together as Harrow House in recognition of Mrs Harrow’s headship of Broomfield.

After 32 very happy years as Headmistress, Mrs Harrow retired in December 2001. Her career was celebrated with a Broomfield Ball at the Richmond Hill Hotel, which also marked the school’s 125th anniversary. Soul superstar and family friend, Billy Ocean, came out retirement especially to sing for her.