To provide a flavour of our school’s rich history please read about the personalities who have led Broomfield as our Head Teachers. We are grateful to the staff and parents who collected so much of this information which complements our ever growing library of school photographs. These are all carefully stored in the library and a small selection are here for past pupils especially to see. We hope you might find yourselves, your family or friends amongst our gallery of images accompanying the stories of Broomfield’s colourful and inspiring Head Teachers
Miss Mead founded Broomfield House School in 1876 and served as Headmistress until 1896. The first printed reference to the school was in the Richmond & Twickenham Times on 29th January 1876. The school offered tuition in English and mathematics as well as in languages, music, art and PE (especially gymnastics). Miss Mead gave us the school motto Lo Here is Fellowship. Her contribution to the Kew community is recorded in a memorial tablet in St. Anne’s Church on Kew Green where the school still goes for our Carol Service. The tablet reads that it is a tribute to over fifty years of charitable and intellectual activities in Kew. According to a former pupil, Miss Mead prided herself on being descended from Charles II, did her hair in the style of the period and wore long purple cloaks.
Formerly Headmistress of the Northampton High School. She is described as “a much loved head” by a former Broomfield pupil of 1903.
E Collingwood was a pupil from 1899-1903 who recalls of Miss D’Esterre-Hughes that “she taught us elocution usually in the gym. I can see her now almost shouting at us – half a league, half a league onward – and we all shouted back with great gusto!”
Beth Walker, a boarding student in 1918, recalls the school sports. “We were taken to Richmond Baths for swimming and diving lessons and to the Old Deer Park for netball. The two sides were called Spartans and Athenians and wore bright yellow or green arm bands.”
According to Joan Durrant, a pupil from 1923-29, “Miss Chettle and Miss Petch were joint Headmistresses when I was a student. Miss Petch ran the Kindergarten in the gym for 5-7 year olds. Miss Chettle ran the senior half of the school for 12 years.”
Joan Durrant fills in some school history as she recalls:
‘Miss Petch left sometime between 1923 and 1925. Miss Chettle continued but the school dwindled considerably. Eventually she sold out in 1926 to Gunnersbury School for Boys. Gunnersbury put in two new joint Headmistresses, Miss Cross and Miss Wilde.’
Joan Durrant tells us about these two new Heads of Broomfield:
‘They bought the school up again and were very keen academically taking great trouble that pupils should pass into good senior schools’
As Gunnersbury School colours were red and grey, Broomfield adopted these as part of a new compulsory school uniform.
Joan Durrant tells us that
“Miss Wilde was an eccentric individual who tended to wear rather dramatic clothes and was decked out in her full array whenever possible. She had a very memorable purple velvet dress and a striking orange one. She liked bright colours and was altogether colourful character with great knowledge and the knack of imparting gems of information in such a way that her pupils never forgot them!”
Miss Wilde fell ill in 1935
In her first Headmistress’ report at the school’s joint Speech Day with Gunnersbury at Chiswick Town Hall, Miss Palmer noted the successful entries by Broomfield girls to schools including St Pauls, Notting Hill and to Miss Cross’ Old Vicarage.
1939 – By 1939, Miss Palmer had taken over Broomfield as an independent school from Gunnersbury. Speaking at the first Broomfield speech day in the school’s own hall Miss Palmer thanked parents for their support in this change of course:
“If Broomfield was to go to fresh success the time was right for the school to stand on its own feet and take its full position as an entity in her own parish and neighbourhood.”
Miss Palmer also announced her delight that Broomfield now had the country’s first air raid shelter in a private school, so the safety of the children was secured during the troubled times of the second world war.
The happy atmosphere of the school is remembered by Janet Somers, a pupil from 1938-47:
“I have many happy memories of the school in the war years, from sitting singing by the air-raid shelter on the lawn, to attending the summer holiday school sessions, organised at the time when holidays away in the country or by the sea, were then impossible for the children.”
After many years service, Miss Palmer died in 1952. Her service to Kew and the school is commemorated by a plaque in St Anne’s Church, Kew Green, erected in 1954.
Miss Pamela Richards was interim Headmistress until the school was sold to Mrs Maude Rose in July 1954, who came to Broomfield from Ashton House School in Osterley.
Under Mrs Rose the school continued to flourish and also began welcoming children of families from around the world, something that has continued to the present day. Mrs Rose notes in her 1956 speech day address that pupils had joined the school in that academic year from America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Borneo.
Mrs Rose maintained the school’s balanced approach to educating the whole child. At the 1961 speech day she confirms this:
‘If we measure our success by entrances into Public and Grammar schools we are successful. However, I like to feel that we have helped personalities to develop, good habits to be formed with right relationships towards our fellows.’
Certainly the school’s academic achievements produced good results in entrance examinations during this period with a typical year seeing successes to all the good quality schools to which Broomfield boys and girls still regularly go. These include: St Paul’s Boys and Girls Schools, Lady Eleanor Holles, Surbiton High, St Catherine’s, Putney High, Notting Hill & Ealing High, Kingston Grammar, Colet Court, Latymer Prep, King’s College Wimbledon and Westminster School. In addition, numerous boys and girls successfully obtained free places to the state Grammar schools of the time every year.