THE ESTABLISHMENT OF VGHS
It all started in 1892
in a cottage. Miss Bertha Mingay, a certificated teacher, started giving
lessons at home. Her institution was called the Acorn School and only had
The quality of education Miss Mingay was offering was so impressive that
enrolment numbers grew rapidly. By 1894 the school had 91 girls and Miss Mingay appointed her sister to help with the
management. The cottage was not able
to accommodate the girls, so Miss Mingay rented the Odd Fellows' Hall in Hill
Street, now the Dutch Reformed Church, and renamed her institution the Hopewell
The school's first
official recognition was in 1896, when the Education Department of the Cape
Colony invited Miss Mingay to sign her school under their name. Because Miss Mingay was
the founder she was given the position of "Headmistress".
At that stage (1986) there was
no official uniform and the girls were allowed to wear brightly coloured
blouses of their own choice, long dark skirts and large (frilly) white pinafores.
Outside they wore hats and their hair had to be tied back with coloured ribbons.
School ended at quarter
past two and there were no organised games or sport as the time was diverted to
studies. The first sporting facility was established in 1902 and the facilities were a
tennis court and croquet lawn. During break the girls' played "I spy",
"Tippy-tippy-touch-wood", rounders and hide-and-seek. After school they went
VICTORIA GIRLS' HIGH SCHOOL
In 1897 the British Empire
was celebrating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. As soon as the foundation
stone of the the official school building had been laid, the name Victoria
Girls' School was given to the school. This was in commemoration of the Queen's
In the year 1898 Miss Mingay
resigned as headmistress in order to get married. Although Miss Mingay resigned,
her passion for education didn't stop there as she went on to become a mother
and grandmother of a family of educationists, including a professor of physics
at the University of Cape Town.
As a result of Miss
Mingays' retirement the school had to appoint a new headmistress. The
headmistress appointed and best suitable for the job was Miss Glennie.
GLENNIE - HEADMISTRESS
According to Dr Muir,
Superintendent General of Education in the Cape, the choice to appoint Miss
Margaret Glennie was "as wise as could be". She is said to have established the
tradition of service and chivalry, kindness and courtesy.
During the first two years
of Miss Glennie's position as headmistress (1899- 1901), the enrolment numbers
were a phenomenal 292. The building the school was situated in, was too small to
accommodate such a huge number of girls so it was time to build again.
On January 1902, it was
the commemoration of Queen Victoria's death and the Governor of the Cape Colony
laid the foundation stone of the "Victoria High School for Girls'".
In 1905 the Cape
Government passed the School Board Act which introduced new elements to
education. One was that from 1910 education would be made compulsory, (but not
free) for all white children up to the age of 14.
NO DISCOURAGEMENT- HOSTEL GROWTH
The reputation of the
school was that of a good one and this attracted girls' that lived far from
Grahamstown. The need for a hostel was recognised in 1906, but it was only
in 1912 that anything was done about the situation. Since there was no money or
land available for the school, they tried to find a building which they could
turn into a hostel for the girls.
On Somerset Street, where
"EB" stands, there used to be a house owned by Mrs Rudd. After negotiating
with her, the school was able to rent the house for ten pounds a month, so as
from January 1912 VG had its first boarding facility: Dorset House. By
July, the hostel had 13 girls and four teachers that acted as matrons.
With the expansion of the
boarders Dorset House was soon too small, so this led to the school renting a
cottage which was known as the Shackleton's Cottage. These boarders were
watched by Miss Philpotts, who had come to VG as Head Matron in 1913.
In 1913 the Shackleton's
Cottage was too small to accommodate the number of boarders, this led to the
school acquiring a new hostel, Thursford.
The school owned a library of 275
books, but by 1924 the book stock, of ordinary books had grown to 680 (30 in
Dutch) and a Reference Library with 40 volumes. The girls were taught the
importance of self-improvement and intellectual development through independent
reading and research.
Please visit us again
so as to read more about the history of the school.