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News > From the Archives > Ancren Gate

Ancren Gate

The original Ancren Gate became Hill House, and the name Ancren Gate went to the other side of the site. Ancren Gate then split to North and South
Ancren Gate
Ancren Gate

The original Ancren Gate was built 1914, so it was already in the grounds when the school came to Cold Ash in 1922.
Miss Curtis, one of the two founders of the Order of Silence, from whom Olive Willis bought this estate in Cold Ash, had a house built for her own use.  It was, Anne Ridler writes “at the eastern edge of the grounds … called Ancren Gate, to recall the medieval anchoresses”. An Anchoress or an Anchorite is one who withdraws from the world for a solitary life of prayer.  Note that they will withdraw, not cut themselves off completely.  They would live in a small room which would have three windows; one looking towards the church so that communion can be received, the second would allow contact with their assistant and the third would allow people to come and seek the guidance and advice of the anchoress or the anchorite, and to request prayers to be said.
Again from Anne Ridler, regarding Ancren Gate; “The school retained the name, but filled it first of all with staff, and later on with the younger girls, who slept there under the wing of Miss Croft”.
After a time being used for the VIth form, when the house system started in 1979, Ancren Gate (AG) became one of the four main school houses and occupied both the original Ancren Gate and Red Shute, the building next to it, which is now Darwin House.
As the school enrolment increased, it was decided in 1992 to have a fifth house and AG was split into Ancren Gate North (AGN) and Ancren Gate South (AGS) with AGN occupying the original AG and AGS occupying Red Shute – both had extensions added. The terms AGN and AGS were used before that, depending on which building girls were in but they were combined as AG for inter-house activities such as drama, games, music and so on.
In 2001, to give the girls more space, there was some swapping of buildings between houses. So AGN swapped with Hill House, moving into a revamped, enlarged building - its present building. AGS swapped with Darwin House, also into its present, revamped, enlarged building.
1979 - 1982, Mrs Juliet Austin
1982 - 1986, Mrs Judith Hamilton               
1986 - 1992, Mrs Rosanna Oldham
1992 - 1997, Miss Pat Volanté                                 
1997 - 2004, Mrs Paula Plass
2004 - 2008, Mrs Kristen Simpson
2008 - 2010, Miss Virginia Woods
2010 - 2013, Mrs Suzy Dixon                        
2013 - 2017, Kayleigh Anger
2017 -  2018, Mr Adam Treadaway

2018 - 2020, Samantha Cartmell

2020, Bethan Mears-Smith

1992 - 1994, Mrs Jennifer Howard
1994 - 1997, Mrs Jenny Crosby
1997 - 1999, Mrs Michelle Hobbs
1999 - 2003, Mrs Jane Shone
2003 - 2011, Mrs Genevieve Ford   
2011 - 2014, Mrs Charlotte Jones    
2014 - 2021 Mrs Sofia McClymont 

2021             Jade Vidler
Anne Ridler, Olive Willis and Downe House: an adventure in education.  Published in 1967 by John Murray


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