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News > From the Archives > Willis House

Willis House

Willis House, one of our Sixth Form Houses
Olive Willis in her later years
Olive Willis in her later years

Willis was opened in 1992.  It is divided into two wings, East and West.
Willis House is of course named after Miss Olive Willis, who founded Downe House in 1907 with Miss Alice Carver.  Miss Willis took the academic lead and Miss Carver took on a mainly pastoral and household management role.
As the numbers in the school grew, Miss Willis took the school through the First World War, a move from Down* House, near Orpington in Kent, to the current site in West Berkshire and on through the Second World War.  She passed on the Headship to Miss Nancy Medley in 1947.
Miss Willis passed away in early 1964, her ashes were scattered here at Downe House, in the Memorial Garden behind the chapel alongside fellow teachers.
A Downe House parent, Ian McMaster wrote this of Olive Willis,
“The fact that she could greet any one of her girls, after 10, 20, even 40 and more years, by name and with a smile of real recognition was not due to her wonderful memory and tireless correspondence; but because, at school, she had seen right into them with hopefulness, and this deep knowledge and the love that inspired it, had made each an undying part of the other.”


Tara Reeve and Victoria Ryan

Willis West                                                     
1992 - 2002                 Mrs Bridget Wells-West
2002 - 2004                 Mrs Elizabeth Lewis
2004 - 2007                 Miss Sabi Musa
2007                         Mrs Victoria Ryan
Willis East
1992 - 1993                 Mrs Alexandra Bankoff
1993 - 1996                 Mrs Catherine de Vito
1996 - 2001                 Miss Diana Vernon
2001 - 2004                 Miss Amanda Proctor
2004 - 2006                 Mrs Julie Dell
2006 - 2014                 Mr Jeremy Long
2014                       Mrs Tara Reeve


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