History of Abbotsleigh since 1885

Founded in 1885 Abbotsleigh has a hundred and twenty years of living history. We began in a small terrace house in North Sydney. The first picture shows 30 pupils (see list at bottom of page). Our next move was to Parramatta first to Honiton House and then to much more spacious premises at the corner of Church and Marsden streets - now covered by a car park. There was a large garden with a tennis court and scope for afternoon walks. The school thrived and in 1895 Miss Clarke left 80 pupils behind when she set out for a year in England on family business. The school declined without her energy and on her return only a handful of boarders remained. Gathering up this nucleus of "house girls" Miss Clarke bought land, built a school and began afresh at Wahroonga where we've grown and flourished like the trees around us ever since.

 

A School is more than land and buildings. Significant achievements in sport and education are an integral aspect of our history. We were the first girls' school to have a sports field and the sporting life of the school draws firmly on a long tradition of valuing not only physical exercise but the team spirit and fair play traditions fostered by competitive sport. Girls these days win "best and fairest" awards from IGSSA and train as umpires and coaches in their chosen sports. The introduction of "houses" by Miss Everett in 1931 did a great deal to foster the sporting spirit.

Achievements in music and performing arts are a significant part of our heritage. Music is also part of our worship and the building of our beautiful baroque organ in 1992 added significantly to both services in the Chapel and the musical life of the School. In the area of performing arts we can claim that some established stars of stage and screen first walked the boards in an Abbotsleigh production.

Abbotsleigh today is a living vibrant community fully aware of its past and its rich traditions in all aspects of educational life and service. For more information about Abbotsleigh, its history and its past students contact the Archivist at the school (Phone: 61 2 9473 7735). The Archives hold many school records, thousands of photographs and an extensive collection of donated memorabilia.

Caption to the top photo which was published as an advertisment on 28 January 1899:

A beautiful country home for girls ; 620 ft. above the sea ; within half an hour by rail of sydney.  Especially built for school purposes.  Careful and thorough teaching.  Leading Sydney Specialists.  Cycling, Tennis, Sea Bathing.
MISS CLARKE
MRS. HATLEY-BOYD.

 

The first students enrolled 1885-6:
Lucy Adams, Nellie Amphlett, Agnes Bennett, Edith Bray, Kate Burge, Ruth Busby, *Lindsay Clarke, Mabel Clarke, Nora Clarke, Nellie Clarke, Effie Day, Lily Day, May Day, *Leonard Dibbs, Emily Ives, Florence Kendall, Olive Lack, Dolly MacKnight, Edith MacKnight, *Jack MacKnight, May MacKnight, Edith Mitchell, Agnes Moodie, Isabel Moodie, Mabel Pockley, Jeannie Sydney Jones, Maude Sydney Jones, Belle Turton, Ella Turton, Violet Turton.
* indicates a boy.

   Libarary C1929