where it all began


The 1893, The Study was founded in a house called Holmhurst, just off Copse Hill, in the home of Lady and Sir Arthur Holland . Miss Sidford, their Governess, taught three of their six children in … the study! She became the first headmistress of The Study.

Sir arthur holland

Sir Arthur Holland was a wealthy businessman who was passionate about the community. He was one of the first mayors of Wimbledon and founder of the Wimbledon Guild, a charity that the School still supports today.

After his death, Lady Holland gave a field to be established as a public garden to remember him by – Holland Park Gardens. When Lady Holland died, Holmhurst was given to the old people of Wimbledon.

Founding Headmistresses 1893 - 1936

Miss Sidford

1893 - 1936

Miss Farman

1895 - 1923


In 1895, Miss Sidford joined forces with Miss Farman, a much travelled and well educated Governess at The Old House, Church Road. They rented a room above the Lecture Hall in Lingfield Road and combined their small classes.

London Borough of Merton

Miss Sidford


After moving to larger premises at 47 The High Street (now Pet Pavillion!) in 1897, school numbers were increasing and Miss Sidford obtained a permit for a purpose-built school in Peek Crescent. The architect, one of her brothers, created what was considered to be a very modern building, being one of the first to have electric lighting. The design for the entrance of the school came from a picture of Sir Henry Peek’s house, which had previously stood on the site.

Note from Miss Farman and Miss Sidford, 1905

Spencer House was born

The classes were small and a special effort was made to help shy girls and give them confidence. The creative arts were important from the beginning, with the juniors performing and annual nativity. The tone was set for the school ethos, still echoed in our values of today – creativity, courage, compassion and curiosity.

The girls celebrated a Garden Fete on Wimbledon Common in June 1903 … the 15th June has been celebrated as the school’s birthday ever since. Our annual birthday party remains an important event each summer.

Miss Sidford kept a notebook of daily life at Spencer House. She detailed everything from the groceries ordered for lunch to pasting in programmes for magical ‘Cafe Chantant’ musical recitals and performances of plays, from Antigone to As You Like It.

Historic Nativity

Antigone Programme, 1905

A growing community

1905 - 1914

In September 1905 the new school building opened to girls (and a few boys) aged seven to 16.

Back then, school began at 9:15am and supervised games took place between 12pm and 1pm. In the afternoon, school was open between 2:30 to 5pm for classes. Subjects included English, elocution, literature, history, geography, physiography, botany, maths, French, German and Latin.

Study pupils began their day with a brisk walk around the pond on Wimbledon Common. Games like hockey and cricket were played on the open fields behind the school, the girls always in their ankle length skirts! School uniform was not introduced until the 1920s.

Pupils, 1912

Girls in Exam, 1909

Sport through the years

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Wartime at the study

1914 - 1945

The First World War had little effect on school life. No bombs fell on Wimbledon, but the firing of shells at airships and bombers from anti-aircraft guns stationed near Raynes Park caused schrapnel to fall like hailstones, cracking a few tiles on The Study roof.

The adjacent house to the School – 6 Peek Crescent – was purchased as boarding accommodation for up to nine girls. Miss Wood, the housemistress, was notorious for taking her charges on a walk to the Windmill and back before school! .


SOGA was formed

In 1920 The Study Old Girls Association (SOGA) was formed. Over the years, SOGA has held many reunions and successful fundraising events for the school. This picture from 1928 shows Miss Sidford with children of Study alumni who had returned to the School for a SOGA event.

Miss Sidford with children of the study alumnae

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Headmistresses 1937 - 1966

Miss Challan

1937 - 1942

Miss Desch

1942 - 1975

Miss Reed

1942 - 1966

Beaufort School

Miss Gentian Challen was appointed as the new headmistress in 1939. She felt that The Study might give an erroneous impression of exclusive and over-academic life and chose to name the school Beaufort School.


With the outbreak of the Second World War, Miss Challen decided Beaufort School should move to Gloucestershire. Thirteen pupils between the ages of eight and 16 went to Bradley Court, with five members of staff. After only a term all the pupils and staff returned to Peek Crescent. Miss Challen had the downstairs corridor (known as St George’s Chapel) and cloakrooms (St Paul’s Crypt) reinforced to serve as an air raid shelter. When peace came to Europe, there were 77 pupils on the school roll.

Study Prep Girls, 1939

Spencer house, 1950

Mottos to live by

1945 - 1975

The school was divided into four houses – Farman, Sidford, Archer and Roney. Miss Farman and Miss Sidford were the school’s founders. Miss Roney had been a pupil at The Study and was a founder member of SOGA. Mrs Archer had been a pupil at the Study when it was situated in the High Street and transferred with it to Peek Crescent.

Each of the school houses had their own motto:

Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself

Everything you do is important

Work hard & play well

Do your best & you will shine


A new laboratory was created at Spencer House, science was added to the timetable for the first time and a bus was purchased to help transport girls and their kit to and from matches. Always moving with the times, there was much excitement when the School introduced its first computer, which was a little bigger than the iPad’s our girls are used to today.

School minibus from the 1950's

First school computer


Miss Desch retired after 40 years at the Study. Amid fears the school might close, a group of parents formed a limited company, 4 Peek Crescent was bought from Miss Desch and a new era began.

Tennis in the 1970's

Mrs Desch

changing & growing

1984 - 2021

Headmistresses 1976 - 2010

Mrs Baynon

1976 - 1984

Mrs Bond

1984 - 2003

Mrs Nicol

2003 - 2010


The momentous decision was made by the Governors to phase out the senior school and become a preparatory school for girls from four to 11.

Senior Girls, 1980's


The Study bought the William Wilberforce School on Camp Road, a historic building on Wimbledon Common that had been used as a school since 1758. Find out more about Wilberforce House

Historic illustration of wilberforce house

The duchess of gloucester visits the study

100 Years

of The Study

The move to Wilberforce House coincided with the school’s centenary and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester officially opened the new Wilberforce House. The Duchess sealed The Study’s 50-year Time Capsule.

Time capsule - to be opened in 2043

Study Prep girls, 1993


It was decided facilities needed to be improved at Spencer House. A huge project was embarked upon to redesign and create more space. Some 7,000sq ft of new space was created – larger classrooms, an art room, library and IT room as well as practice rooms and group teaching rooms. The redesigned building was officially opened in January 1998 by Mrs Jacqueline Lang, President of the Girls’ Schools’ Association.

Pergola in the spencer house playground

Mrs Pepper, 2010 - 2022

One of Mrs Pepper’s briefs when she took over the headship in 2010 was to work on plans for a future major development at Wilberforce House. After the trials and tribulations of distilling ideas, formulating plans and obtaining planning permission followed by a few covid-19 related delays, the building finally opened in March 2021. The new building includes six bright and airy classrooms, a library overlooking Wimbledon Common and state of the art performing arts space.

Our location and facilities

Headmistresses 2010 - Present

Mrs Pepper

2010 - 2021

Miss Ellis

2020 - 2022

Mrs Head Lowe, The Study Head

Mrs Lowe 2022

July 2023

Sharon Maher

Mrs Maher 2023


Where next?