In 1872 Dr Edward Lowe, Provost of the Midland Division, established S. Anne’s School as an ‘upper school’, the first Woodard school for girls.

S. Anne’s was an impressive Georgian farmhouse with panelled rooms and broad tiled fireplaces, referred to by the villagers as ‘the Big House’. It had been owned by Dr Lowe’s brother, the Rev John Manley Lowe who had purchased it originally as a home for his retirement. In 1873 Dr Lowe convinced his brother to sell it to him for £550 as he felt it would make a perfect school. After a period of adaptation the opening ceremony of the girls’ school took place on S. Mark’s Day 1874 with accommodation for 15 students, though it began with just nine, Maggie Hannay being the first. Its numbers, however, grew to 50 by 1878, 120 by 1905 and 200 by 1922.

In the 1880s S. Anne’s was flourishing so the next major milestone was the opening of S. Mary’s lower middle boarding school for girls in Bromley House, Bagot Street. Alice Mary Coleridge (sister-in-law of Dr Lowe) founded S. Mary’s as a ‘lower school’, to ‘educate more cheaply the daughters of clergymen and other professional men of limited means and of the agricultural and commercial classes generally’. The school opened on S. Benedict’s Day 1882, with five girls.

After eight years, with in excess of 50 children, Bromley House and the adjacent cottages became insufficient for the numbers and school purposes. A more permanent location and building was required. As such, land costing £475 was purchased across the street from S. Anne’s. The foundation stone was laid on 3 October 1889 and, over the next three years, a building designed by Mr Carpenter was built. S. Mary’s School moved from Bromley House to the new site in 1893.

So the two schools were founded separately. The only thing they shared was the chapel but even then they had separate services and choirs. Over time the difference between the two schools gradually narrowed and it become uneconomic and inefficient to have two separate Woodard girls’ schools in such close proximity. So in 1921 they amalgamated to become the School of S. Mary and S. Anne.

The amalgamated school flourished.  Buildings further developed and evolved with many properties within the village forming part of the school site. So from a single Georgian house with two acres of land, the school grew to over 60 acres across two main sites with nearly 20 buildings. At times, it had in excess of 600 students.

The school changed its name in 2004 and became known as Abbots Bromley School for Girls. Then September 20## witnessed the introduction of boys into the prep school, later followed in September 2015 by boys into the sixth form and the school became Abbots Bromley School (incorporating Abbots Bromley International College).

In 2019 at the end of the summer term, the school sadly closed. We await with interest to see what the next chapter in this magnificent school’s history will bring.