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North London Collegiate School

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2457
Held at: North London Collegiate School
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Full title: North London Collegiate School
Date(s): 1850-2003
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: Approximately 400 volumes and 30 boxes
Name of creator(s): North London Collegiate School | Camden | 1850-1939
North London Collegiate School | Edgware | 1939-


Administrative/Biographical history:

The North London Collegiate School for Ladies (NLCS) was opened by Frances Mary Buss (FMB) in the Buss family home in Camden St, London, on 4 April 1850, with 38 pupils. It aimed to provide an education for the daughters of the middle class community in which it was situated.

FMB was the head and the school staff consisted of a number of full-time assistant mistresses (known as governesses) and part-time masters attending when required. FMB's brothers Alfred and Septimus Buss also gave instruction. The school primarily catered for day pupils, but in 1866, the boarding house where some of the girls from more distant homes were accommodated, was taken over by Miss Buss and moved to a location closer to the school, with a second boarding house opening soon after at 15 Camden Rd.

FMB insisted that all the (women) teaching staff at the school should be trained at the Home and Colonial Schools Society, and introduced regular weekly staff meetings as a means of securing uniformity of action and exact teaching. Discipline was maintained through a system of deduction marks and memorised impositions, rather than corporal punishment. In an era when education of girls was seen as a health concern, FMB took step to pre-empt criticism of the school on these grounds. There was a constant emphasis on health at the schools, and callisthenics and gymnastics were practised regularly. In 1868 senior girls were even given a physiology course by Miss Chessar of the Home and Colonial Schools.

The opening up of external examinations to girls stimulated the academic function of the school. In 1863, NLCS submitted 25 candidates to the Cambridge University Senior Local Examinations. And in 1865, it was one of only two girls' schools to participate in the Schools Inquiry Commission. The same year, FMB devised the term Head Mistress, in order to demonstrate the parity between the sexes as heads of schools. The Schools Inquiry Commission found that very little funding was being devoted to the education of girls by charitable endowments, compared to that available to boys (12 schools for girls and 820 for boys). The report of this Commission led to the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, which required annual examinations to be held at all schools, unless pupils took approved public examinations or were being inspected. The Act was also responsible for the creation of 80 endowed schools. The Endowed Schools Commission established a curriculum along the lines already being pursued at NLCS.

In 1869, a public meeting was held to form a Trust to take over the ownership and running of the NLCS, and its name was altered to the North London Collegiate School for Girls. The trust deed was signed on 26 Jul 1870, with the trustees including Alfred and Septimus Buss, Charles Lee (vicar of Holy Trinity, Haverstock Hill), and a number of women (at the insistence of FMB). Later trustees also included two members of the 1965 Schools Inquiry Commission - Dr John Storrar M D (Chairman of the Governors, 1870-1874), and Dr A W Thorold, (vicar of St Pancras, and Chairman of the Governors, 1875-1892). Fourteen of the trustees were appointed to the governing body for both the NLCS and a new lower school established at the Camden St site under Miss Elford, when the NLCS moved to larger premises at 202 Camden Rd. By 1871, the new Camden school had 113 girl pupils.

NLCS was a self supporting school, reinvesting surplus funds in the improvement of teaching salaries. In 1870, it was the largest school of its type in the country. New buildings were necessary, and an appeal for funds was begun in 1870. A loan of 3 000 and a gift of 1000 from Miss Ewart, one of the Governors, was received, which allowed for the purchase of premises in Sandall Rd. Augmented in 1872 by the allocation of a part of the income of the Brewers' Company educational bequest, and a donation of 20 000 from the same Company, building work could begin. This however was delayed by the passage of the Endowed Schools Amendment Act, which was not signed until May 1875. Initially both schools were to be located on the Sandall Rd site, however in 1876, plans were drawn up for buildings on two separate sites, and a site in Prince of Wales Rd acquired for the Camden School, at the suggestion of the Charity Commission (formerly the Endowed Schools Commission). Further delays occurred while the Governors and the Charity Commission negotiated over concerns at the cost of building on two separate sites. Eventually, a further 8000 from the Brewers' Company, 2000 from Dame Alice Owen's charity and a loan of 6000 enabled building to proceed. A further donation from the Clothworkers' Company was used for the erection of an assembly hall at Sandall Rd. The Camden School buildings, Prince of Wales Rd, were opened in 1878, and the NLCS buildings, Sandall Rd, 1879. From then on FMB concentrated mainly on the further development of NLCS.

Recognition of the value of a proper education for girls meant that numbers of pupils rose steadily at both schools and by 1876, there were 449 at NLCS and 393 at the Camden School. In 1876, an inspection team from London University visited the School. By this time, subjects such as elementary physics, practical chemistry and botany had been introduced, enhancing the school's reputation for science teaching. More academic opportunities were opening up for women, Oxbridge colleges for women were being founded, and in 1878, the Convocation of London University, with Dr Storrar as Chair, approved the motion proposed by Septimus Buss for the admission of women to take degrees. FMB began to recruit women graduates to teach in her schools, and by1885, there were nine graduates on the teaching staff, eight of whom were her former pupils. She was also concerned that proper salaries were paid to the new and well trained graduates, introducing a savings scheme for the teaching staff and a pension schemes. Following FMB's death in 1894, the two schools came to be known collectively as the Frances Mary Buss Schools.

The second Headmistress of NLCS was Sophie Bryant (1850-1822), appointed in 1895. She had joined the staff in 1875, a brilliant scholar and teacher. She believed in the broadest possible education for children, rejecting the pressure from external exams on the School's curriculum. While emphasising intellectual education, she recognised its limitations and introduced the study of home crafts and household business.
NLCS enrolments declined along with the neighbourhood in the early 20th century. Numbers dropped from 480 in 1903, to 392 in 1910, then to 343 by 1914. In October 1913, the school increased from 10 to 25% the number of free places offered. However standards remained high, with 41 of the 46 in the sixth form matriculating, in 1911, and 23 of the 29 sixth form leavers in 1914, taking up university places.

The girls also participated in various clubs and societies, including a Hockey club, a Basketball team, a Science club with branches in photography, geography and gardening, Debating Society, Botanical Society, Dorcas Society, Missionary Society, and Sunshine League.

Sophie Bryant retired in 1918, and was succeeded by Isabella Drummond, who had joined the staff of NLCS in 1908. Drummond created more freedom in the school, reducing the rules, promoting self-reliance and intellectual enterprise in pupils, and espousing career advice. She also encouraged staff to develop their own subjects within the syllabus, and in 1919 introduced a sabbatical term for members of staff with more than seven years continuous service. She was also able to persuade the Governors to pay for supply teachers in the event of staff absences.

Following World War 1 there was a surge in school numbers, rising to 510 in 1919, with 600 pupils by 1925. The Sandall Rd site was becoming inadequate for a school this size. In 1927, the Governors decided to purchase Canons in Edgware, (the former home of the Duke of Chandos) for 17,000, and pupils travelled there once a week for sports and other activities until 1938, when the whole school moved to the Edgware site, and the Camden School For Girls took up residence in the vacated buildings in Sandall Rd.

In 1926 a cow shed in Bromley-by-Bow was purchased to commemorate 100 years since Frances Mary Buss' birth and was converted with the assistance of the Old North Londoners Association, for social services and a club premises for local children, It was known as Frances Mary Buss House.

Drummond retired at the end of 1940, and Eileen Harold was appointed the new Head Mistress having been formerly second mistress at Haberdashers' Aske's. During World War 2, approximately half the students were sent to Luton, though Edgware was outside the evacuation zone, most of the rest remaining at Canons. In 1944, Harold resigned to take up the post of Head Mistress of Haberdashers' Aske's, and was succeeded by Dr Katherine (Kitty) Anderson.

During Anderson's twenty year tenure the School became a Direct Grant Grammar School in 1945, and facilities were gradually expanded with the opening of the Drummond Library in 1954, a swimming pool in 1955, and a new drawing school in 1958. Pupil numbers rose and by 1956, there were 813 girls attending the school. In 1958, the school was inspected, and received a glowing report. Anderson was particularly enthusiastic that her pupils should have the opportunity to attend university. By 1964, 61 of the 123 leavers had university places, and another 42 were undertaking further training of different kinds.

Madeline McLauchlan was appointed Headmistress, in December 1964, taking up her appointment in Sep 1965. She handled the response of the school to the Public Schools Commission, established 1966, and the abolition of the Direct Grant Scheme, which had existed since 1926. It was replaced by a combination of bursaries and the Assisted Places Scheme, and NLCS became an independent school with charitable status.

The next headmistress, Joan Clanchy was appointed in 1986. She introduced a number of changes including moving the Junior School to its own building in 1987, and lessening the class size. In 1995, the First School was opened for girls aged 4 to 7 years.


Scope and content/abstract:

Archives of the North London Collegiate School (NLCS) comprising:

records of governance including rough Governors Meeting minutes 1898-1919; signed minutes of the Governors of North London Collegiate School and Camden School for Girls (Frances Mary Buss Foundation), 1870-1992; Governors meeting attendance book 1910-1940; Governors meetings and Finance Committee attendance book, 1949-1958, 1975-1994; NLCS Trustees attendance book 1871-1875; record of Appointment of Governors 1875-1910, 1958-1977; Governors agenda book 1873-1875, also containing Reception Committee minutes 1879; Governors agenda books 1910-1914, 1927-1959; Governors agenda book 1910-1913 also containing Finance and General Purposes Committee agendas 1958-1959; Finance and General Purposes Committee minutes, 1970-1982; Finance Reports NLCS and CSFG 1875-1890, 1921-1933; Treasurers meetings minutes 1895-1910; Schools Committee minutes 1910-1913; Schools Committee attendance book, 1910-1914; Memorial Committee minutes 1871; Building Committee minutes 1875; minutes of the Trustees of the Frances Mary Buss Memorial Scholarship Fund, 1897-1937; minutes of the Frances Mary Buss Memorial Travelling Scholarship 1964-1965 and 1969;

NLCS correspondence 1871-1883; NLCS Secretary's reports 1871-1875; Headmistresses report to Governors, 1871-1920;

administrative records including inventory of equipment and furniture Sep 1875-1904; NLCS Dates of Terms, 1877-1939; Timetable analysis 1947-1966; Billetting addresses in Luton; Secretary's information notebook; NLCS Visitors books 1884-1917, 1949-1965; Examiners reports 1891-1903;

records relating to school staff including Staff Meetings minutes 1885-1894, 1912-1986; Staff meetings attendance book 1874-1913; Staff register 1883-1927; Staff register of appointments 1893-1932; Register of mistresses and administrative staff 1909-1938; Teachers agreement book; Staff attendance register 1882-1886, 1933-1958; Staff address books, 1917-1956; Staff Dramatic Club minutes, [1965]-1970; Staff log book (scrap book) 1937-1955; rough notes of lectures on English composition 1860-1876; Camden School for Girls (staff) salaries book 1909-1914;

student records including admission books, 1850-1911; Admission register index 1925-1938, with index 1935-1938; Admissions application forms, 1871-present; Register of applications 1874-1942; Register of pupils 1875-1878; New entrants to school, 1942-1978; Withdrawal books 1871-1906; Camden and NLCS register of [withdrawn] pupils, 1871-1878; Leaving lists 1939-1979;

scholarships register 1894-1941; Scholarships, exhibitions and prizes register 1873-1918; Register of London County Council Scholars at NLCS 1910-1930;

medical record register 1882-1884; Miss Buss Gymnasium medical notes 1882-1886; Gymnasium medical reports 1885; Mrs Hoggan's private (medical) notes 1882-1885; Mrs Hoggan's medical notes to Miss Buss 1882-1885;

records of pupils' examinations including NLCS external examinations results 1873 - 1890; NLCS Special Examinations results 1874-1887, containing copies of some question papers; Register of external examinations results 1890-1930; University of London examinations results including general school examination, higher school examinations, Oxford and Cambridge examinations, general certificate of education, and O levels, 1931-1979; Record of GCSE certificates sent to girls who have left, 1952-1970; Register of honours gained chiefly by old pupils, 1911-1936; Class reports 1874-1876; Summary of old pupil reports 1884-1914; Holiday work reports 1882-1919; Results of school sports competitions 1890-1920, 1926-1938; Prize day reports and lists, 1850-1909; Printed prize lists 1874-1909; Upper V examination totals 1931-1976;

records of pupils meetings and societies including Prefects and monitors meetings minutes, 1880-1970 (incomplete); Form minute books including third to sixth forms 1948-1957; Lower Fifth form imposition book 1937-1939; Upper Fifth form after-school fixture book; Botanical Club minutes 1885-1891; Debating Society minutes 1887-1913; Sunshine League minutes 1904-1920; Science Club notes and queries 1909-1930, Science Club Committee minutes 1931-1937, Science Club General Meeting minutes 1932-1936, Science Club Photographic section and General meeting minutes 1961-1970; Classical Society minutes 1914-1927; Sketch Club minutes 1928-1936; Current Affairs Club news cuttings, 1942-1947;

certificates of NLCS students 1882-1914, 1936-1946;

examples of pupils work including Log book of Bromley Camp 1927, 1928, 1934, 1929; Writing book 1955-1956; Housewifery notes, with sewing samples, 1904; geography project, 1921, Dame Kitty's book - 1966 contains copies of poems by junior students; Cookery notes, (with recipes) 1904; compositions 1899; The Searchlight, manuscript magazine Vol 1 - 1912, Vol 2 1913, Vol 3, mss, 1914; photographs 1920s in student workbook titled Hygiene; displays 1947, 2000, 2002; journal of exchange visit 1967;

personal papers including Miriam Shillito's (English teacher) letters and papers 1935-1949, and photograph album 1919-1935; Monkhouse sketch books, [1935-1937]; Hill family - Gladys, Kathleen and Lucy - NLCS, student exercise books, notebooks, photos, letters, 1905-1919 (1 box);

personal papers of Dame Kitty Anderson (1903-1979), Headmistress from 1944 - 1965, comprising Founders Day address (undated), certificates to 1924-1971, greeting cards 1956; log book, 1943-1944 and Bath High School photos, 1973; thesis 'The treatment of vagrancy and the relief of the poor and destitute in the Tudor period, based upon the local records of London to 1552 and then to 1576', Submitted for PhD, University London, 1933; letters of congratulation on her DBE award; and related papers;

material relating to Madeleine McLauchlan, Headmistress from 1965-1985, comprising photographs, mainly speeches, invitations, and school files, [1965-1985]; and papers of Joan Clanchy, Headmistress from 1986-1997, comprising photographs, news cuttings, letters and school files [1985-1997];

records relating to the Association of former pupils of NLCS including reports of the Old Pupils Association, 1874-1901; minutes of Old Girls Association general meetings 1916-1939; Old Girls Association attendance book (with addresses) 1916-1953; minutes of Old North Londoners Association Committee 1916-1956; minutes of Old North Londoners Association Annual Business meetings 1941-1979;

records of the Parents Guild including minutes of the Parents Guild Committee 1928-1973, Parents Guild cash book 1928-1940;

financial records of the school including Registration fees, 1963-1972; Fees ledgers 1879, 1939-1943, 1945-1956; Fee books 1872-1976 (incomplete); Ledgers, 1854-1858, 1872-1907, 1910-1982; Day book 1872-1875; Cash books 1872-1907, 1924-1926, 1938-1986; Cash journal 1910-1952; Cash payments 1952-1964; Petty cash books 1921-1926, 1930-1941, 1963-1974; Cash book (House) 1905-1910, 1910-1924; House Keeping petty cash book 1911-1915; Botany and Chemistry cash book, 1914-1961; Physics petty cash book 1917-1975; Staff Committee accounts 1937-1968; Staff salaries books 1875-1923, 1932-1950; NLCS superannuation book 1922-1950; Vouchers II (bills) 1899-1912 ; House receipts 1895-1915; and printed copies of audited accounts;

scrap books and news cuttings collections including scrapbook titled 'Edinburgh Schools' containing pamphlets and notes on schools in Edinburgh, [1871-1872]; newspaper cuttings 1871-1892 relating to NLCS, Camden School, and women's education; general newspaper cuttings 1883-1892; news cutting relating to the School, 1899-1900; news cuttings relating to Frances Mary Buss, 1894-1900; Scrap book of printed critiques of 'Our Magazine, 1883-1893; and two albums containing pamphlets and press cuttings 1850-1876, 1877-1914; Elizabeth II Coronation cuttings; press cuttings relating to former pupils (undated);

records relating to Frances Mary Buss House (FMBH), Bromley-by-Bow, including FMBH Society (executive) committee minutes 1919-1931; Society minutes 1927-1936; general meetings minutes 1924-1968; attendance at Annual General Meetings, 1932-1970; bank book 1932-1944; receipt books 1968-1978; cash books 1925-1929, 1937-1941; FMBH Thrift Club ledgers 1953-1969-1979; FMBH log book of evacuation to Oxford,1940-1942; photographs and drawings including drawings of Sandall Rd buildings, 1939; photographs of school exterior, 1982; albums depicting school life [1900-2000]; NLCS Senior Dramatic Club albums, 1910-1938; evacuation to Luton 1939; school photograph albums, 1877, 1892, 1895 1896, 1900; staff holiday album, 1897; collection of forms, sports, events and staff photographs [1920-1950]; glass plate slides, including images of staff members and pupils, also relating to missionary work (approx 75 slides); photographs of Dame Alice Owen and Dame Kitty Anderson. 1949; photographs of staff and pupil groups, [1850-2003]; various maps and plans relating to the school premises; copy of typescript essay 'Pioneers of women's education in Victorian Britain, a study of the problems found in the education of middle class women in Victorian Britain and the work of the women who solved them', Valerie McAlister, 1992; copies of thesis 'Common threads, curriculum relationship between mathematics and needlework in the history of education', Mary Harris;

publications including Our Magazine, 1875-2000; Camden Magazines 1948-1956, 1958-1959, 1961-1967; NLCS Final year/Sixth form year book 1992-2002; Omnibuss Magazine (Junior School), 1996-present; Online Magazine (publication of the Old North Londoners), 1995-present;

boxes of papers relating to School Advisory Council; Applications for Headmistress 1917, 1940; Fees, free places, scholarships and subsidies by local councils 1920s-1930s; 1990-1992; National Curriculum Council; FMB House, Bromley; Canons Month, 1960s and Vice Versa, 1980s; Done family; Camden School; Head Mistress's Conference 1964; London County Council Minutes and Reports 1901-1911, 1912, 1920, 1921; Education Bills 1869-1901 and departmental memoranda; Centenary letters; Association of Head Mistresses 1887-1977; Direct Grant; Centenary Press;

Audio visual material including video about Kitty Anderson 1965-1979, and audio cassette recording of Open University Program on Frances Mary Buss and Dorothea Beale, NLCS Handel Concert [1985], Women's House, 2000, NLCS Founders Day, Memorial Service for student, 2002;

audio visual material relating to the history of NLCS and Canons, includes 'Everyone Matters', BBC, 1965 featuring Dame Kitty Anderson, and scenes of school life; and 'Story of Canons: nine centuries of building at Canons', 1997.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

By appointment. Available to bona fide researchers only. Contact the Mrs Karen Morgan, Archivist, North London Collegiate School, Canons, Edgware HA8 7RJ, Tel: 020 8952 0912. Email:
Access restrictions apply to material containing sensitive personal and institutional data.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies available subject to the physical condition of the materials. Researchers may be asked to contribute to costs.

Finding aids:

Archive database (incomplete) may be consulted in the School Library

Archival Information

Archival history:

The main collection has been generated and retained in situ by the School.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Other material has been acquired from various unrecorded sources over time. The Hill family papers were purchased by the School in [1999].

Allied Materials

Related material:

Papers of Frances Mary Buss and family, 1845-1935; and papers of Sophia Bryant (1850-1922), [1871]-1959, also held by North London Collegiate School.

Publication note:

And their works do follow them, the story of North London Collegiate School 1850-2000, Nigel Watson, James and James, London 2000;

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; And their works do follow them, the story of North London Collegiate School 1850-2000, Nigel Watson, James and James, London 2000; The North London Collegiate School 1850-1950, A hundred years of girls' education, Essays in honour of the centenary of the Frances Mary Buss Foundation, Oxford University Press, London 1950; North London Collegiate School website
Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
September 2003

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