The School of St Helen and St Katharine was formed in 1938 when St Helen’s in Abingdon and St Katharine’s in Wantage merged. Both schools were founded by the Community of St Mary the Virgin (CSMV).
St Helen’s was originally founded in 1903. When the School opened it had ten girls and one boy ranging in age from 4-17. The school buildings were opened by the daughter and granddaughter of Queen Victoria in 1906.
St Katharine’s was founded in 1894 as an offshoot of St Mary’s School, Wantage. School buildings were opened in an adjacent field in 1898 with 107 pupils.
The decision was taken to merge St Helen’s and St Katharine’s as numbers in both schools were falling. In 1938 56 girls from the former St Katharine’s school arrived at The School of St Helen and St Katharine bringing the total number of pupils to 220 (128 boarding).
Numbers continued to increase, including during the Second World War when parents were particularly keen to send their children to boarding school. The School has continued to expand both in numbers and property. In recent years an extensive building programme has been undertaken.
In 2016 a new Sport Centre opened with national league standard courts; it also has a fitness suite, an ergo suite and a group cycling room. In 2014 the new Science Centre opened providing 12 new laboratories, break out spaces and a 200sqm science themed glass atrium, and in September 2015 a new 3D Design Centre opened with space for ceramics and design and technology. Other facilities include a Performing Arts Centre, a state of the art library facility, a refurbished refectory, and an extended and revamped Sixth Form Centre.
Tribute is paid each year to benefactors and patron saints on St Kate’s Day held in November. In the morning there is a Eucharist, followed by events to raise money for the School's chosen charities. A highlight of the day is the lunchtime lacrosse fixture between St Helen's and the boys of Abingdon School's rugby A team.
The School Archivist, Mrs Georgina Blackmore, is always keen to hear from people who have school material or recollections that they wish to add to the School Archives. To get in touch please use the contact information below: