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Duchess of Gloucester dedicates foundation stone for new Performing Arts Centre at Princess Helena College

The Duchess of Gloucester was in the Hertfordshire village of Preston this week. She was visiting Princess Helena College, a private school for girls which has had close links with the monarchy for many years and will be celebrating its Bicentennial in 2020. The Duchess, who is President of the School had several engagements during her visit; in addition to laying a foundation stone for the new Performing Arts Centre, she also planted a rose in the restored rose garden and unveiled a Heritage Wall designed by six Year 11 pupils.

HRH Duchess of Gloucester plants a rose, picture by kind permission of Princess Helena College

Headmistress, Mrs Sue Wallace-Woodroffe said: “We are delighted to once again welcome HRH The Duchess of Gloucester to PHC. We’re very proud of our long history of royal patronage and, in particular, the positive support we receive for our plans to invest in first rate facilities for the girls”.

The school was formed in 1820, as the Adult Orphanage Institution and was originally intended for the daughters of servicemen or churchmen who had died, we were at the time around the end of the Peninsula Wars. Just over fifty years later in 1874, Princess Helena, 3rd daughter of Queen Victoria, became the School’s President and in 1879 the name was changed to the Princess Helena College. The Duchess of Gloucester became President in 1947, on the death of Princess Alice, she has visited the College a few times in the past to open new buildings.

The College is very Arts orientated, and many girls go on from the school to either Central St Martins or the Royal College of Music. She also planted a rose in the newly refurbished rose garden which was originally designed by the influential British horticulturalist and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll around 1911. The picture above shows the Duchess of Gloucester, accompanied by the Headmistress and Mrs Sally Burton, Deputy Lieutenant for Hertfordshire.

Around 200 roses are being planted, supplied by local business Harkness Roses of Hitchin who supplied the roses when the garden was first created. Parents and friends of PHC have purchased a rose for their daughters, ‘200 roses for 200 daughters’ and each rose has a permanent tag with the name of the rose and the name of the girl for who it is planted.

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