Princess Helena College

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Princess Helena College
Established 1820[1]
Headmistress Mrs Sue Wallace-Woodroffe
President HRH The Duchess of Gloucester[1]
Location Hitchin
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Local authority Hertfordshire
Gender Girls
Ages 11–18
Houses Gloucester, Windsor and York

Princess Helena College is an independent school for girls aged 11 to 18 in Preston near Hitchin in Hertfordshire, England.

The College is set in 183 acres of rolling hills, fields and beautiful woodland. It is housed in a Grade II* listed Queen Anne country house, formerly known as Temple Dinsley, which was redesigned by Edwin Lutyens, at the same time as the gardens were designed by his great friend, Gertrude Jekyll.[2]


It was one of the first academic schools for girls, founded for daughters of officers who had served in the Napoleonic Wars and daughters of Anglican clergy in 1820 by Miss Sophia Williams. It was originally established in Mornington Crescent, London before moving to Regent's Park and then Ealing. The school moved to Temple Dinsley in 1935.[1] In 1874, Princess Helena, Queen Victoria's third daughter, became President of the College, and the school has enjoyed royal patronage ever since.

The school today

As a small school all pupils really do receive individual attention from highly qualified; each girl is engaged in a programme of study and enrichment which is specifically tailored to meet her needs. At PHC they look beyond the academic syllabus, to encourage the girls with enterprise events, work experience, outside lecturers and internships provided by their Old Girl network of high achievers willing to offer fellow PHC girls an opportunity for a step up the career ladder.

At PHC they ensure your daughter is given the best possible skills and qualifications to succeed in a competitive world, the strength of character to thrive under pressure and the self-belief to be a leader in the 21st Century.

Class size

Girls of all abilities benefit from small classes and an excellent teacher to pupil ration. In Key Stage 3, classes rarely exceed eighteen and examination classes are often considerably smaller. Class sizes ensure that value is added to each girl's achievements whatever her ability.


Prep is homework timetabled for girls. It is intended to allow girls to work independently and in more depth on their academic subjects, as well as encouraging self-discipline and time management. From 4.15 to 5.45pm, the Library is a quiet, supervised work area where any girl may choose to study. Supervised prep for Year 7 & 8 girls is available during this time slot.


PHC wish to develop interpersonal and practical skills which will stand girls in good stead in later life and also to take the chance to broaden and deepen their wider interests. PHC encourage girls to try out new activities, as well as improve and expand existing passions.

The seven words of their SCITLLE programme; Serve, Create, Inspire, Thrive, Lead, Learn, Explore, are the backbone to the extracurricular programme and are used to direct all activities. The programme enables all girls to participate in a balanced range of activities and to ensure a well-structured and focused timetable for all year groups.

House system:

Each new pupil is allocated to one of three Houses: Gloucester, Windsor or York. The House system offers a platform for girls of varying ages to work together creatively, whether it be choreographing a House dance or researching for public speaking. House points are awarded for each event and girls can also earn point for outstanding pieces of work. The Houses embody the warm and light-hearted nature of the school.

Pastoral care

PHC is characterized by mutual respect between the girls and teachers, with all expected to accept responsibility for their own actions and to behave with care and consideration towards others.


There are two Boarding Houses; girls in Year 7-11 are housed in the Main School and Sixth Form are housed at Dower House. Year 11 and Sixth Form girls have single rooms whilst all other year groups share rooms with a number of girls depending on their age. Bath and shower rooms are shared by a small number of girls in each section of the House and there are common rooms, kitchens and other spaces for relaxation and games. Boarders have access to music practice rooms and sports facilities in evenings.

PHC offer a range of boarding options.

Recent Sixth From destinations:


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "History". Retrieved 2008-04-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Historic England. "Details from image database (162902)". Images of England.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links