Throughout history the women of Sherborne have made huge contributions to life in the town and beyond.  These pioneers of the past have shaped the world we live in today.

We know that there are many more strong women of Sherborne than those named on this list, but we hope by highlighting the achievements of these few that we will learn of the lives and achievements of more women whose names should be celebrated.

With thanks to Barbara Elsmore, Dorothy Goldsack, Judy Nash, Ann Smith, and George Tatham who have helped compile this list, and to all the strong women of Sherborne who have blazed a trail for others to follow.

Rachel Hassall
Sherborne School Archivist
June 2019

Strong Women of Sherborne (A-Z by surname):

Margaret Barnard (1625-1716): servant for over 70 years to the Earls of Bristol and their successors. 
Margaret Barnard was born at Stambourne, Essex in 1625.  For over 70 years she was a servant to the Earls of Bristol and, when she died on 10 April 1716, she was servant to William Lord Digby.  She was buried on 13 April 1716 at Castleton church, Sherborne, where her memorial states, ‘Here lieth the body of Margaret Barnard, and old faithful servant to the Earls of Bristol and their successors above seventy years.  She gave twenty pounds towards the building of this church, and departed this life April the tenth, anno Dom. 1716, aged 91’.

Hannah Bettinson (née Baugh): proprietor of the Sherborne Mercury newspaper 1746-1749.
Hannah’s early life remains obscure but in 1736 at St Luke’s Church Chelsea she married William Bettinson, who became the printer and proprietor of the Sherborne Mercury (first issue 22 February 1737).  Two children were born in Sherborne. William died in August 1746 and on 8 September, Hannah announced that she was ‘to keep on the Printing Business and publish the said Paper Weekly as usual’. This continued until early 1749 when the Sherborne Mercury and The Western Flying Post or Yeovil Mercury (proprietor Robert Goadby) were united and Goadby became the sole owner and printer. Rachel seems to have left Sherborne, as an auction advertisement for William’s household goods appeared in February 1749.  Her next appearance is, sadly, in a debtor’s prison in Nottingham.

Georgiana Binnie-Clarke (1871-1947): author, journalist, ardent supporter of female farmers in prairie Canada.
Georgiana was in Sherborne in 1871, the daughter of Arthur Binnie-Clarke, manager of the Digby Hotel, and Maria Binnie-Clark (née Letheby).  In 1905, she purchased 320 acres of land near Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan and set up as a single woman farmer.  Georgiana wanted to prove that homesteading in Canada was a viable option for the ‘odd women’ of Britain for whom marriage was not always an option, she also led a campaign to amend homestead legislation so that single women could buy homesteads.  Georgiana wrote two books about her experiences in Canada, A Summer on the Canadian Prairie (1910) and Wheat and Woman (1914).  During the First World War, Georgiana returned to England and organised female agricultural labourers for the Dept of Labour.  Georgina died on 22 April 1947 at 123, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.  Find out more about Georgiana Binnie-Clarke.

Louisa Bow (née Barnes) (1905-1988): co-owner of L. & C.E. Bow, coal merchants, Newell Grange.
Louisa was born on 16 August 1905 at Harlow, Essex, the eldest daughter of John Barnes and Mary Ann Barnes (née Fielder).  From 1913 to 1935, John Barnes was licensee of the Crown Inn at Newell in Sherborne.  A former head girl at Lord Digby’s School, Louisa went on to Salisbury Teacher Training College and then taught at Knowle Hill Approved School for Girls at Kenilworth.  In 1930, Louisa married Charlie Bow and together they ran L. & C.E. Bow, hauliers and coal merchants, from Newell Grange until 1982.  Louisa died at Sherborne on 5 September 1988 and by her will she left Newell Grange to Sherborne School.  Find out more about Louisa Bow.

Harriet Clarke (1846-1926): Headmistress of Lord Digby’s School 1885-1905.
Harriet Clarke was born in Cheltenham in 1846, the daughter of Joseph Clarke, a tailor, and Maria Clarke.  On 10 March 1885 Harriet was appointed headmistress of Lord Digby’s School in Westbury, Sherborne.  Harriet’s twenty years as headmistress at Lord Digby’s School were not easy ones, while trying to improve the education of the girls at the school, she was constantly struggling to keep it financially afloat.  In 1897, the school moved from Westbury to the former St Swithin’s Laundry building in Newland (now Waitrose car park), where it remained for 34 years until it moved to Sherborne House.  In 1905, Harriet left Lord Digby’s School and moved back to Gloucestershire, setting up Girton House School in Churchdown, where she died in February 1926, aged 79.  Find out more about Harriet Clarke.

Lady Anne Digby (née Russell) (c.1620-1697): saved Sherborne Castle from destruction during the English Civil War.
Lady Anne Russell, daughter of Francis, 4th Earl of Bedford, was married to George Lord Digby.  Lady Anne’s husband supported the Royalist cause during the English Civil War and in 1642 their home Sherborne Lodge (the original name of Sherborne ‘new’ Castle) was besieged by Parliamentarian forces commanded by Lady Anne’s brother, William Earl of Bedford.  Lady Anne is reputed to have ridden out to tell her brother that if he persisted in his hostile intentions he would find his sister’s bones in the ruins of the Lodge.  She extracted from him a promise (or ‘Saveguard’) that his soldiers would not ‘meddle with, molest or trouble’ the occupants of Sherborne Lodge.  The ‘Saveguard’ is held in the archives at Sherborne Castle.

Lady Jane Digby (née Noel) (1664-1733): founder of a charity school for poor girls.
In 1686, Lady Jane Noel, daughter of Edward Noel, 1st Earl of Gainsborough, married William Digby, 5th Baron Digby.  Lady Jane set up  a charity school in Sherborne for poor girls.  After her death in 1733, her husband continued her work and in 1743 endowed in his wife’s memory Lord Digby’s School for the educating and clothing of thirteen poor girls.  From 1931 to 1992 the school was based at Sherborne House.

Florence Drewe (née Grabham) (1874-1961): costume designer for the 1905 Sherborne Pageant.
Florence Grabham was born in Pontefract, Yorkshire, in 1874, daughter of Charles Grabham, surgeon and physician, and Eliza Jane (née Leatham).  In 1898 she married Alfred John Drewe, manager of the Wiltshire and Dorset Bank, and lived at Bank House, Cheap Street, Sherborne.  Florence was responsible for designing the costumes for the 1905 Sherborne Pageant.  Louis Napoleon Parker, the master of the Sherborne Pageant, wrote in his autobiography that what Florence Drewe didn’t know about costumes wasn’t worth knowing!  Florence died on 20 May 1961 at 10 Littledown Road, Bournemouth.  Find out more about Florence Drewe.

Alberta Gartell (1867-1940): civilian casualty of the bombing of Sherborne on 30 September 1940.
Spinster sisters Alberta Beatrice Gartell (1867-1940) and Louisa Charlotte Gartell (1853-1940) lived in Lower Newland, Sherborne.  Louisa had previously been housekeeper for her father Joseph Ridout Gartell, who had a china shop at the Abbey Gate House in Church Lane, and Alberta had worked as a governess.  Alberta died on 30 September 1940 when their cottage in Lower Newland received a direct hit during the bombing of Sherborne.  Her body was later identified by her friend Monica Hutchings.  Although Louisa was not injured during the bombing she died from shock two days later on 2 October 1940. Alberta Gartell is remembered on the Civilian Memorial in Half Moon Street, Sherborne.

Ruth Gervis (née Streatfeild) (1894-1988): artist, illustrator, sculptor and teacher. 
Ruth was born on 13 August 1894 at Frant, Sussex, the daughter of the Rt. Rev. William Champion Streatfeild and Janet Mary (née Venn).  In 1928, she married Henry ‘Shor’ Gervis, a physics teacher at Sherborne School.  From 1941 to 1953, Ruth was art mistress at Sherborne School and was the School’s first full-time female member of teaching staff.  On leaving Sherborne School in 1953 Ruth was art mistress at Lord Digby’s School, a post she held until 1964.  In 1959, Ruth’s statue of St Aldhelm was unveiled at the opening of St Aldhelm’s School (now the Gryphon School).  The Ruth Gervis Room at Sherborne Museum, named in her honour in 2016, features three of Ruth’s wildlife collages.  Ruth also illustrated the children’s story Ballet Shoes (1936), written by her sister Noël Streatfeild.  Find out more about Ruth Gervis.

Rachel Goadby (née Bosher) (c. 1721-1790): proprietor of the Sherborne Mercury newspaper 1778-1790.
Rachel Goadby was married to Robert Goadby  (1721–1778), publisher and proprietor of the Western Flying Post, or, Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury newspaper.  Following the death of her husband Rachel was proprietor of the Sherborne Mercury newspaper from 1778 until her death in 1790.  Rachel is also credited with having taken down the dictated memoirs of the Bamfylde Moore Carew (‘King of the Beggars’), which her husband published in 1749 under the title An Apology for the Life of Bamfylde Moore Carew.  Rachel is buried with her husband in the glebe at St Cuthbert’s chapel, Oborne.

Dame Margaret Gough/Goffe (née Derby): co-founder of Sherborne Almshouse. 
In 1437/8, Margaret gave the Julian Hospice on The Green to the Almshouse of St. John Baptist and St John the Evangelist, Sherborne, thereby becoming a co-founder of that institution.  The Almshouse provided for ‘Twelve pore feeble and ympotent old men and four old women’ to be cared for by a housewife.  In December 1949, The Julian became the home of the first full-time branch library in Dorset.

Evelina Haverfield (née Scarlett) (1867-1920): founding member of the Sherborne branch of the NUWSS.
Evelina was born on 9 August 1867 at Inverlochy Castle, Fort William, Inverness, the daughter of William Frederick Scarlett, 3rd Baron Abinger, and Helen Magruder.  Following her marriage to Major Henry Wykeham Brook Tunstall Haverfield in 1887, she lived firstly at West Hall, Longburton, and from 1894 at Marsh Court in Caundle Marsh.  In 1909, Evelina was a founder member of the Sherborne branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).  She later joined the militant WSPU and was arrested in 1909 with Emmeline Pankhurst after they attempted to enter the House of Commons to present the Prime Minister with a petition.  With the outbreak of war in 1914, the women’s suffrage societies encouraged their members to abandon their campaign and support the war effort.  Evelina was pivotal in forming the Women’s Emergency Corps, the Women’s Volunteer Reserve (WVR), and was Commandant in Chief of the Women’s Reserve Ambulance (Green Cross Society).  She worked with Scottish Women’s Hospitals in Serbia and founded the Hon. Evelina Haverfield’s Fund for Serbian Children,  setting up orphanages at Uzitza and Bajina Bašta. Evelina died at Uzie, Serbia on 21 March 1920, aged 52 and was buried at Bajina Bašta.  In 1923, a memorial tablet was installed in her memory at Bishop’s Caundle church in Dorset.  Find out more Evelina Haverfield.

Margaret Frances Hayter (1920-1943): the only Second World War Commonwealth War Grave in Sherborne Cemetery commemorating a woman.
Margaret Hayter was born on 26 January 1923, the daughter of Harold William Hayter, master draper at the Sherborne Drapery Stores, and Mary Margaret Hayter (née Ogden) of 4, Sunnyside Terrace, North Road, Sherborne.  Margaret was educated at Lord Digby’s School and worked as a draper’s assistant at Messrs. Phillips & Son.  In December 1941, Corporal Margaret Hayter joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).  She died of pulmonary tuberculosis at Dorset County Home, Bournemouth Road on 24 July 1943, aged 20, and was buried at Sherborne Cemetery on 27 July 1943.  Find out more about Margaret Hayter.

Monica Hutchings (née Scott) (1917-1977): author of Romany Cottage, Silverlake.
From 1938 to 1940, Monica lived at Romany Cottage (now known as Keeper’s Cottage) at Silverlake near Sherborne. She was only 21 when she set up home in this remote cottage and supported herself initially by selling chocolates at Yeovil cinema and later working in a shop in Sherborne.  She wrote Romany Cottage, Silverlake (1946) about this happy period of her life and included in it her own photographs.  On 30 September 1940, Monica was working in Sherborne when it was heavily raided by German bombers.  She was later asked to identify the body of her elderly friend Alberta Gartell who was killed that day when her cottage in Lower Newland received a direct hit.  Monica married twice, first in 1941 to Herbert Hutchings and secondly in 1951 to Lewis Baber.  She was a prolific author and wrote numerous books about the West Country, she was also friends with the novelist Theodore Powys and his brother Littleton Powys.  In 1967, Monica founded with fellow writer Rodney Legg the Tyneham Action Group, which in 1975 secured from the Ministry of Defence partial public access to the village.  Monica died on 15 March 1977 and was buried at Brackley Wood Burial Ground, Carradale, Argyl & Bute, Scotland.

Ada Kearvell ARRC (1871-1947): matron at the Yeatman Hospital 1908-1934, awarded the Royal Red Cross medal.
Ada Elizabeth Kearvell was born in 1871 at Warfield, Berkshire, the daughter of Francis Kearvell and Charlotte (née Sparkes).  She trained at the Royal Devonport Hospital and came to the Yeatman Hospital as a staff nurse in 1901.  In 1908 she was appointed matron, a position she held until her retirement in 1934.  During the First World War, the Yeatman Hospital served as a military hospital and it was in recognition of Ada’s services nursing the wounded soldiers, often working for 20 hours at a stretch, that she was awarded the Royal Red Cross medal (ARRC), which she received from George V at Buckingham Palace on 20 April 1918.  Following her retirement in 1934, Ada lived at the aptly named ‘Resthaven’ in Lenthay Road, Sherborne, where she died on 1 November 1947.  At the Yeatman Hospital, Ada’s Royal Red Cross medal is on display in the Out-Patient reception, and the Ada Kearvell Suite is named in her honour.  Find out more Ada Kearvell.

Amrit Kaur (1889-1963): India’s first Minister of Health and President of the World Health Assembly. 
Princess Amrit Kaur was born in 1889 in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.  Her father, Prince Harnam Singh, a son of Sikh Maharajah of Kapurthala, had converted to Christianity and in 1902 he sent Amrit to Sherborne School for Girls for a Christian education.  While at Sherborne School for Girls Amrit became Head Girl and School Games Captain.  During the First World War she helped found the Indian Red Cross and served as Chairperson for 14 years.  She was Secretary to Mahatma Gandhi for 16 years, and from 1947 to 1957 served as India’s first Minister of Health in Nehru’s government, becoming the first woman to hold cabinet rank.  In 1950, Amrit was elected President of the World Health Assembly, the first woman and first Asian to hold the post.  She co-founded the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and served as the Chairperson of the All India Women’s Education Fund Association.  She worked to reduce illiteracy and eradicate child marriages and the purdah system for women.  In 1964 she was awarded the René Sand Prize for distinguished social service on the world’s stage.  Find out more about Amrit Kaur.

Catherine Frances (‘Kitty’) Macready (née Atkins) (1806-1852): actress.
Catherine Atkins, the daughter or a Scottish scene painter, had first met the actor and theatre manager William Charles Macready (1793-1873) in Glasgow when she was nine-years-old and he scolded her for not knowing her lines.  They married when Catherine was eighteen and during their 28 year marriage they had ten children.  In 1850, Macready retired from the stage and moved his family to Sherborne where he rented Sherborne House from Lord Digby.  On signing the lease in May 1850, Macready wrote in his diary ‘God grant that it may be for the good and happiness of my beloved wife and children, and that our lives may be fruitful of good and sweet in peace here.’  The following year in September 1851, Macready was asked to become President of Sherborne’s Literary and Scientific Institute and, having first discussed the matter with Catherine, he accepted the post.  Catherine died the following year of tuberculosis, just two years after the birth of her youngest son, and was buried in the family vault at Kensal Green Cemetery.  After her death, Macready’s friend Charles Dickens wrote expressing his condolences, adding ‘I have known her so well – have been so happy in her regard – have been so light-hearted with her – have interchanged so many tender remembrances of you with her when you were far away, and have seen her ever so simply and truly anxious to be worthy of you’.  In March 1860, Macready moved to Cheltenham, Sherborne House having become too large for him and his depleted family.

Elizabeth Marden (née Davies) (1865-1940): civilian casualty of the bombing of Sherborne on 30 September 1940.
After the death of her husband William Marden in 1921, Elizabeth, a state registered nurse, ran his bakery business in Upper Newland.  She was killed in Newland during the bombing of Sherborne on 30 September 1940 and is remembered on the Civilian Memorial in Half Moon Street, Sherborne.

Beatrice Mulliner (1866-1940): first headmistress of Sherborne School for Girls. 
In 1899 Beatrice Mulliner was appointed Headmistress of Sherborne School for Girls, a post she held for thirty years, from when the school first opened on 20 September 1899 at Ramsam House on Greenhill with just 14 pupils, until she left in 1929 when the school roll was 287.  In 1903, she oversaw the School move to its current Bradford Road site. From 1929 until her death in 1940, Beatrice Mulliner was Principal of Wadhurst College, Sussex.

Elizabeth Myers (1912-1947), novelist and short-story writer. 
During her short life Elizabeth Myers wrote three novels, A Well Full of Leaves (1943), The Basilisk of St James’s (1945) and Mrs Christopher (1946), and numerous short stories.  Elizabeth was born in Manchester on 23 December 1912.  Having left school at the age of 14, she moved to London and worked as a secretary in Fleet Street.  Elizabeth began writing short stories for newspapers and magazines and made friends in literary circles with the likes of Eleanor Farjeon and Arthur Waugh.  In 1943 Elizabeth met and married Littleton Powys, the former headmaster of Sherborne Preparatory School, to whom she had been introduced by Arthur Waugh.  However, their marriage was short-lived and Elizabeth died of tuberculosis in 1947 at their home Quarry House in The Avenue, Sherborne, aged just 34.   Following her death Littleton donated 500 of the books from her library to the Dorset County Library, in each book was an inscription saying that the book had come from her library ‘because public libraries meant so much to her’.  The Letters of Elizabeth Myers, edited by Littleton Powys, were published in 1951.  Elizabeth is buried with her husband in Sherborne Cemetery.  Find out more about Elizabeth Myers.

Our Lady of Northerne. 
The parish church of All Hallows, a large six-bay church built in the 14th century against the west wall of Sherborne Abbey, included within its structure a side chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Northerne, a local saint to whom the women of Sherborne made bequests of rings and ribbons.  The church was demolished c.1540.

Elizabeth ‘Bess’ Raleigh (née Throckmorton) (1565-1647): Lady-in-Waiting to Elizabeth I and wife of Sir Walter Raleigh.
Bess was dismissed by Elizabeth I as a Lady-in-Waiting when it was discovered that she had secretly married Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618).  The Queen never forgave Bess who was permanently exiled from court.  In 1592 Sir Walter acquired Sherborne ‘old’ Castle and its estates and in 1594 built a new house, Sherborne Lodge (now Sherborne ‘new’ Castle), in the deer park.  Exiled from court, Sherborne became Bess’s home and was where she brought up her son, Walter (b.1593). On the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, James I convicted Raleigh of conspiracy and sent him to the Tower of London where he was able to live with Bess and their son Walter.  Another son, Carew (b.1605), was conceived and born during the term of his imprisonment.  Sir Walter was released in 1616 but executed for treason on 29 October 1618.  Following his execution Bess kept her husband’s embalmed head with her in a red velvet bag for the rest of her life. Bess died in 1647 and was buried with her husband at St Margaret’s, Westminster.  Lady Betty’s pinks are said to still grow on the ruined walls of Sherborne Old Castle.

Barbara Rawson (1893-1953): dedicated her life to serving Sherborne.
Barbara Rawson of Brecon House, Long Street, was the daughter of Philip Heathcote Rawson and Lilias Campbell Rawson (née Clarke-Preston).  She was educated at Sherborne School for Girls (1904-1909) and during the First World War joined the local VAD and nursed at Greenhill hospital in Sherborne.  Her younger brother Philip was killed during the First World War and is named on the town war memorial.  Barbara never married but instead dedicated herself to Sherborne, serving as a local magistrate, JP, Chairman of Sherborne Women’s Conservative Club, and a Governor of Lord Digby’s School.  She also made the communicants kneeling mats for the Lady Chapel of Sherborne Abbey.   The Rawson Hall in Westbury was purchased by her father for the use of the Church Lads’ Brigade Cadet Corps.  Find out more about Barbara Rawson.

St Antony’s Convent School and the Order of the Religious of the Christian Instruction.
On 7 June 1891, Reverend Mother Ignace Pollenus, the Superior of the Religious of the Christian Instruction in Ghent, Belgium, arrived in Sherborne with seven nuns and established a Roman Catholic community at Westbury in a former Sherborne School boarding house called ‘Mapperty’.  The Order had a large college in Ghent with many English students whose parents had encouraged them to open a school in England, and so in June 1891 they opened St Antony’s Convent School in Sherborne which offered to young ladies the opportunity of a high class education ‘with Continental advantages’.  Later, junior and preparatory schools were opened, which local Anglican girls and boys could attend. The schools proved very successful and in 1948 the senior school moved to Leweston Manor, where they were joined in 1993 by the younger children.  The Church of the Sacred Heart and St Aldhelm was built in the grounds of the convent and opened in April 1894.  Early members of the community are buried in Sherborne cemetery where there is a monument to their memory.

St Emerenciana: the only church in the country dedicated to her memory.
The Feast of St Emerenciana (also known as St Emerentiana), the patron saint of stomach problems and colic, is celebrated by the Roman Catholic church on 23 January.  St Emerentiana’s chapel at Nethercombe in Sherborne appears to be the only church in the country dedicated to her memory.  Today the chapel is redundant and forms part of the Sherborne International School site. The feast day of St Emerenciana is included in the Sherborne Missal, a digital copy of which can be viewed at Sherborne Museum.  The Catholic church of St Aldhelm and the Sacred Heart in Westbury, Sherborne has a statue of St Emerenciana holding her trade-mark stones and lilies.  The statue was a gift from Belgium, the original home of the nuns who set up home in Westbury in 1891.  Find out more about St Emerenciana.

St Juthware: shrine at Sherborne Abbey.
In the 11th century, a shrine was dedicated in Sherborne Abbey to St Juthware.  The shrine became a place of pilgrimage until the dissolution of the Abbey and monastery in 1539.  Juthware, a young lady from Halstock, was beheaded by her step-brother who wrongly accused her of having a child out of marriage.  Miraculously, Juthware is said to have picked up her own head and carried it to Halstock church where she place in on the altar. Today, the only reminder of St Juthware’s shrine in Sherborne Abbey is in the Great East Window where the saint can be seen holding her severed head.

Sarah Smith (née Brackstone) (1801-1891): accused of ‘witching’ her neighbour’s daughter.
In September 1884, Tamar Humphries (54) appeared before the Sherborne Petty Sessions accused of attacking her neighbour Sarah Smith (83) with a darning needle in her garden at Coldharbour.  Tamar accused Sarah of ‘witching’ her daughter who was crippled with rheumatism.  The court found against Tamar who was fined costs of £1.11.6.  Tamar and Sarah remained neighbours until Sarah died of natural causes on 30 December 1891, aged 89.  She was found in a crouching position beside her fire grate by a little girl who came to visit her.

Maude Steele GM ISM (1901-1997): awarded the George Medal for bravery during the bombing of Sherborne in 1940.
Maude Steele was born in Sherborne in 1901, the daughter of George Steele (later licensed victualler of the Traveller’s Rest in Horsecastles) and Blanche Steele (née Moore) of 12, George Street.  Maude entered the telephone service in 1916, and was appointed Supervising Telephonist at Sherborne in August 1939. At 4.40 pm on Monday, 30 September 1940, Sherborne was heavily raided by a force of some 150 German bombers which dropped several hundred bombs (about 60 tons) in a straight line from Lenthay to Crackmore. About 86 buildings were destroyed and seventeen civilians died as a result of the bombings.  Despite the telephone exchange having received a direct hit, Maude refused to leave her post thereby ensuring that the emergency services were kept informed of the local situation.  In June 1941, Maude went to Buckingham Palace where she was awarded the George Medal by George VI who had instituted the medal on 24 September 1940.  In 1947, Maude was awarded the Imperial Service Medal.  In 1949, Maude married Arthur Edgar Davies (1886-1968) at Castleton church.  Maude died in Exmouth on 8 October 1887, aged 96.  Find out more Maude Steele.

Dame Emmeline Tanner (1876-1955): teacher, headmistress & educational reformer.
Emmeline Tanner was born at at Weston, Bath, in 1876.  Due to financial pressures she became a student teacher at the age of 13 and went on to teach at private schools in Birmingham, Southampton, and Halifax.  Unable to attend university as an internal student, she studied for an external degree, graduating with first-class honours in history in 1904.  In 1905 she was appointed as history mistress at Sherborne School for Girls, a post she held until 1909.  During her time at Sherborne she wrote her only book, The Renaissance and the Reformation: a text book of European History (1908).  After leaving Sherborne she was headmistress at Nuneaton High School, Bedford High School, and lastly at Roedean.  A member of the Board of Education (Fleming) committee on public schools from 1942 to 1944, she helped draft education policy which led to the 1944 Education Act.  She believed in training girls for useful work in the world and encouraged them to use their vote.  In 1947 she was created DBE for services to education and given an honorary MA from the University of London.  Find out more Dame Emmeline Tanner.

Lucia Toogood: Sherborne’s first policewoman?
Lucia Toogood is named in the 1547 Sherborne Court Rolls as a ‘tithingman’ – a parish officer elected to preserve good order.

Mary Willmott (née Hudson) (1740-1815): Sherborne silk manufacturer 1787-1815.
Mary Willmott was married to William Willmott, a silk throwster.  Following her husband’s death in 1787, Mary managed his silk manufacturing business, taking her son Thomas into partnership in 1800.  Mary died on 11 October 1815 and was buried with her husband at Sherborne Abbey.  She is commemorated with other members of her family on the table tomb outside the main entrance to Sherborne Abbey.

Diana Ruth Wilson (1886-1969): botanical artist.
Diana Ruth Wilson was born in Sherborne in 1886, the daughter of Thomas Ward Wilson and Augusta Louisa Wilson (née Jarvis) of The Green, Sherborne, where Ruth’s father was housemaster from 1880 to 1905.  Diana was educated at Sherborne School for Girls during Miss Beatrice Mulliner’s headship.  She became friends with Littleton Powys who encouraged her interest in nature.  In 1914, Diana married the botanist Philip Furley Fyson and provided the botanical illustrations for many of his publications.  A large collection of Diana’s early botanical paintings (1902-1914) are held at Sherborne Museum. Find out more about Diana Ruth Wilson.

Charlotte Wingfield Digby (née Digby) (1864-1935): founder of Sherborne School for Girls. 
In 1899, Charlotte and her husband John Kenelm Wingfield Digby, founded Sherborne School for Girls.  The school opened on 20 September 1899 at Ramsam House on Greenhill with just 14 pupils, including five little boys.  Charlotte was also founder and governor of the Headington School for Girls at Oxford, a governor of Foster’s and Lord Digby’s Schools in Sherborne, and a life governor of the Yeatman Hospital.  She also worked for the Church Missionary Society, visiting mission stations in Central Africa, South China, and Palestine.

Elizabeth Young (1858-1952): ‘Mrs Gay’ matron at Sherborne School for 36 years.
Elizabeth Young was born at Longburton in 1858, the daughter of James Young, a farm labourer.  She first came to Sherborne School in 1888 to help nurse an epidemic and remained for ten years as matron of School House.  Elizabeth was then appointed matron of the School sanatorium in Acreman Street, but retired three years later to nurse her father.  In 1912, she returned as matron of the School Sanatorium, a post she held until her retirement in 1924.  During her time at Sherborne School Elizabeth was known by everyone as ‘Mrs Gay’ because it was thought that because her surname was the same as the Headmaster Edward Young this would cause confusion.  It is not known who chose the name for her, but it was said to have reflected her happy and cheerful nature, although it was widely acknowledged that she had an ability to show burning disapproval when necessary.  Find out more Elizabeth Young.

Further reading:
Katherine Barker, Sherborne Camera (The Dovecote Press Ltd., 1990).
Jonathan Barry & George Tatham, ‘Robert Goadby, The Sherborne Mercury and the Urban Renaissance in South-West England’, The English Urban Renaissance Revisited, ed. John Hinks and Catherine Armstrong (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018).
Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement. A Reference Guide 1866-1928 (Routledge, 2001).
Barbara Elsmore, Looking Back at Lord Digby’s School (2014).
Joseph Fowler, Mediaeval Sherborne (Longmans Ltd., 1951).
J.H.P. Gibb, The Book of Sherborne (Barracuda Books Ltd., 1981).
Rodney Legg, Sherborne and Castleton (Halsgrove, 2004).
Alec Oxford, The Known History of the Shops in Cheap Street, Sherborne (SDFHS, 2005).
Susan Penn & Ray Penn, A History of Long Street, Sherborne (SDFHS, 2008).
Gerald Pitman, Sherborne Observed (The Abbey Bookshop, 1983).
H.C. Thomson, Lord Digby’s School, Some Aspects of Its History (The Abbey Press, 1969).
Diana Trenchard, Women of Dorset (Dorset Books, 1994)
Barry Williams, So Many Opportunities. A Historical Portrait of Sherborne School for Girls (James & James, 1998).
Maria Wingfield Digby, Sir Walter Raleigh (Pitkin Publishing, 2018).

See also:
Sherborne and the fight for Women’s Suffrage
Sherborne School’s first female teachers
Matrons of the School Sanatorium
Evelina Haverfield’s recipe book

For further information please contact the School Archivist.

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