A brief history of Redmaids’ High

Our distinguished history and our long-standing experience and expertise in educating girls helps us to be the best independent school for girls’ in Bristol.
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Where it all began

When Redmaids’ High School was formed in 2016, it brought together two schools with a combined 500 years of history and expertise in single-sex education, and a heritage dating back to 1634, maintaining our position as the oldest surviving girls’ school in the country.

The Red Maids’ School – One man’s vision

The Red Maids’ School, founded in 1634, by Mayor and MP of Bristol, John Whitson. A wealthy merchant, he tragically outlived all three of his daughters. Perhaps because of this, he left his estate for the foundation of The Red Maids’ Hospital.

In his will Whitson wrote that this unique establishment would be created for “40 poor women and children”. He also said that they would be “apparelled in red” – a cloth that he himself manufactured. Whitson’s financial legacy continues to the present day. It funds scholarships and bursaries, which Redmaids’ High School gives to girls from a wide range of backgrounds.

Redland High School – Light and empowerment

Redland High School provided exceptional education for girls for over 130 years, establishing itself as one of the top independent girls’ schools in the South West.

Opened by Reverends T G Rose and Urijah Thomas in 1882, the first premises were two rented properties in Redland, Bristol where Headmistress Miss Elizabeth Cocks taught just four girls. From that small beginning numbers quickly rose. By 1885 the school had 154 pupils on the register and had moved to Redland Court, an 18th century mansion.

The school adopted a powerful motto, ‘So Hateth She Derknesse’, from a Chaucer poem, along with the virtuous daisy as a school symbol. These words and image epitomise the school’s mission to open girls up to the light and empower them with learning.

Our two founding schools live on

The history of these two great schools is marked on Founders’ Commemoration Day, when Redmaids’ High School forms a procession through the streets of the city to a service at Bristol Cathedral.

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