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September 22, 2023

A Short History of Saint Felix – The Impressive Margaret Isabella Gardiner!

I have always loved asking the question why. I guess that is why I went to study History as I searched for more answers to endless questions; it is a habit that hasn’t disappeared yet. To my delight, my wonderful PA, Cat, produced a book that recounts the history of the school and our amazing founder that has provided me with a more comprehensive understanding of the foundation of this special institution. It turns out that Margaret Isabella Gardiner was the daughter of a renowned historian, and her mother was the youngest daughter of the founder of the Catholic Apostolic Church (the Irvingite Church). And even more noteworthy is the fact that Miss Gardiner was a direct descendant of Oliver Cromwell, the dominant figure in English politics during a short-lived period of republicanism after the execution of Charles I. It is said that Miss Gardiner shared two traits with Oliver Cromwell: a complete lack of a sense of humour and a single-minded determination. Whilst I can not pass comment on her sense of humour, it is clear that she was utterly determined to found a school of her own, conducting preliminary consultations with some of the leading pioneers of the emancipation of women at that time. Fast forward to January 1897 and Saint Felix School started up in Aldeburgh with seven pupils. By Easter there were seventeen on the roll necessitating the move to Southwold and a larger location where various houses were rented to form the school. In 1902, the school settled on its current location and Miss Gardiner had succeeded in establishing a school for the Edwardian era that has lasted and continued to thrive.

It is a real pleasure to follow in the footsteps of such an impressive and pioneering woman. She was determined to ensure a rich, varied, and academic education for girls at a time when this was not the norm. She was a leader, trailblazer, and innovator; I will do everything in my power to ensure that I honour her legacy.

Vision Evening
I look forward to welcoming many of you this evening to hear more about the future plans for Saint Felix. For those unable to make it, my talk will be available on a live stream. I hope that you find it both enjoyable and informative as Saint Felix looks to strengthen its provision and facilities across all facets of the educational delivery.

Safeguarding and Pastoral Care at Saint Felix School
Safeguarding and supporting our pupils is paramount at Saint Felix School and overseen by Mrs Alicia Mann, Assistant Headteacher, Designated Safeguard Lead and Pastoral Lead. We pride ourselves on our nurturing and inclusive school community in which our pupils feel safe and able to flourish. Please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Alicia Mann if there is anything you wish to discuss regarding your child – or 01502 722175

Health and Safety Update
Following recent checks, an out of use external building which has previously been identified as having low grade asbestos within was deemed in need of removal. The area is already out of bounds and remains cordoned off. Removal plans have been brought forward and work will be conducted as swiftly as possible with minimal impact to the school.

Yours sincerely,
Matthew Oakman