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news museum opening l15 web main

On 17 January, the School’s new museum opened its doors to the public for the first time. Forty-three visitors enjoyed exhibits covering 450 years of the School’s history.

The Museum shows school life through the centuries, how the School has developed, its relationship with Highgate Village, and how it endured two world wars. On display are documents, photographs, artefacts and paintings from the School’s archive collection. Highlights include:

•    The Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I, which permitted Sir Roger Cholmeley to found a school at Highgate ‘for the education, institution and instruction of boys and youths in grammar’.
•    The slate used by Head Master John Bradley Dyne in the 19th century for taking the daily register of attendance.
•    First World War letters of schoolmaster Arthur Preston White who saw action in the Battles of Neuve Chapelle, Loos, Somme & Lys.
•    Photographs taken during the School’s evacuation to Devon during the Second World War.
•    Shrapnel from the V-1 flying bomb which landed in the School’s field on 28 June 1944.

Upstairs is an art gallery featuring works by Kyffin Williams and Anthony Green.

Due to overwhelming demand, the School marked the opening of the Museum with three separate ceremonies, which took place on 15 and 19 January. Upwards of 180 people congregated in the Tabernacle over the two nights. The crowd included donors to the museum’s fundraising campaign, parents, former pupils and local dignitaries.

A chance to look at the exhibits and ask questions of the Archivist, Julia Hudson, and the Curator, Henley Henley-Smith, were followed by speeches by the Head Master, Adam Pettitt, and by the Chairman of the Governors, John Mills. Adam informed the crowd that one of the pupils had volunteered him as an exhibit! He also spoke of the Museum being a place for Cholmeleians to meet and reminiscence, and for the local community to enjoy. For pupils, he said it was a space for them to connect with the history of the School, creating a sense of pride in their institution and a sense of community and longevity. He said he would like to see pupils learning about the preservation of historic collections and finding out what goes into putting a museum together.

It was particularly nice to see Cholmeleians recognising themselves in the photographs on display. One in particular was very pleased to see an image of himself cleaning an elephant at London Zoo in 1956.  Another spotted himself and his classmates in a 1950s photographs of one of Theodore Mallinson’s expeditions to Exmoor.

Each event was buzzing with excitement as the invitees engaged with exhibits, some of which have never been on public display before. The evenings were vibrant and seem to be enjoyed by all those who attended. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who donated to the Museum’s fundraising campaign. We could not have done it without you!

The museum is open to all on Saturdays during term time from 10am to 1pm. Parents may also like to visit on Wednesday lunchtimes (during term time) 12-1pm. Teachers and pupils can also visit any time during the working day.


Click on the thumbnail to view an image gallery.






Click on the thumbnail to view an image gallery of Mike Smith's illustrations.

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