Camilla visits St Catherine's School in Bramley. Kit Sproson reports
Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall visited St Catherine’s School in Bramley on Thursday 13th February to help with the unveiling of two new buildings.
On a sunny winter’s day the Duchess officially opened the school’s Anniversary Halls and Speech Hall library, and also enjoyed a student-led tour of St Catherine’s.
During her visit Camilla chatted with staff and pupils, while discussing university aspirations and participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
In their welcome speech, head girls Megan von Spreckelsen and Lottie Palmer said it was thanks to the vision of the Duchess’ great-great grandfather, George Cubitt, that St Catherine’s exists.
The 1st Baron Ashcombe, MP for West Surrey, was one of the school’s founders in 1885, and his name lives on in one of the schoolhouses.
St Catherine’s is now an independent girls’ institution near Guildford, which is separated into preparatory and senior school for ages 11-18.
Anniversary Halls will house its new drama, music and sport facilities, where the Speech Hall library will provide dedicated sixth form study space.
On arrival Camilla was accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff of Surrey, the chairman of Surrey County Council, and St. Catherine’s two headmistresses.
She was then treated to a variety of entertainment from the pupils, including gymnastics, ballet and music.
Camilla also delighted the cast and crew of the school’s production of Hamlet, by revealing she is a huge fan of Shakespeare.
The Duchess was later presented with two books, one of which was a collection of poetry by internationally acclaimed author U. A. Fanthorpe.She also received a donation to the National Osteoporosis Society. Camilla is a patron and president of the society, and lost both mother and grandmother to the illness.
Camilla’s final stop was to visit the school chapel, where she was given a leather-bound book completed by students, telling part of the school’s history.
There she saw one of the chapel’s stained glass windows, dedicated by her great-grandfather to his wife.
“It was a wonderful day in the school’s history,” headmistress Alice Phillips said.
“The Duchess put everyone at their ease and was so gracious and charming; it felt very much as if we were welcoming her home!”
HRH spoke of the pride and joy she felt in her connection with St Catherine’s.
"You are all extremely lucky to be at such a wonderful school" she told the girls.
In his vote of thanks, Peter Martin, the Chairman of Governors wondered if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge might like to send a future little sister of Prince George to St Catherine’s.
We'll have to wait and see.