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News & Events > Reunions & Events > 150th Anniversary Service of Celebration & Thanksgiving

150th Anniversary Service of Celebration & Thanksgiving

On Wednesday 11th October, Governors, Alumnae, Parents, pupils & staff gathered at the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral for a special 150th Anniversary Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving.

On Wednesday 11th October, Governors, Alumnae, Parents, Supporters, pupils and staff gathered at the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral for a special Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving in honour of the 150th Anniversary of St Mary’s Calne.

The congregation of almost 600 people came together to celebrate 150 years of girl’s education, as created by the school’s Founders – Canon John Duncan, Ellinor Gabriel and Penelope Murray – who were clearly well ahead of their time when they founded St Mary’s School in Calne in 1873. All three were determined to provide a good education for girls at a time when this opportunity was scarce. It was due to their vision, tenacity and generosity, along with the support they had from the Bishop of Salisbury of the time, that we now, as a community, could gather and reflect how far girls education has come from those humble beginnings.

Following the Procession, the Service started with a warm welcome from the Revd Canon Anna Macham, Precentor of Salisbury Cathedral, who made everyone feel comfortable with her lovely anniversary best wishes. This was followed by Mr Michael Smyth who, as Acting Head, added his welcoming remarks to the proceedings.

School Chaplain, Revd Jonathan Beach, then gave an Opening Prayer which was followed by an enlightening Reading by the Head Girl, Katya (UVI) and her Deputies, Poppy and Aurora (both UVI), linked to the Foundation of the School.

Mesmerising performances by the Chamber Choir, Junior Consort and 150th Anniversary Choir, consisting of alumnae and staff members, conducted by Miss Marie-Claire Arthur, Director of Music, featured throughout the Service filling the cathedral with their soaring voices. It was also a treat to hear the deep bass notes, as supplied by some members of the 150th Anniversary Choir. Hymns included Tell Out My Soul; Lord for the Years; Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer and Be Still My Soul. 

St Mary’s organist, Mr Dominic Joyce, played with panache throughout the Service in what was his debut performance at Salisbury Cathedral.

Mrs Vicky Wilson, CFT Trustee, Governor, Alumna and Past Parent, then took to the beautiful lectern for her Reading of 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

We were delighted to hear from four current students Felicity (LVI), Eve (LV), Elo (UV) and Delphina (MIV) who read out wonderfully evocative accounts of school memories from the St Mary’s Archives. Transcripts of their readings can be read here.

The Sermon was then delivered by the Right Revd Edward Condry, the retired Bishop of Ramsbury.

This was followed by the Chamber Choir, Junior Choir and 150th Anniversary Choir, again conducted by Miss Arthur, singing Mary’s Magnificat, featuring UVI Choral Scholar, Katie, whose pure soprano voice captivated everyone present.

Two very special members of the St Mary’s community, the Revd Rachel Benson (Woods, 1961 Leaver) and the Revd Lulu Pelly (Lloyd, 1969 Leaver) shared the final two prayers, delivered with great sincerity and personal thought.

A triumphant rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, performed by the Chamber Choir, Junior Consort and 150thAnniversary Choir, conducted by Miss Arthur, brought the Service to a truly impressive close.

Thank you to all those who contributed to the Service, particularly Revd Jonathan Beach, Miss Marie-Claire Arthur, Mr Dominic Joyce, Mrs Gill Cooper, and the Music and Development Departments.

For the full Order of Service, please click here.

Following the Service, many of our guests moved to the Cathedral’s Refectory to share memories and catch up with old friends and colleagues and an enjoy afternoon tea-style canapes and raise a glass to the 150th Anniversary of St Mary’s, kindly sponsored by The Calne Girls' Association.

The impressive setting of Salisbury Cathedral certainly encouraged reflection of the historic occasion and what the school has meant to so many, and how it will service its current and future pupils. It is very reassuring that in 2023, 150 years after the school’s inception, the St Mary’s community is still as passionate and determined in providing first-rate all-round education. As a community, St Mary’s will continue to promote excellent education for girls and aspire to the ideals of our Founders beyond the 150th year and long into the future.

Thank you to everyone who generously donated to the retiring collection, which was in aid of the Chrysalis Campaign – an ambitious and truly transformational bursary programme which embodies the school’s aim and values.

Professional photographs taken of the Service will be shared after Half Term.


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The Calne Foundation Trust

St Mary's School
63 Curzon Street
SN11 0DF
United Kingdom





Charity No. 1147327

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