Malvern St James

Malvern St James is an independent school for girls in Great Malvern, Worcestershire, England. Founded in 1893 as Malvern Girls' College, it was renamed Malvern St James following a merger in 2006 with St James' School in West Malvern. It continues to occupy the same campus as the former college, which includes as its main building the former Imperial Hotel, taken over for use as a school by Malvern Girls' College in 1919.

Malvern St James
Malvern St James
Malvern St James
Malvern St James
Avenue Road

, ,
WR14 3BA

Coordinates52.11035°N 2.31756°W / 52.11035; -2.31756
TypeIndependent day and boarding
Established1893 as "Malvern Girls' College"
FounderMiss Greenslade and Miss Poulton (Malvern Girls College)
Department for Education URN117018 Tables
HeadmistressMrs Olivera Raraty
Age4 to 18

The school comprises three sections: a Prep Department for girls aged 4–11, a Senior School for girls aged 11–18, and a Sixth Form.

Malvern St James has received the highest rating of 'Excellent' in the independent schools Inspectorate Educational Quality Inspection, published in May 2017[1]


Two schools

Malvern Girls' College was founded in 1893 by Miss Greenslade and Miss Poulton, and was first located in College Road.

St James's School was founded in the south of England by Alice and Katrine Baird in 1896 and moved to the large mansion of Lord Howard de Walden in West Malvern in 1902.[2][3] The Abbey School was founded in Blockley, Worcestershire and moved to Malvern in 1897 and to Malvern Wells in 1908.[2] Two of the Baird sisters, Diana and Alice, ran the two houses for students: the Junior House, for the girls aged 11–14, and the Senior House for girls above 14.[3] "The Miss Bairds were remarkable: five spinster sisters all over six feet tall and all to be Head Mistresses."[3] The girls wore a simple uniform: white cotton shirts, navy blue coats and skirts.[3] "There were no 'O Levels' or 'A Levels' in those days, and exams were not taken seriously. 'Citizenship' was what the Miss Bairds were most anxious to instill; it must be admitted with considerable success--many girls were later notable for lives of public service."[3]

In 1919 they acquired the Imperial Hotel and in 1934, a major extension including an assembly hall was built. Further extensions included the Hatfield building in the 1960s, the Edinburgh Dome in 1977 and The Science Education Centre in 1998.[2]

The merger

In 1979 the two schools merged on the West Malvern campus of St James, and the resulting school was named St James's and The Abbey. In 1994 Lawnside School, which was founded around 1856,[4] merged with St James's and The Abbey School, and the school was renamed St James.[2] In 2006, Malvern Girls College merged with St James's School, and was refounded as Malvern St James (MSJ).[2]

Faulty teaching

On 16 May 2019, it had emerged that staff had been teaching the wrong book for one of their English Literature International GCSE papers, after students opened the exam and found no questions relating to the book Spies by Michael Frayn, that they had been studying for two years. One parent said “It has been a complete utter waste of time for two years”. The private school has apologised and launched an investigation into the incident, and has begged the exam board Cambridge International for 'special consideration'. The impact this will have on students is yet to be known.[5][6]


The Imperial Hotel

Following the collapse of the spa industry, many of the hotels were acquired for use as private boarding schools, and education became the basis of Malvern's economy; the Imperial Hotel was purchased by the school in 1919.[7] The area was well suited for schools due to its established attractive environment and the possibility of children being able to travel unaccompanied with their trunks by rail to their boarding schools near the stations. The former hotel is directly opposite Great Malvern railway station, with its dedicated (now derelict) tunnel to the basement of the building, which is clearly visible from both platforms of the station. The red brick and stone Imperial Hotel which had been the largest in Malvern during the town's heyday as a spa in the second half of the 19th century, is still one of the largest buildings in Malvern and was built in 1860 by the architect E. W. Elmslie.[8] He also designed the Great Malvern railway station, the Council House, and The Grove in Avenue Road in 1867, originally to be his private residence which in 1927 became part of the Lawnside School for girls. The Imperial was the first hotel to be lit by incandescent gas. It was equipped with all types of baths and brine was brought specially by rail from Droitwich. In 1934 the building was extended with the addition of the York Hall, officially opened by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.[7][9]

The Edinburgh Dome

The school campus has an interesting sports hall – The Edinburgh Dome, so named as it was unveiled by the Duke of Edinburgh. It consists of a round, green, balloon-shaped building, containing squash courts, a gym area and a large games area, all surrounded by a moat. Based on an innovative roof construction by Dante Bini, the Binishell (or Parashell), it was built in 1977 by architect Michael Godwin, and consultant engineer John Faber. It was opened in 1978. On the advice of English Heritage it has been designated a Grade II listed building.[10]


Malvern Girls' College


Phyllida Lloyd, Director of "Mamma Mia"

St James, West Malvern


  1. ISI . Retrieved 12 May 2017
  2. Malvern St James – School History. Retrieved 12 January 2010
  3. Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alice (1983). The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (Hardcover ed.). London: Harper Collins. p. 43.
  4. Mowbray, Chris. "Sun sets on school that rose out of the Empire: Chris Mowbray reports on the demise of a 140-year-old institution". The Independent (UK). Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. "Prestigious private school pupils discover during exam they have been taught wrong book". The Independent. 16 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  6. "Private school taught wrong exam book". 17 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  7. Smith, Brian S. (1964). A History of Malvern. Leicester University Press, reprinted by 1978 by Alan Sutton. p. 256. ISBN 0-904387-31-3.
  8. "Hotel "most magnificent in the kingdom"". Malvern Gazette. Archived from the original on 15 December 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  9. Phillips, Grace W. (1980). Smile, Bow, & Pass on: A Biography of an Avant-garde Headmistress, Miss Iris M. Brooks, Malvern Girls' College, 1928-1954. Saint Michael's Abbey Press. ISBN 9780950715209.
  10. Hogg, Simon, (2009) Grade II listing for Edinburgh Sport Dome, Malvern Architects Journal. Retrieved 12 January 2010
  11. "Peggy Jay". The Telegraph. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  12. Courtauld Institute of Art. Retrieved 12 January 2010

Further reading

  • Dixey, Mary; Stewart, Duseline (1996). The wonderful world of Lawnside: the history of a Malvern School c.1852–1994. Malvern: Lawnside Old Girls' Association.
  • Hurle, Pamela (1993). Malvern Girls' College – A Centenary History. Chichester: Philimore & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0-85033-853-0.
  • Blumenau, Ralph (1965). A History of Malvern College. MACMILLAN; ST.MARTIN'S P. ASIN: B0000CMFA4

See also

List of independent schools in the United Kingdom

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