Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

New Chapel, Royal Masonic School for Girls, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

The first Royal Cumberland Masonic School was built in Somers Town, the part of London now squashed between Euston and St. Pancras in 1788. It was built on the inspirited of Bartholomew Ruspini and nine other masons to provide schooling for the daughters of masons who had fallen on hard times. It stood approximately where the British Library stands today.

Children allowed in could be from anywhere in the UK between six and nine, but had to be daughters of freemasons and had to “be free from infirmity or deformity” – a requirement was to already have had smallpox or cowpox. It is known, though, that one of the first intake had only one leg.

The school moved to a larger site in the mid-19th Century but by the early 20th Century the school needed to move to a larger site once again. In June 1926 a site at Rickmansworth Park was selected. To avoid the need to move again very extensive plans were set out to make a school big enough for 400 girls.

John Leopold Denman won the contract and began construction in 1928, finishing by 1933. The whole is in the early art deco style including the New Chapel (so called to disassociate it from the chapel at the old school) which is in red brick and sits at the back of the school entrance courtyard.

 The Clock Tower over the main entrance is perhaps the most gratifying part of the school buildings, although the semi-circle of lodgings to the south is particularly effective when seen from the air.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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