Help uncover the history and stories of Babington House School
Babington House School, Chislehurst, founded in 1887
Babington House School is experiencing exciting new times. Not only has the school secured a new sports ground (formerly Granby Sports Club) on Elmstead Lane, but a mixed sixth form was opened in 2015, and boys will be gradually admitted to the Preparatory School up to year six. The secondary school continues to grow and provide education for girls from years 7 to 11.
As we move into the future, it is important to remind ourselves of where we come from, and whose shoulders we are standing on. Institutions, just like nations, have history. And just like nations this history is made up of the stories of countless individuals. Babington House School is in the process of uncovering those stories.
The Rossel Family
So far, fascinating pieces of information have been uncovered. It appears that the foundation of the school can be traced directly to a death in central London. On 10th April 1885 Henry Rossel died in St Peter’s Hospital in Covent Garden, leaving his widow Elizabeth Rossel and their children. By 1887 Babington House School had been founded in the family home in Eltham. It is this school that was begun by Elizabeth Rossel that now stands in Chislehurst. The founder has been known in school myth simply as ‘Madam Rossel’, we know something of her family life, and that she was originally from Belgium. Unfortunately we do not have a photograph of her.
There was a brief period of management under a Mrs Kingsford and her daughter, before the school was taken over by one of the most colourful and well known headmistresses. In 1891 Catherine Hartley bought the school. She ran the school for ten years, until 1901, and mentioned this with pride in her Who’s Who entry. The daughter of missionaries to Madagascar, her life pushed many established boundaries for the time, marrying and divorcing, writing extensively both about her travels abroad and the nature of being a woman and female sexuality. Before she died she had converted to Judaism in order to marry again. Unfortunately, very little is known about her time at Babington House.
Get in touch
You may be wondering how a school that was founded in Eltham, ended up in Chislehurst. In 1959, the lease where the house stood (Crown Land) was up, and the school had to move. Elmstead Grange was bought in Chislehurst, and became the new home of Babington House School. As we continue on our journey forward, we are asking for help in understanding our past, and would like to ask if anyone has any information or artefacts (such as photographs) that they can pass on to the school. For further information, please contact Helen Balfour, Head of Marketing at Babington House, 020 8467 5537 ext 291 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Neil Jopson, Year 1 Teacher at Babington House School