A rich and fascinating history
Steeped in history, the Manor house at Redland Court has been an iconic landmark since 1552. Here is a brief look back at the story so far…
Rydlande, Ridlande, Redland; named because of the distinctive soil, the area we know as Redland, comes from the Latin translation Rubra Terra. Since 1552 there has been a manor house standing on these grounds. The first Manor, called Thryland, was the vision of landowner Egion Wilson. The land and house passed through families of Goldsmiths and Doctors until, through his wife’s family, became the property of John Cossins.
John Cossins, the son of a respected grocer in London married Martha Innys from Bristol in 1714. Between 1730 and 1735 the old house was demolished and John commissioned Architect John Strachan to design and build the imposing Palladian-style building we know as Redland Court. Members of both John and Martha’s families also lived with the couple.
In 1743 he commissioned on his estate the private Rococo style Chapel for his household, today known Redland Chapel. Both John and his wife Martha were buried in the church in 1759 and 1762 respectively.
On Mary’s death, and without any children to inherit, the Manor passed to Jeremy Baker, Martha’s sisters son. Over the years, as owners passed on, parcels of the Estate were sold off in lots, often due to bankruptcy.
In Redland, Reverends Urijah Thomas and T.G. Rose established a school at 27/28 Redland Grove (1880). In 1882 Elizabeth Cocks became Headmistress. In April that year Redland High Girls’ School was founded, moving to Redland Court in 1884. The 1896 School Motto ‘So Hateth She Derknesse’ refers to the enlightenment of education, the daisy logo chosen because the flower opens to the light.
Flourishing in the late 1890s the School, pupils played tennis and cricket, travelled to Paris and formed an Old Girls’ Guild. In 1903 the School Assembly Hall was added to the growing site, built by Cowlin Building Company of Bristol, William Cowlin’s daughter attended the School 1885-91.
To celebrate the Schools 21st anniversary in 1905 a carving of the School motto was donated by the Girls.
The Elizabeth Cocks Memorial Library was added to the Assembly Hall building built using monies through msubscriptions from the Redland Community.
The harsh economic climate late 1920’s saw pupil numbers decline. However the School’s Chairman, Canon Gamble, died leaving a much welcomed legacy of £20,000 which enabled plans for a science building and classrooms to be completed. The Gamble Science Building opened in 1930.
During the War pupils saw great changes with the Manor House cellars used as air-raid shelters. Headmistress Miss Berwick organised the school and taught by day. At night, as an A.R.P Warden, along with staff Fire Wardens, she helped save local houses damaged by bombing. The school gates were saved from the war effort by the School Council and remain in their original location today.
Education in England was changing and all children were required to have a Secondary Education. The new head Miss Sylvia Peters was appointed in 1945 to see these changes through. More buildings were required, a proper gym, upgrading the library and better accommodation for the Lower School. No 1 Grove Park was added in 1947, a craft room was linked to the art room.
The School celebrated its 70th birthday in 1952. Earlier in the decade “O” and “A” levels were introduced. New tennis courts were built in the grounds, and in 1955 the second storey on the Gamble Science Building was completed. Still a small School with 427 pupils, in 1959 Redland was re-admitted to the Direct Grant List.
The School finally got its gymnasium thanks to generous gifts and the efforts of the Parents Association. In 1966 10 Woodstock Road was purchased to provide a Sixth Form and Craft Centre. The Girls’ academic achievements and Schools’ reputation were high. In 1968 Miss Peters retired after 23 years.
The School celebrated its 100th Anniversary and a Centenary Appeal was launched. The purchase of 98 Redland Road, next to the junior school, released space for the now 600 secondary pupils and the creation of a Centenary library and a computer centre. Princess Michael of Kent officially opened the extension of the Junior School. It was a year of celebration.
The special facility of a Sixth form House at 7 & 9 Woodstock Road were purchased through the generosity of the Harry Crook Trust to provide a new larger Sixth Form Centre. Now 10 Woodstock Road could be developed as the School’s Art Centre and the former art studio became a modern library. Music and drama continued to flourish and A level results were excellent.
2002 saw the school celebrate 120 years. Headmistress Carol Lear resigned and Dr Ruth Weeks took her place. 6th formers achieved 100% pass rate at A2 level. In 2005 the school took over a lease on playing fields at Golden Hill. Facilities included 5 grass and one all-weather pitch. Dr Weeks left and Carol Bateson joined as Headmistress in 2006. Academic achievements continued to accrue.
Former pupil Dr Beryl Corner OBE, one of the first women to forge a career in paediatric medicine died. As a young doctor, she created a temporary ward out of an empty swimming pool caring for the overwhelming number of soldiers rescued from Dunkirk. The School celebrated 125 years but times change and new Schools combined with site restrictions demanded a new way forward.
In 2016 the School announced the merger of the Redland High with The Red Maid’s School. Red Maid’s High School was born. With continued academic excellence secured, Perdita Davidson, took on the mantle of Headmistress to oversee the merger for the School.
These beautiful buildings now enter the latest phase of their lives. Change has created the opportunity to return the Manor House and grounds back to residential homes. A transformation that has taken over three years, but is now well on its way to completion.