The Princess Royal Joins 91첥 for Centenary Service at Canterbury Cathedral

21.03.2024
The Princess Royal Joins 91첥 for Centenary Service at Canterbury Cathedral

HRH The Princess Royal today joined students, staff, parents, alumnae and guests for a special service at Canterbury Cathedral to mark the Centenary of 91첥.

The Princess attended Benenden in the 1960s and holds the titles of President of the Benenden Society and Founders’ Patron.

She took part in the procession and gave a reading during the service, which was attended by more than 1,500 people.

Led by the School’s Chaplains and with the Reverend Dr Pippa Turner, an alumna of Benenden, as the guest preacher, the service celebrated Benenden’s longstanding partnership with The John Wallis Church of England Academy, with both the School’s Principal and its Head Boy taking part in proceedings.

The service also featured the premiere performances of two new compositions, both of which were commissioned to mark the Centenary: All the World with Joyful Sounds was written by the Canadian composer Sarah Quartel and Gentle Words was composed by Bob Chilcott. Both pieces are soon to be published by Oxford University Press.

The service concluded, prior to the National Anthem, with Benenden’s new School hymn, written by its former Chaplain, The Reverend Craig Huxley-Jones, set to the traditional Irish melody of Londonderry Air. The new hymn is a companion piece to the School’s traditional hymn, Lift Up Your Hearts.

Headmistress Samantha Price said afterwards: “This was the perfect formal occasion on which to celebrate the past 100 years of this wonderful school and to look forward to Benenden’s exciting second century.

“Her Royal Highness is a wonderful ambassador for Benenden and we are honoured that she has joined us for a second time during this Centenary year. She is the finest possible female role model for our students and, as you can imagine, they are always incredibly excited when she attends our events.”

The Princess also visited Benenden in September, when she gave the closing keynote speech at the School’s global conference, Inspiring Future Female Leaders, on the subject of leadership in the public eye. At that time, she also inspected the School’s Combined Cadet Force, met with prefects, formally opened a courtyard in the School’s new Hall and Music School complex and formally launched both the School’s digital archive and its Centenary book, entitled Benenden 100.

Benenden is celebrating its Centenary across the 2023-2024 academic year. The School was founded in 1923 by a trio of innovative female teachers on a mission to create future leaders in a world just beginning to accept equal rights for women. One-hundred years on, the entire School community came together to celebrate this milestone at Canterbury Cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Last month Benenden was once again named as one of the top 100 schools in the world – and one of the top 25 in the UK – by the global high-net worth lifestyle brand Spear’s.