Introducing our Houses

Posted on 23rd May 2023

The four Norwich High School for Girls Houses are named after four inspirational female role models with strong links to Norfolk.

We have a vertical house system in the whole school, from Nursery to Upper Sixth. The four houses are organised, in the Senior School, by student House Captains and their Deputies, who are members of Year 6 and the Sixth Form. Inter-House sports, music, drama, chess competitions, challenges and festivals occur during the year.

The four Norwich High School for Girls Houses are named after four inspirational female role models with strong links to Norfolk – Cavell, Fry, Julian and Martineau.

Here, our Year 6 House Captains introduce the historical women behind each house name, as presented in a Senior School Assembly in the spring term.

Cavell – House colour yellow

Born in 1865 in Swardeston, Norfolk, Edith Cavell went on to be a British nurse and later took a position as matron in Belgium’s first training hospital for nurses. She was known as the founder of modern nursing education in Belgium.

She worked in German occupied Belgium in the First World War, helping hundreds of allied soldiers escape the Germans by smuggling them out behind enemy lines.

She was eventually caught, arrested and sentenced to death by firing squad in 1915. She became a symbol of the allied cause in defeating Germany and her body was eventually returned to England where it was buried at Norwich Cathedral.

Edith Cavell attended Norwich High School for Girls, and we have a piano once owned by her family in Stafford House, our Prep School.

Fry – House colour red

Elizabeth Gurney Fry (1780-1845) is best known for her achievements in the reform of the British prison system. For a woman to undertake this kind of work was completely new and Fry became known as `the angel of the prisons`.

Elizabeth Fry, born into the Gurney family, grew up in Norfolk with the strong Quaker values of peace and equality. At 17 years of age, she set up a Primary school in her home for local Norfolk children. She was horrified at the inhumane conditions in British prisons, particularly for women and children. Her work with prisons revolutionised the way women in particular were treated and three of her most important prison reforms were:

  • Male and female prisoners having to be accommodated separately
  • Regular visits to female prisoners and support for the women when they left prison
  • Prisoners given opportunities for paid work and education.

She was honoured by Queen Victoria and took her work and ideas onto the International stage, so spreading her reforms across Europe.

Julian – House colour blue

Julian of Norwich (1342- 1416) was a Christian mystic and writer of great influence in the Middle Ages. She had an optimistic faith; her famous saying was simply “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”.

After a series of visions during a period of illness in 1373, she wrote Revelations of Divine Love – the first work in English to be authored by a woman. She became an anchoress – a person who devoted her life to solitary prayer (anachoreo – Greek word “to withdraw”).

She lived in a room within the Church of St Julian just off King Street, Norwich, where people could visit to seek her spiritual advice.

Martineau – House colour green

Harriet Martineau was born in 1802 and raised in Norwich. An English Social theorist, she was considered to be England’s first female sociologist and had a focus on the patriarchal conditions of women’s lives in the 19th Century.

Harriet was especially concerned about the treatment of women and wrote about ‘The Political Non-existence of Women’. She claimed that women were “given indulgence rather than justice”. She argued for an improvement in women’s education, so that “marriage need not be their only object in life”.

Martineau’s greatest service to the academic discipline of sociology was instilling the idea that the study of society must extend to every facet of society, including political, religious and social institutions that were deeply ingrained and unquestioned. She argued that by doing this, one could discover how and why inequality operated, particularly the unequal positions of women in society.

Martineau was one of the first scholars of her time to include women and marginalised groups in her studies, bringing an early feminist perspective to issues such as marriage, children, the home, religious life and race relations.