The History of Pembridge Hall
The origins of Pembridge Hall stem from a convent school called ‘Our Lady of Sion’, which was founded in 1979 in Chepstow Villas, Notting Hill.
In 1983, the school moved to 18 Pembridge Square, where the Lower School is currently based and became known for the first time as Pembridge Hall.
In 2002, the school was bought by Alpha Plus and the following year the Upper School expanded into number 10 Pembridge Square.
Memories of Our Lady of Sion and Pembridge Hall
"The most prominent memories I have of both Our Lady of Sion and Pembridge Hall involve the care and attention that each pupil received. I shall never forget the patience and kindness of all my teachers. I will always be grateful for the encouragement and self-belief that my experiences in both schools inspired in me as a pupil.
The school welcomed pupils from all backgrounds from around the world with the same level of dedication and attention. It was a very special time and a wonderful start to my education within a diverse, multi-cultural environment where strong and innovative academic guidance introduced me to the greatest potential for my academic endeavours."
Margot Krasojevic [B.sc (HONS); A.A.Dipl;M.Arch: Ph.D]
History of Pembridge Hall, as remembered by Laura Marani, former Headmistress
In the early 20th Century (possibly 1906) two Jewish brothers who had converted to Christianity bought a very large site on the corner of Chepstow Villas and Denbigh Road to build a convent for the education of young girls. This was given over to a group of nuns and a school opened called ‘Our Lady of Sion’. It was a red brick five storey building with a huge playground, a beautiful chapel, an imposing entrance hall and a massive staircase.
A statue of ‘Our Lady’ was placed on the second floor in the corner of the building.
Over the years it evolved into a school for girls from infant age to the top of secondary. Not much is known about the school before World War Two. During the war a bomb was dropped just outside the corner of the building and the statue fell into the basement but was undamaged!
Some time after the war, two new Catholic secondary schools were built half way up Ladbroke Grove: Cardinal Manning for the boys and Cardinal Manning for the girls. As there were not as many girls it was thought wise to amalgamate the girls from the convent with the girls’ school, becoming ‘Sion Manning’. Both girls’ and boys’ schools are still functioning today.
As all the senior girls had moved over, this left the convent half empty, so the top two floors were turned into hostel accommodation for young ladies. This continued for many years, right until the convent was sold. The number of nuns was dwindling as very few young ones were coming forward. For many years the nuns had been supplemented by lay teachers, and staff also had to be found for the Catholic Girls boarding school ‘Our Lady of Sion’ in Worthing, Essex. Eventually a decision was reached and the nuns accepted an offer from a construction company who wanted to turn the building into luxury flats. The building was sold for £3 million in 1979 and the building is now known as Thornbury Court. One of the first people to buy a flat there was the great cellist Jacqueline Du Pre.
Davis, Laing and Dick, who had various tutorial schools in London, Cambridge, Manchester and Birmingham as well as Faulkner House Pre-Prep School for boys in Pembridge Villas and Wetherby Pre-Prep for boys at 11 Pembridge Square, bought the ‘goodwill’ and moved to 18 Pembridge Square. Davis, Laing and Dick had wanted to call the school ‘Sion Hall’, but the nuns did not want the name used so it became ‘Pembridge Hall’. All the teachers, except one (who got married in the summer holidays) moved to Pembridge Square.
The first Headmistress was Mrs. Hilda Thomas and Pembridge Hall occupied only the ground and first floors. The basement housed Dr. Rolfe’s Montessori nursery.
When Mrs. Thomas retired Mrs Elizabeth Collison took over. Mrs Marani, who joined the school when it moved, was appointed Deputy Head and together they eventually managed to take over all the building and take the numbers to capacity, 270.