To enlarge our catchment area, and especially to attract more Sixth Formers, 34 single study bedrooms were built over the flat-topped classrooms and laboratories in Bateman Street.
By the early 2010s, we had outgrown this accommodation, and our Sixth Form boarders lived in rented property on Bateman Street (nos 23, 24, 25 and 26) and our own boarding facility for younger girls became known as Main School House.
In January 2016, we acquired 15 Brooklands Avenue, to establish our own ‘home’ by uniting our two boarding facilities onto one site in Mary Ward House. This property, originally known as Fordfield, was built in the 1860s by a prosperous hop merchant, Henry Joseph Wetenhall. Wetenhall Cottage was subsequently built in its grounds in 1930s as a home for Wetenhall's daughter in the later years of her life.
Encouraged by a comment that ‘Fordfield is a lovely place to be ill and get better in’, it was rented out as a care home. It became a well-regarded nursing home, known as Hope House and we purchased the property from the Holy Sisters of Bordeaux.
We redeveloped the property and opened it to students in our 120th year, renaming it: Mary Ward House, in honour of our Foundress. It is the perfect 'home from home' for our ‘family’ of approximately 90 international and local boarders and staff, and Wetenhall Cottage has become the home of our Headmistress.
History of Mary Ward House
Mary Ward House was built in 1880, by owner Henry Joseph Wetenhall and was originally known as Fordfield House. It was designed in the Italianate style, fashionable at the time. The bright flowers in the stained glass window on the main staircase were inspired by patterns in flowers and leaves.
Wetenhall's daughter Catherine continued to live at Fordfield House, following his death in 1882, with her four children. Just prior to the Second World War, the Holy Sisters of Bordeaux moved into Fordfield and in 1933/34 the house was converted into a nursing home.
During this period it was used for general, medical and surgical cases and included an operating theatre. Maternity cases were also occasionally treated. In 1950 a new extension was added to meet the rising demand for private healthcare and the new nursing home could house 23 patients.
In 1964/65, a convent wing was built. The Hope House nursing home was one of Cambridge's two largest nursing homes - and became known as 'The Hope'. With a surgical theatre in action until the end of the 1980s, the nursing home built a reputation for excellent care, quality spiritual and nursing care and loving attention. Afternoon tea was served in the patients' own rooms.
Most of the staff were nuns, many having previously worked in France, India or Africa and the community was led by a succession of Mothers Superior. The second Vatican council of 1963 brought changes, including the modernisation of the habit and Sisters being permitted to wear their own clothes when off-duty - during which time they were now permitted to travel and accept social invitations. Sisters also accompanied patients to Lourdes.
In 1986, The Hope became dedicated to care of the elderly and was closed for refurbishment in 1987.
Boarding at Mary Ward House