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History of the School

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History of the School

  • Circa 1826

    Portland House was built on the outskirts of Leicester as a hunting lodge for the Duke of Portland. Over the years it was also used as a coach house and a vinery.


  • 1900 - 1906

    By 1900 Portland House was the residential home of William Raven, owner of W Raven and Co hosiery manufacturers.

    Elsewhere in the city, Mrs Holles formed a kindergarten class for one girl and two boys in a house on Alexandra Road. The School then moved to Stoneygate Road, then to a schoolroom of the Stoneygate Baptist Church. The ‘model school’ for boys and girls was named Merton House School.

  • 1926

    As Merton House’s pupil numbers grew, Mrs Holles started to look for more spacious accommodation.

    Portland House was purchased and converted into a school (and a home for Mr and Mrs Holles) and Mrs Holles moved her pupils to their new location. The School become known as Portland House School and was recognised as a preparatory school. The pupils dressed in distinctive yellow and grey blazers with boaters and white gloves.

  • 1935

    Mrs Holles retired from the School and Miss Mackirkdy and Miss Alcraft took over the Headship. By this point English, Maths, Latin, Nature Study, Drawing, French History and Geography had been added to the curriculum, alongside elocution and deportment lessons.

    Hockey, Netball and Tennis were all played by the School, alongside swimming lessons which took place in the city.

  • 1939

    At the outbreak of World War II parents were informed the cellars would be used in the event of a German air raid and students were provided with gas masks. Vegetables were also grown on the School grounds to contribute to the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign.

  • 1945

    Miss Mackirdy retired and Miss Alcraft continued as Headmistress until her death in 1972.

    1945 also marked the decision to pay staff on the Burham Salary Scale to attract teachers of a certain calibre.

  • 1952

    The School was inspected by the Ministry of Education and was recognised as a grammar school.

  • 1961

    Pupils at the School have always benefited from a wide range of trips, including this trip to Brussels and Bruges in 1961 and this French ski trip in 2018. 

  • 1963

    The Sixth Form was established. Our current Sixth Formers benefit from a dedicated space, which was refurbished in 2019. 

  • 1972

    Miss Alcraft passed away and her deputy, Miss Day Storey became the new Headmistress. This year also saw Chemistry, now one of the School’s most popular subjects, added to the curriculum.

  • 1974

    In 1974, the School's Parents' Association took over the School and formed the charitable trust which still runs the School today. 

    The takeover was reported in the Leicester Mercury:

    'Portland House School Parents' Association have taken over the running of the school in London Road, Leicester. 

    The purchase of the school, which has been agreed in principle, was made possible mainly by interest free loans of £300 from most of the parents. 

    The Association are forming a trust company which will seek charitable status.' 

    The Trust which runs the School today is administered by our Board of Governors. 

  • 1976-1979

    To accommodate the expanding science curriculum, a new science block was opened in 1976.

    Miss Margaret Bailey became Headmistress in 1977, the same year the ageing conservatory was removed and replaced with changing rooms and in 1978 the School was recognised as a Public Day School.

    The land and house (dating back to 1920) next to Portland House was purchased at the end of the 1970s and adapted into the Junior Department, kitchen and dining hall. This released space in the original house for the growing Senior Department. 

  • 1980-1992

    Miss Dorothy Buchan was appointed as Headmistress.

    In 1985 the Senior School changed its name from Portland House to Leicester High School for Girls, with the Junior Department following in 1991.

    In 1989 the new gymnasium was built and opened.

    Mrs Patricia Watson took over the role of Headmistress in 1992.

  • 2000

    The new library, resources and careers area was built, along with a new laboratory, updated IT facilities and new music and drama rooms.

  • 2006

    The School marked it's centenary year in 2006, with a series of events and a uniform change!

  • 2010

    The old stable block was removed and a large scale extension to the Senior School was completed which houses science laboratories, humanities teaching spaces and our art studio. 

  • 2018

    The School continues to grow and develop with a new Junior Playground opening in 2018, providing year round outdoor play. 

  • 2019

    2019 saw the launch of our latest development, our new Dave Family Music Centre. 

  • 2020 - 2021

    The School has been through many changes in our 115 years, but 2020 saw the start of unprecedented challenges for the School as we were forced by the pandemic to move to remote learning. We are proud to say we continued our tradition of excellent teaching and pastoral care in this new format. 

  • 2022

    The School continues to go from strength to strength with the launch of a new Vision and further site developments.