Harrogate Ladies’ College has a strong Christian foundation. We are linked to the Martyrs’ Memorial Trust, an evangelical organisation which works to retain and develop the distinctively Christian character of this and other schools. We are part of the Allied Schools Group, an alliance of schools which have a common tradition of allegiance to the evangelical Christian tradition.
This foundation affects our ethos in many ways, and underpins our values as a community. Our Christian foundation is something of which we feel proud; it gives us a sense of commitment to values which do not change with our shifting culture, and a strong sense of identity. We are committed to being inclusive of people of other faiths and of no faith.
The Chapel itself was built in 1924. When the local St Mary’s Church was found to have unstable foundations, the then Headmistress, Miss Jones, seized the opportunity and bought the Church for the modest sum of £420. It was then transferred stone by stone. We attend Chapel as a whole school on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Chapel is a very important space for us as a community, and we feel privileged to be able to meet as a whole school in such a beautiful building with its oak choir stalls, traditional stain glassed windows and contemporary banners made by our pupils.
In our Chapel meetings, we follow a series of broad themes with the aim of encouraging questioning minds, fostering an “outward looking” perspective, and giving us all a sense of our shared purposes as a school community and as part of an interdependent world. The “content” of each morning Chapel is often led by the Chaplain, the Principal or a senior member of staff. Often girls have the opportunity to lead Chapel in groups, and many Chapel services are organised by our senior prefects. We also invite a wide variety of outside speakers to visit us and speak. Chapel is often amusing, usually thought provoking, sometimes moving, and always interesting. We always sing together and we end with a simple prayer.
We celebrate all the major festivals of the Chruch year in Chapel. During the past year we have celebrated Harvest with the theme of wonder, and met as a whole School (2-18) to mark Remembrance. Pupils reflected on the Advent journey through a series of prayer stations in Chapel. At Christmas we celebrated in a candlelit, beautifully decorated Chapel, singing carols and reflecting on the Christmas story with a real baby! At Easter, pupils and staff came to explore the themes of the Easter story through an interactive prayer “journey” around Chapel. We had a palm parade around the school site with a donkey, and a joyful Easter service. We also have a rhythm of Sunday services throughout the school year.