Bentinck Higher Secondary School For Girls

Founded on Love.

A citadel of hope, a tower of learning, an arena of discovery. Bentinck has been a gateway to a better life to many generations of deprived and underprivileged girl children in the heart of Chennai city for the past 180 years.

A star from the West travelled across the Indian Ocean to reach the southern most part of TamilNadu. Yes, it is none other than Mrs. Anna Drew, the founder of Bentinck Higher Secondary School.

She is portrayed as “the angel of perpetual youth, love, benevolence and sacrifice”. She started this institution in 1837. She was a a missionary sent by the London Missionary Society to cater to the needs of the orphans and destitutes in Vepery. In those days, when education to the women folk was neglected, she started the school with 21 orphan children in a spacious airy bungalow, giving them food and shelter and sharing the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the beginning, it was called London Mission School.

In those days, needlework and scripture were the chief subjects. It is said by one of the pupils of that time that the needlework which was beautifully done, was sold in England and helped largely to pay the expenses of the school. After the death of Mrs. Anna Drew, the school was under the care of Mrs. Bower and Mrs. Turnbull for a short period.

Then in September 1841, Mrs. William Porter took over the management so effectively that for many years it was known as Mrs. Porter’s School. In the year 1852 the school moved to its present site. In 1856, Mrs. Porter sailed for England. There is very little record of Porter’s School from 1856 to 1889. The school strength fell from 100 to 40. Kind women, especially Mrs. Koebler (1857 – 59), Mrs. Sargeant (1859 – 61) and Mrs. Corbold (1861 -75) did their best to look after the school. In 1876, the London Missionary Society sent missionaries to India, they were Miss Geller (1876 – 78), (in whose time this school became a middle school), Miss Bounsell (1879 -87) and Mrs. Joss (1887 – 89).

In the year 1889, Miss Barclay was appointed and she was in charge of this school until 1897. In 1892, Miss Barclay appointed Mr. S. Gnanamonie, who served the school faithfully for 28 years as the Headmaster. He was the one who took pains to start the Old Girls’ Association on the 31st October 1920. He was the Headmaster from 1892 – 1920.

During Miss Bounsell’s period, the Government granted the school temporary recognition as a High School and then the permanent recognition was granted in 1898. In 1899 a girl went on to college for the first time from the Bentinck School.

In 1897, Miss Williams succeeded Miss Barclay as the Principal. She was determined to improve the education of the Indian Women. One of her outstanding pupils was Mrs. Lily Pithavadian, who enjoyed studying in Old Porter’s School, as a boarder and Day scholar for three years and served as a teacher in Bentinck School for two years. The present first floor of the William Porter Block has been dedicated to the memory of her husband. Mr. Fen Thompson Pithavadian by her son Mr. Bennet Pithavadian who donated an amount of Rs. 5,00,000 in the year 1992. Miss Alice Varley was the next Principal from 1915 to 1930. Miss Hawkridge was in school from 1920 to 1926, when Miss Varley was on furlough. Miss. Rani Joseph succeeded Miss. Alice Varley.

Miss Marjorie sykes was the next Headmistress of the school from 1930 to 1939. Miss Sykes, whose roots are embedded in the soil of India, is remembered and loved as the daughter of England. Bentinck owes to her, the construction of the lovely chapel in the Indian Mandap Pattern. Bentinck High School was amalgamated with St. Christopher’s College of Education, as its practicing school in April 1935. Four well – designed cottages were built in 1937 – 38, when Miss Brockway was the Principal and a a Godmother to Bentinck.

Miss Marjorie Sykes left the school for wider horizons of service at Shanthiniketan, along with Rabindranath Tagore. During Miss Sykes’ furlough from 193 – 37, the charming and vivacious Miss Helen Scudder (later Mrs. Bonchier) was in charge of the school. Miss Mercy Cornelius (1939 – 41) took over from Miss Gwen Fraser ( 1941 – Jan 1945) who took charge of the school. Then Mrs. Rajamani Arulappan, Old Student of Bentinck and St. Christopher’s took over from Miss. Fraser in 1945. She retired in 1958.

Miss Thilakavathy Paul took charge in 1958. The western wing of the Teaching Block with three classrooms was built for the use of High School in 1961 and a separate block of 6 class rooms was also built. This was named Anna Drew Block, in affectionate memory of the young founder of the school.

Later on, the English Medium sections were started progressively from Std. VI in 1964. In 1965, the secretarial course with book keeping and type writing was introduced. On the first floor of the western wing, a chemistry lab was built in 1972.

Mrs. Florence Christian succeeded Miss T. Paul in 1973. As the school expanded in strength and became a higher secondary school during her time, its requirements too increased.

The Parent Teacher’s Association, started by Miss T. Paul in 1970, was very much interested in the welfare and progress of the school. It grew very string and supported the school in all its endeavours.

In 1978, Bentinck High School became a Higher Secondary School. In 1979, a bus was bought for the school. A block of 5 classrooms was completed in march 1981 to accommodate the Higher Secondary classes. Later on, more classrooms and an auditorium were built in the same block. This was a long felt need of the school. Mrs. Christian retired in 1983 after ten years of efficient and devoted service.

The dynamic Mrs. Prema Massilamonie took charge of the school as the Headmistress in 1983. She was the young architect who not only planned the various modern developments of the school but also showed much interest in the academic side. Twenty seven class rooms and a library in the Marjorie Sykes Block were constructed during her time. The school library was opened in the year 1987 by the Governor of Tamil Nadu. His Excellency Shri. S. L. Khurana, to mark the Triple Jubilee Celebrations.

The new William Porter Block was built in the year 1992

In the same year, the Computer Center was also opened. An open air stage was built in the year 1993. To encourage the players, a Basket Ball Court was laid in 1995.

After the retirement of Mrs. Prema Massilamonie, Mrs. Ranjini Prabakar, was in-charge of the school from June 2002 to June 2003. She was the person endowed with wide vision, clarity of thought and promptness in executing everything to its perfection.

In 2003, Miss D.D.D. Chellanatchiar was appointed as the Headmistress of this prestigious institution. She has shown keen interest in keeping up the tradition of the school and in conducting all the activities of the school. She sees to the all-round development of the students. Miss D.D.D. Chellanatchiar retired in 2013 after ten years of efficient service.

On September 1, 2013, Mrs. Marian Usha Rani who served the school for 24 years was appointed as the Headmistress of our school. By the grace and mercy of our Lord the R.O. Water Plant was installed in our school on 25.9.2014. This facility provides clean drinking water to the students. The Rotary Club took the responsibility to renovate the rest rooms at our school, which is yet another blessing. The open air stage, was demolished and built a new in the year 2015.

Mr. Drew described the school as a precious little legacy of his wife’s love, zeal and self-denial. This little school, which was grain of mustard, has grown into our present Bentinck Higher Secondary School for Girls with the strength of 2000students.

In the 175th year, the school has added a New Science Block to the many historic buildings in the campus. Brick upon brick, we have watched the new building rise. The science block, as she stands proudly is a testament of the love that the teachers and students have for the school, as it came out of generous giving and fund-raising by the staff, students, alumni and the well-wishers of the school.

Today, as we gaze at the wide, spacious, airy building which houses three science laboratories, our hearts unfold in gatitude and thanksgiving to God Almighty, for it stands to confirm the promise that it was built not by might, nor by power, but by God’s Spirit.

As we look ahead, may we rededicate ourselves to continue our endeavours to impart excellent education and moral values. With renewed commitment, let us trust in God’s providence and unfailing guiding presence to lead us to fulfil our noble vision in the field of education.

We would like to conclude with the note, “To look back on the past and say it was good is Glorious; but to look ahead to the future and say it shall be better is even more Glorious.”