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Historic school celebrates 600 years with Royal visit

Apr 19, 2016 | Local News

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO will visit The Chorister School, Durham Cathedral, in a day of celebration as it marks 600 years since its foundation.

Founded before the Reformation to educate the Choristers (at that time all boys) who sang in Durham Cathedral, the School has since expanded and now offers a unique co-educational day and boarding experience to girls and boys, aged 3 to 13.  Former pupils include The Right Honourable Tony Blair, former Prime Minister and famed actor Rowan Atkinson.

Her Royal Highness will be welcomed to the historic school, set on the famous World Heritage Site and will be taken on a tour of the school. The school’s younger pupils will perform a Maypole dance and PE demonstration, whilst the older children will give a musical performance.  Her Royal Highness will also be taken to see pupils at work in Science and Design Technology lessons and to the Art Room, where pupils are working on a specially commissioned glass art installation in the form of a tree, for which every pupil has created a glass leaf with local artist Janet Rogers.

Following her tour of the school, Her Royal Highness will open the newly designed and refurbished School Yard and Garden, which includes a specially created labyrinth. She will then unveil a plaque and cut a specially commissioned, showstopper cake, which has been designed as a school-memories timeline by Kelly-Ann Smith, a parent of one of the pupils.

The Headmistress, Yvette Day, said:  “We are delighted to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex to The Chorister School to mark the occasion of the 600th anniversary of our foundation.  This will be the highlight of our year of celebrations and it is with great excitement we will look forward to our future, and the opportunities it will afford to nurture and develop the unique experience of an exceptional education on this wonderful World Heritage Site where Durham Cathedral is our neighbour.”

The Acting Dean of Durham, Canon David Kennedy, said:  “Here at the Cathedral we are all enormously proud of the work of The Chorister School and delighted that HRH The Countess of Wessex has come to celebrate with everyone today on this special occasion, marking such an historic milestone.”

The Chorister School will be holding further celebrations throughout the year.  On 18 June at 2pm there will be a Service of Thanksgiving in Durham Cathedral, at which humanitarian and author Terry Waite will preach.  The service will include the dedication of a new silver processional cross, designed by Simon Pattinson and music commissioned by composer Philip Stopford.  This will be followed by a Celebration Ball at 7pm.