Violet Cherrington (1886-1956)

(From the Women's History Walking Tour Booklet)

Violet Cherrington was born in England, and taught there before coming to Canada to teach in British Columbia, and Ontario. She arrived in Newfoundland in 1922 to become Headmistress of Bishop Spencer School for Girls in St. John's.

Violet Cherrington
Violet Cherrington
Principal of Bishop Spencer School for Girls, 1922-1952.
Courtesy of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Archives, St. John's, NL.

Bishop Spencer was a private school for Church of England girls, but children of all faiths, as well as boys, were admitted. It was one of the few schools that provided scholarships for young women whose families could not afford school fees, so the pupils came from a variety of class backgrounds. Spencer Lodge was used as the residence for outport girls attending Bishop Spencer School. As Principal, Violet Cherrington resided here during the 1920s and 1930s.

Former Spencer Lodge
Former Spencer Lodge
55 Rennie's Mill Road, St. John's, NL
© Lisa LeDrew

The school curriculum, largely designed by Violet Cherrington, emphasized 'feminine' virtues and skills, good manners, and good speech. Being good wives and mothers was an important goal for female students. Studies included domestic science, elocution, art, music, drama, native studies and secretarial courses.

Letter from the Board of Directors, Church of England College
Letter from the Board of Directors, Church of England College
Written to Violet Cherrington on her retirement as Principal of Bishop Spencer School for Girls.
Courtesy of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Archives, St. John's, NL.

Violet Cherrington was a member of the Council for Higher Education in St. John's, and an avid supporter of the Girl Guides. She was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1938. She retired from Bishop Spencer in 1952, saying she was now, after so many years, "teaching the grandchildren."