Bishop's College (Sri Lanka)

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Bishop's College in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is a girls' school founded by the Anglican Church of Ceylon in February 1875.

Bishop's College is a private fee-levying Anglican girls' school in Sri Lanka with about 2,500 students at all grades from kindergarten to Grade 14. It is located at 15 Boyd Place, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka. The current principal is Sharmila Gunatilleke.

Bishop's College started in 1857 as one of the earliest mission schools of the Church of England in Ceylon, and it was first known as Bishopsgate School. The Bishop of Colombo, the Rt. Rev. James Chapman (1845–1862), and his wife Frances were instrumental in setting up the school. Frances Chapman had set her heart on setting up a school for Christian girls with funds collected while on furlough in England. In 1857 she established a school in their own residence in Mutwal called Bishopsgate, with the 20 pupils she desired. The principal was a Mrs Long, who had served earlier at the Church Missionary School in Nallur, Jaffna. However, in May 1859, Frances Chapman returned to England due to ill health, Mrs Long died in 1861 and the school had to be temporarily closed. No reference to its reopening is available in the Diocesan Archives.

Bishop's College dates its beginning to 1875, when the school with 13 pupils was established at Fairfield House in Darley Road, under the same name - Bishopsgate School. Fairfield House is the present site of Link Holdings Ltd. Even today the word "Bishopsgate" stands engraved at the entrance to the building. The first principal to come out was Georgiana Down, who married Harry Drew, the son of Joseph Drew and music director at the nearby S. Thomas' College. Among the first girls enrolled were Minnie Von Possner, Hilda Obeysekera, Dorah Aserappah and Caroline Peiris. The first boys to enter the kindergarten were James and Donald Obeysekera and Leslie de Saram. Monthly expenses in running the school were about Rs. 300/- which included rent, salaries, and the hire of a piano. The income in fees in the first month totalled Rs. 302/50! In 1882 the school had twenty-one pupils, four of them in the school boarding. But the income was not sufficient to make ends meet. Even with the sale of the furniture, the debts could not be settled. Mrs. Drew resigned in April 1882, and with her departure the school had to be closed again. Mrs. Drew returned to England with her husband and four children.

In 1887, three sisters from St Margaret's Convent in East Grinstead, England, came to Ceylon on missionary work. Their Society of Saint Margaret was a sorority founded by John Mason Neale in 1855, which had now expanded to overseas mission. After a short location at Green Path, they established their convent in Polwatte, Kollupitiya.

One of them, Sister Joanna Mary, was asked to help in the running of the school. Principals and teachers who came to Ceylon to fulfill the goals of Christian mission often had to leave due to ill health, the rigours of the tropical climate or personal reasons. The answer seemed to be with the Sisters of St Margaret, and Sister Angela was the first sister to be principal of Bishopsgate School. The school was to be an institution to promote educational advancement, and also a finishing school for the daughters of Christian families. Subjects taught directed them to the Cambridge local examinations: French, drawing, singing, and piano playing were also on the curriculum.

This page was last edited on 16 May 2018, at 06:18 (UTC).
Reference:,_Colombo under CC BY-SA license.

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