Epworth Museum News

Year of 2019

The Performing Arts Centre

On 4th October 2019, Mr Rob Martin opened a Performing Arts Centre, featuring subtle Art Deco elements, adjacent to the enlarged and upgraded Haley Hall. This Epworth Development Fund project was the realisation of many years of planning. A festival-style opening, celebrating culture with a true South African twist, showcased drama, dance and music in the attractive, new performance spaces. The popular coffee shop, [email protected], is incorporated into the centre. TAKE A VIDEO TOUR OF THE PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE

Year of 2018

120th Birthday

Epworth’s 120th year was full of many highlights and celebrations.  The Chapel refurbishment, rededication and installation of a digital organ donated by the Epworthians dominated the celebrations. Epworth hosted a very successful Secretary’s Day High Tea. The Prep School Senior Choir participated in the World Choir Games in Tshwane, winning 2 Silver Diplomas.

Year of 2017

Epworth Development Levy Projects

Exciting growth and confidence resulted in several Epworth Development Levy Projects being realised.

  • Prep School Library complex
  • Sports Staff offices, lounge and gym
  • Building of a second Multi-Purpose Centre
  • Chapel refurbishment
  • IT Department relocated to Administration Block

Year of 2014

The Epworth Foundation

The Epworth Foundation was established to provide financial security, managed by Epworthian Mrs Ingrid Roberts.
Click Here for more information.

Year of 2008

“May Epworth girls always play the game.” C.H. Collett

Epworth‘s Outdoor Hockey facilities were upgraded in 2007 by the addition of an Artificial Hockey surface Collett Field. Mrs Doris Logan, a Collett descendent unveiled a plaque on 10 May 2008.
An exciting Epworthian vs Epworth X1 challenge resulted in an exciting match, especially when Sanani Mangisa South African Hockey Squad Goalie scored one of the three goals allowing fellow Epworthian Claire Maher to take over in the goals.

Why the name COLLETT FIELD?
CHARLES HEDLEY COLLETT an Epworth parent and council member acquired land at the lower end of Burger Street in 1928, which he developed as tennis courts and hockey fields for the “old” Epworth. These were appropriately named Collett Park.

“May Epworth girls always play the game.” C.H. Collett 1928

Year of 2005

aQuellé Epworth Mudman

This popular multi-sport, whole family event, held at Albert Falls Dam in KwaZulu-Natal, has been part of the Epworth calendar since 2005. It forms part of the aQuellé Mudman series which comprises three other similar events hosted by different schools. Mudman caters for all ages and abilities and includes the Mudskipper events (for children under 11). Since its inception, the Epworth Mudman has grown to over 1200 competitors and attracts the province’s top athletes as well as the recreational sportsman/woman. A committee, incorporating Epworth parents and staff, organise the event which has become the school’s biggest annual fundraiser. A portion of the proceeds also support a local charity.

Year of 2003

Eco School Projects

Epworth, along with schools in 40 other countries worldwide, flies the prestigious Eco School flag.

After signing up as a pilot Eco School Project school in 2003, Epworth was awarded the International flag in 2013.

A whole school environmental committee is responsible for an environmental policy or eco-code which is reviewed on a regular basis. Pupils are encouraged by integrating environmental topics into the school curriculum.

Mrs Dibben, Environmental Club Co-ordinator, writes, “Our aim is to make the pupils aware of their immediate surroundings and the broader environment and thus hopefully make them more responsible citizens of our planet.  Recycling is encouraged by the school.”

Pictured: Eco flag with pupils, Cleaning of the Dusi , Earth walker tree planting and Prep School pupils planting vegetables.


Year of 1998


The Centenary Year started with the exciting news of academic excellence, Epworth Dux 1997 Catharine Dyson achieved the highest IEB results of all local girls’ schools. At the helm of the Epworth Board was Epworthian, Mrs Jean Senogles (Coppin). To reach a 100 year Milestone is no mean feat and Epworth celebrated and shared their joy at every opportunity. Thanksgiving Services, dinners, dances, tree plantings, a successful craft market, a production of “Godspell ”, the Cycle Tour to Cape Town, and a Sports Festival which developed into an annual event for Independent schools. Many cakes were cut and hundreds of candles blown out at reunions and celebrations worldwide. Epworth received gifts from many quarters.

“Epworth does not produce clones “
Mrs Geraldine Kerton-Johnson 1998 (Principal’s report)

Year of 1993

Epworth Chapel - Stained-Glass Windows

When one enters the Epworth Chapel, you are drawn to the stained-glass windows, each with a unique story.

Read full story of our Chapel Stained-Glass Windows here.

Year of 1985

Vogue Ball: Epworth Grade 10 Tradition

In 1985, a Vogue Programme was introduced for a group of Grade 10s. This included talks on etiquette, makeup, social graces, topical issues and ballroom dancing lessons with some Maritzburg College Grade 11 boarders. This programme was extended to the whole Grade, culminating in the formal Vogue Ball. The couples then displayed their acquired dancing skills using the “dance card” system. Parents attended the Ball as well and one of the evening’s highlights was, and still is, the fathers and daughter’s waltz.  A recent addition is an Outreach component, encouraging the girls to step out of their comfort zones and get hands-on experience helping a disadvantaged community to refurbish various schools. This is done in partnership with Thandanani. The girls camp in tents at a site away from Epworth, which teaches them further skills of self-sufficiency, as they have to cook their own food and live in groups without their usual comforts. In 2004, the initiator of Vogue, former teacher Jane Coucourakis (Barker) Class of ’73, attended the 21st Vogue anniversary with her husband Terry.

Year of 1979

“Epworth saw an opportunity of contributing to the emergence of a united South Africa and rose to the occasion” V.J.B

The newly-formed Independent Epworth Board under the Chairmanship of Rev. Prof. Victor J. Bredenkamp and Vice-Chairman Dr Graeme Shuker supported by Principals Mrs Rita Lewis and Mrs Margaret Chambers, spearheaded the enrolment of 9 pupils of colour; 5 Blacks and 3 Indians into the Primary School and 1 Black pupil into Grade 8 in the High School.

“Epworth saw an opportunity of contributing to the emergence of a united South Africa and rose to the occasion” V.J.B

Year of 1976


Sports’ Coach Sally White’s name has become synonymous with squash at Epworth. It is interesting to note that it was a Biology teacher, Miss Beverley Ellis, who introduced Epworth tennis player Patsy Wood to playing squash in 1976. Patsy was selected for the Natal Schools’ side that year and the Natal A side and South African Schools’ squash team in 1977, along with Janii Schoeman in the SA Schools’ B team.

A Single squash court, sponsored by enthusiastic parents and staff, was built in 1980 and opened in 1981.

As interest in squash grew at Epworth, the facilities were increased and improved. The school now has 4 glass-backed courts and an increasing number of players coached by professionally trained staff.

The Top Schools’ Squash Competition, which started in 1984, has been won regularly by Epworth.

“I am so grateful to have had such wonderful mentors like Sally for tennis and Bev for squash whilst at school, and am indebted in so many ways to them both”
Patsy Melhuish (Wood) Class of 1977


Year of 1974

The story behind the two framed portraits of the Founding Principals in the Haley Hall

Valme Irving (Mundell) aged 91, Class of ’43, wrote to us using her iPad, from the UK. “My mother Valerie Mundell (Letcher) a Methodist minister’s daughter and an Epworth girl in her day, suggested one day l paint the co-founders of Epworth, Miss Lowe and Miss Mason. I had studied art, especially portraiture at the Technical College in Durban.
Miss Geldard, Principal in the 1970s, lent me two worn out sepia photos which I used for reference. I hope I managed to keep alive the legacy they represent for Epworth.  My fond love to all you lot over there and best wishes, Valme.” Founding Principals’ portraits donated to the school in 1974, are displayed in Haley Hall.

Year of 1969

Epworth Coat of Arms

In 1969, the Principal Miss Geldard commissioned Mr Douglas Clapham, heraldic artist and member of the Heraldry society of Southern Africa to submit a design for a Coat of Arms bearing reference to the history and purpose of Epworth. Retaining the colours of the school, the coat of arms has a Red shield bearing a Gold sea-shell charged with a Blue cross adapted from the Arms of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Our school is named after Wesley’s birthplace, the town of Epworth in Lincolnshire. The upper section of the shield is Blue and is charged with two sea-shells, symbols of religious pilgrims.  The Helmet in the style used by clubs, schools and other institutions bears the crest: a Lion’s face in Gold from the Arms of the Lowe family and a red crescent from the Arms of the Mason family, founding Epworth principals. From the wreath on the helmet is draped the mantling carrying the two main colours of the arms in true heraldic style. The school motto FIDA HUMANA FORTIS (Faith Compassion Courage) was retained from the old school badge. The full coat of arms is used on Honours blazers, the school flag and at the discretion of the Principal and Trust.

Epworth school badge

Used on all Epworth clothing and stationery
The old badge with the EHS monogram is retained in the High School Prefect badges

Year of 1959

Chapel Dedication

3 December, 3pm 1959 marked a significant Epworth milestone. President of the Conference of the Methodist Church of South Africa, The Rev. Professor L.A Hewson, Chairman of the District, Rev. Dr S.B Sudbury , Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr P.H Hind, EPGU Grand President Mrs W.Holman, Principal Miss S.C Kachelhoffer S.B.M , Vice Principal Miss K.M Neale M.A and the Epworth Chaplain Rev D.W.Timm took part in the service.  The opening of the door ceremony involved the Architect Mr J Meanwell M.I.A, presenting the key to Rev Hewson followed by “THE THREE TRADITIONAL KNOCKS” before opening the door declaring “In the Name of Christ Who said; Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out, I open this Chapel as a House of Praise and Prayer”

The Chapel situated at the heart of the school had been championed by Principal Miss S.C Kachelhoffer, supported by the EPGU (Epworth Past Girls Union). The Dedication was precluded by several events, a site dedication and foundation stone laying by Miss E.S Church. Old girls were actively involved in different fundraising efforts throughout South Africa. A bumper fête involving pupils in an Interhouse competition and Old Girls at Reunion had been a huge success. Most of the Chapel furnishings and purchase of an organ were funded by the EPGU and specific family gifts. The Chapel remains central to the Epworth Ethos.

Year of 1947

School Council and Debating

Miss Lightwood introduced the school council system – sparked debate and encouraged girls to express their concerns. Strengthened the debating club.

Year of 1941

Epworth moves to Scottsville

1941 heralded progress at Epworth when the school relocated to the suburb of Scottsville, 4 kms from Pietermaritzburg city centre. Miss E. S. Church, the Principal who championed the move during extremely difficult times (war years), is seen in front of the single-storey high school building designed in 1937 by architectural firm Stott, Sullivan, Barbour and Tarboten in the fashionable Art Deco building style. The buildings at Epworth are not overtly Art Deco but certain characteristics e.g. clean linear lines, porthole windows, stepped pyramid-like levels, deck-like balconies and flag masts can be seen.
Verified legend has it that when Miss Church realised she needed her own transportation, she purchased a second-hand 1935 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Sport Coupé or as Mrs Carmen Mans (1941 Head Girl) referred to it, a “roadster”. Miss Church was taught to drive by a parent at the school, Mr Holman.

Year of 1936

School Hymn

O Joyful Light

A school hymn was first mentioned in the Epworth School Magazine of 1936 in a report of a Music festival broadcasted from Durban. Misses Shippey and Wilson were on the Music Staff. The following year, 1937, the Epworth Hymn was sung at the Memorial service for Miss Emily Lowe, a Founding Principal, to the tune of “Londonderry Air”.

An interesting observation is that Epworth and St Anne’s Diocesan College situated in Hilton share the same hymn. Legend has it that perhaps the two schools shared a music teacher, resulting in the same school hymn?

Year of 1927


As the sport became more popular, the single court proved inadequate. 8 ½ acres at the river end of Burger street was acquired and 2 hockey fields and 4 tennis courts were laid out and developed by Mr C.H. Collett. In 1927, the tennis players were allowed to discard their long white cotton stockings and play barelegged, wearing white ankle socks.

Year of 1921

Maths teacher with a difference !

In 1921 Epworth employed two young male students from NUC (Natal University College), Mr Alan Paton and Mr Gale to teach the Upper and Lower V1th forms Mathematics.

Alan Paton became well known for his literary contributions and as a political figure.

Year of 1913

Music and Choir

1913  Marked the beginning of a school choir. Music, particularly piano playing and class singing, became an important aspect of school life.  The orchestra was soon established and the boarders sang in the house choir. Eisteddfods and exams were integral to the Cultural programme. Isobel Sims, an accomplished Epworth musician, wrote and dedicated a song “Mashona Lullaby” to Miss Lowe.

Terms change to suit climate

Epworth changed the school year to start in February, moving away from the previous September start of the British system. There were four terms, as there are now; although the first term began in February and the third in August.   The school day for the kindergarten class began at 9.15 and ended at 12.30.  The junior and high school day began at 9.00.  The morning session ran until 1 o’clock and the afternoon session was from 2.30 until 3.45.

Year of 1912


A rifle range was built and interested girls received weekly tuition from Sergeant Major Bawden. A shooting club attracted many members and good shottists entered competitions. 1915 Picture of shooting team.

Year of 1909


Introduced in 1909 and quickly became very popular. Matches were played against other schools and when the House System was introduced in 1926, Interhouse competitions were enthusiastically contested.

Year of 1902


Cricket started in 1902. Recorded memories include anecdotes about playing and losing to the Merchiston Boys.

Year of 1900

1899 –1902 2nd Anglo - Boer War

As a result of the Anglo-Boer war, there was an influx of pupils from the Northern provinces.  As numbers increased, more accommodation was required.  The Wesleyan Parsonage and a large house, Westcroft, on the corner of Loop and Chapel Streets was not sufficient. In 1901, another large house at 181 Prince Alfred Street, over-looking Alexandra Park, belonging to a Mr Ernest Ireland was purchased.

A long wing containing a spacious hall on the ground floor was added, with the dormitories above.  This was called the Main Building.  Adjacent land through to Burger Street was also purchased.  The new three-storey building was opened in August 1902 even though the main staircase had not been completed.  The staircase at the front of the building, which was much smaller, was used and large items of furniture, for example, the piano, were hoisted up by ropes in the well of the unfinished stairway.

Year of 1898

1898 Epworth Founded

During 1898 The Natal Witness carried an advertisement heralding the opening of a new school in “healthy and commodious premises”. This had been requested by Rev G W Rogers and Mr Justice Mason in a letter to Miss Emily Lowe and Misses Emma and Charlotte Mason in London. The request was that Miss Lowe and Emma Mason open a school in Maritzburg, as it was then called. The request was seconded by a number of Methodists, laymen and ministers. Epworth School opened on August 3rd 1898 with an initial enrolment of 45 pupils, 26 seniors and 19 kindergarten children. Epworth is named after the birthplace of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, in Lincolnshire, England.

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