Mrs Alexander's School

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  • #3843 Reply
    Judy Greenway

    Can anyone tell me anything about Mrs. Alexander’s School, in Battle Hill Terrace in the latter part of the nineteenth century? I know that the two oldest daughters of John Pattison Gibson (chemist and photographer, also living in Battle Hill Terrace) were pupils there in the years 1868 – 18797. I’d be really grateful for any information or leads. (I am researching the family life of two of JPG”s other children, poets Wilfrid and Elizabeth Gibson. Wilfrid was my grandfather).

    Best wishes,

    Judy Greenway

    #24739 Reply
    John Macvean

    Hi Judy, I know this is a long shot as your message is now over 2 years old but I was really excited to read your message. I just discovered that my 2x Great Grandmother, Janet Swanston was a teacher at the Battle Hill Ladies Seminary, which I discovered was, Mrs T Alexander’s Boarding and Day School. I have been trying to pin down where it was on Battle Hill Terrace, but no luck. Just wondering if you did end up finding any other resources about the school that you might be happy to share?
    Kind Regards
    John Macvean
    New South Wales

    #24987 Reply
    Pete Lee

    We have some notes in files from the late Colin Dallison which I’m still processing. However, I’ve managed to find some snippets which I’ve pasted below. These snippets seem to cross-reference other items that are somewhere in the files that we have. I haven’t yet quite figured out how this cross-referencing works, so the snippets are just posted as-is, but I’ve included all of the relevant ones that I could find.

    Kind regards,

    Pete Lee (HLHS webmaster)

    There was a private school that included the name “Alexander.

    Alexander. [See also Edwards and Ladies’ Seminary.]
    1879: Alexander Elizabeth (Mrs.), ladies’ school, Battle hill Post Office Directory, 1879, p.624.
    1881: In Census returns.
    1884: Mrs Alexander’s ladies’ boarding school in Battle Hill was the highest user of water after large
    businesses. Hexham 1854-1939, Jennings, 2005, p.67.
    1886: Alexander Mrs. Elizabeth, ladies’ boarding school, Battle hill. Bulmer’s Directory, 1886, p.351.

    Battle Hill – see also: Alexander, Cooke, Hall, Hexham Modern, Ladies’ Seminary – (Is that another name for the School?)

    1889. Battlehurst, Hexham. Mrs and Miss Edwardes (successors to Mrs T. Alexander) ….
    pupils prepared for Cambridge, College of Preceptors and other local exams. Hex. Cour. 19.1.1889 – Advert,
    1889. Prizes and entertainment evening at “Battlehurst Collegiate School”. Hex. Cour. Advert. 21.12.1889.
    1892. Teachers at Battlehurst School, Hexham, entertained children by enacting the months of the
    year, with references to calendar events such as Easter and bonfire night. Hex. Cour. 15.12.2017, p.20 -125
    Years Ago,
    1894. British and Foreign Bible Society. Contributions for the year to March 1894. Schools.
    Miss Edwards’ £4 15s. 6d. Hexham Parish Mag. July 1894.
    1896. Edwards Fanny D. (Mrs.) & The Misses, ladies’ school, Battlehurst. 1896 O.S. map, 1988 reprint by
    Alan Godfrey.
    1899. Thorough English Education. Preparation for Cambridge and other Local Examinations.
    Private Lessons in Drawing …. &c. Class for Little Boys. Hex. Herald 20.5.1899 – Advert.
    1901. Miss Adeline Edwards, Age 34, Hallstyle Bank, Principal; Miss Julia Edwards, Age 32,
    Principal. Number of pupils 19. Census return, Hexham 1854-1939, Table 24, Jennings, 2005, p.174.
    1902. The girls of the Misses Edwards’ School came most regularly [to the Abbey Parish Mission
    services]. Hex. Par. Mag. Apr. p.26.
    1907. Preparatory School for Girls and Boys. Principal – Miss Edwards. Private Lessons in
    Drawing and Painting …. &c. Hex. Herald, 9.11.1907.

    Ladies’ Seminary, Battle Hill.
    1861. Margaret Charlton, widow, aged 60; Elizabeth Charlton, unmarried, aged 35, teacher
    (daughter of Margaret).
    1871. Elizabeth Alexander (n´e Charlton), wife of Thomas, watchmaker, teacher.
    1881. Elizabeth Alexander, schoolmistress, Principal.
    1886. see under Alexander.

    #24988 Reply
    Pete Lee

    If the School was in “Battle Hill Terrace”, the HLHS publication of “Vanishing Hexham Street and Place Names” says that this terrace was at “22 Battle Hill, top of south side”.

    No 22 is no longer there, having been replaced by a building called Gibson House. However, if you look in the HLHS’s Photo Archive at the Hexham>Streets>Battle Hill Gallery ( you can see early photos of that part of Battle Hill before the demolition and houses we think are numbered 20-24. There is an arch and alleyway between Nos 20 and 22, which could lead to “Battle Hill Terrace”, which was possible a row of buildings behind No 22. There is also a photo (CD0359) that shows the top end of Nos 22-24, with a possible alleyway running up besides No 24. Another possibility?

    There is an online old map (1896 that shows the street layout and at the top (W end) of Battle Hill you can see the alleyway abd buidings behind (i.e. to the S) of Battle Hill.

    #24989 Reply
    John Macvean

    Pete, amazing effort. This must have taken you hours of work. What a treasure trove of information you have provided. Ive checked out the map and yes you can see where the archway and entrance was. Fascinating. And to think this all stemmed from my 2x Great Grandmothers census listing for 1881 where it mentions she is a teacher at Battle Hill Ladies Seminary and that Elizabeth Alexander was the principal.

    #25042 Reply
    Judy Greenway

    Hi John and Pete, sorry not to have replied more quickly. I have just a little to add to the very helpful notes which Pete has posted.

    As mentioned in those notes, according to the 1861 census the “Ladies Seminary’” on Battle Hill was headed by the widow Margaret Charlton, and her daughter Elizabeth Charlton. Margaret Charlton later became the Mrs. Alexander who was heading the school at the time the Gibson daughters were pupils there.

    The 1861 census also lists two children who were boarders and “scholars” (presumably more children attended as day scholars) and 3 sisters in their early twenties are listed as boarders and “pupils’”- which I think must mean Pupil Teachers. One of those was Elizabeth Walton, who shortly afterwards married John Pattison Gibson; she and John subsequently sent their own daughters to the school – the reason for my original query. So the Ladies’ Seminary was a family affair in more ways than one!

    Apologies for adding a stray digit to one of the dates in my original query – it should have read 1868- 1879.

    Cheers – and Happy New Year,


    #25049 Reply
    John Macvean

    Hi Judy,
    So nice that you responded, and thanks for the information. Pete was fantastic with the amount of information he provided, and the photo galleries are fantastic. I think I worked out where the school was and if you are interested I have written up my thoughts on it in a family history blog that I write for my family. This is the link to the post below. The Battle Hill section starts at about Figure 19 in the post, just to give you a marker if you don’t want to read the first part. You even make an appearance in the post Judy.

    I have done a little reading on your Grandfather and your Great Grandparents and even tracked down a couple of your Great Grandfather’s photos online. Just incredible what you can find. What an interesting family you come from.

    Take care and all the best for 2022.

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