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Crest and House History

With a history dating back to 1918, Chilton has many traditions. Here are the stories of some key aspects Chilton’s history.  For further details please contact our Archivist, Mrs Sue Blundell.


The name – Chilton Saint James School 

Miss Fitzgerald was a teacher at Chilton House on The Terrace before founding her own school in Lower Hutt in 1918.  This new school was originally called the Hutt Girls’ School. 

When Chilton House closed in 1933 Miss FitzGerald purchased the good will and, with the close link to the parish of St James in Lower Hutt, changed the name of her Hutt Girls' School to Chilton Saint James School.


The Chilton Saint James School crest

The crest is made up of three elements:

  • a red cross on a white field (the St George’s Cross) signifies the Church of England
  • the scallop shell worn as a badge by 12th century pilgrims in token of having visited the shrine of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela.  Saint James the Elder is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims, and the scallop shell is worn to this day by pilgrims on the Camino in Spain.
  • the Martyr’s Sword – St James was put to death by the sword.

Chilton Saint James School colours

Chilton Saint James School adopted the colours of Chilton House – red and blue – and added white, perhaps as a mark of patriotism in the immediate post-war time of 1918.


Possumus, our motto

On St James’ Day 1926, Archdeacon Johnston preached to the School from Matthew 20:22: “Are ye able to drink of the cup I shall drink of, and to be baptised with the baptism I shall be baptised with?  They said unto Him, We are able!”

After the service everyone seemed to feel the School had found a motto:  “Possumus – We are able”.

Shortly before her death in 1955, Principal and Founder Miss FitzGerald wrote:
“Any school which adopts this for its motto is undertaking more than it knows and is destined to a harder testing than it ever thought of...  Chilton Saint James has already been severely tested in its faithfulness to this declaration and will undoubtedly be tested further.  May the grit and courage of its children rise towards this unattainable standard of greatness.”


Chilton’s Houses

In the early years, Teams were established and referred to as Green, Blue and Red.  A fourth Orange Team was added in later. 

The very English Miss Hough became Principal in 1955 and changed Teams to Houses, with the names Lancaster (red), Gloucester (blue) and York (green) and Winchester (orange).

Miss Gwen Ryan the next Principal renamed the Houses to commemorate people who had worked hard to establish the School and these names have remained to this day.

Stowe – Red Team, formerly known as Leicester House

Badge – crossed swords

Miss Sylvia Stowe was affectionately known as one of the School's Godmothers.  Prior to 1918 she helped raise the money to buy the property in Waterloo Road that we now know as FitzGerald House.  A bequest after Miss Stowe's death was used to form the Stowe Library of reference books.

Hansell – Blue Team, formerly known as Gloucester House

Badge – angelic wings

Archdeacon Arthur Hansell was Vicar of Saint James Church when he was approached with tentative plans for a new school in 1917.  With his encouragement and help the new school was opened at the beginning of 1918. Archdeacon Hansell became School Chaplain, a position he held until his retirement at the end of 1932.  His two daughters, Alice and Gwen, attended the School at its beginning and Alice's daughters, Margaret and Marjory Davies were pupils at Chilton in the 1940s.  Archdeacon Hansell and his wife continued to attend functions at Chilton even when they moved to Karori.  Their influence was deep and abiding.

Benbow – Green Team, formerly known as York House

Badge – chalice

Miss Ella Benbow came to Chilton in 1926 having met Miss FitzGerald in London the year before.  A talented pianist, she is remembered for her gift of bringing out the best in her pupils and during her time the standard of music in the School reached a very high level.  As well as teaching piano, harmony and rudiments of music, she trained the choir and the School pipe orchestra.  Miss Benbow wrote the music for the School Hymn, the Dedication Hymn and chant for the Benedicite as well as music for numerous school productions.  After nearly 30 years as Music Mistress at Chilton, Miss Benbow retired in 1955 to live in Bournemouth, England where she died.

Lewis – Yellow, originally Orange Team and known as Winchester House

Badge – scallop shell

Miss Annie Lewis gace more than twenty years’ service as Matron of the boarding house.  Miss FitzGerald spoke of her work as being the finest she had seen in a Matron at Chilton or any other school.  Always a sympathetic listener, Miss Lewis was loyal and generous.  She retired in 1946 to live at York Bay.  She died in 1959.