They would soon be celebrating their centenary year, but the life of this Independent girls’ school was cut short at 80 years.

The Atherley School in Hill Lane, Southampton, was founded in 1926 by the Church Schools Company at the initiative of Canon Lovett, rector of St Mary's Church.

It was named after the two Atherley sisters who donated the land for the school on Hill Lane, near King Edward VI School. The school opened with 26 girls and one boy.

The school provided a high-quality education for Southampton girls and the small initial enrollment quickly grew as more families recognised the quality of education offered there.

Over the years, Atherley School quickly became a respected institution known for its academic excellence and strong sense of community.

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During World War II, the school evacuated to Winchester, where it used classrooms in Winchester College in the mornings and St Swithuns in the afternoons.

The students and teachers faced many challenges during their time in Winchester, but they adapted quickly to the new environment. Despite the disruptions caused by the war, education continued to be a priority for the school community.

The tradition of naming houses after different themes added a sense of identity and pride to the school.

Daily Echo: Atherley School mothers day card making. 1995..

Each house represented a unique aspect of history or nature, fostering a spirit of camaraderie and friendly competition among the students.

In the prestigious school, the senior students' houses were named after female figures, specifically Austen, Johnson, Nightingale, and Curie.

The junior school houses were named after trees found in the woodland - Oak, Lime, and Beech.

Daily Echo: Heritage . Atherley school , a  domestic science lesson in the 1950s..

Prior to this division in the houses in around 1989, both the junior and senior schools were grouped into six houses named after European rivers - Garonne, Danube, Ebro, Rhine, Shannon and Tiber.

The changing of house names over the years reflected the evolving ethos and values of the school, creating a dynamic and engaging environment for its students.

The relocation to the 16th-century manor house Grove Place in Nursling provided a new and improved setting for the Atherley School in 1997.

Daily Echo: Atherley School speech day. Teachers..7671 - REF @ THE SOUTHERN DAILY ECHO ARCHIVES.  Tel: +4423 8042 4479..

By taking over Northcliffe School, Atherley School expanded its facilities and resources to better cater to its students.

Additionally, the establishment of Grove Place Prep School on the same site further enriched the educational offerings in the area.

The new school was officially opened by Princess Anne when she flew in by helicopter on October 21, 1998.

Daily Echo: Princess Anne at Atherley School - Oct 21 1998 022.

Excited schoolchildren watched as the royal guest landed in the playing fields of Atherley Senior School.

The princess unveiled a plaque commemorating the opening of the new £3.3 million senior school.

After opening the Atherley, Her Royal Highness headed off to open a new reception building at Southampton Institute.

Daily Echo: Princess Anne at Atherley School - Oct 21 1998 022.

In 2006, the Atherley School moved from Grove Place to merge with Embley Park School in Romsey and form Hampshire Collegiate School.

The Hampshire Collegiate School was renamed Embley School in 2019

The site of the original Atherley School on Hill Lane is now housing and Grove Place manor house is part of Grove Place Retirement Village.

Daily Echo:  Hampshire Heritage..Pic caption B: Grade One: Grove Place is one of only seven Grade I listed buildings in Hampshire...

The school had a rich history of empowering young women and providing a top-notch education. Despite its closure, the impact of this Independent girls' school continues to inspire generations to come.