Benenden has said a fond farewell to its School Hall ahead of a £19 million project to construct a new School Hall and Music School.
On Thursday 14 February, the day before the start of the Half Term, we held a special service to mark the final time pupils and staff will use the Hall, which has served Benenden since 1938.
Benenden has outgrown the Hall, which was built for a school of 200 pupils. Benenden now numbers 550 girls, with 300 staff. It will be replaced by a spectacular new School Hall and state-of-the-art Music School as part of The Heart of Benenden campaign.
These inspirational new facilities will dramatically enhance the experience of each and every Benenden girl for generations to come. They will also be of wider benefit, with the new School Hall being one of the foremost concert halls in the South East of England and available for use by the community.
Headmistress Samantha Price said: “The Hall has served our community wonderfully for 80 years, and has given alumni and current girls cherished memories of their time at Benenden.
“It was only right that we said a proper farewell to the current Hall before it makes way for the new School Hall and Music School – a truly magnificent facility which I know the girls will love.”
In a moving final service that focused on the importance of space, the School remembered the 80 years of activities, togetherness and those individual moments that the Hall has provided for generations of Benenden girls.
Following a final rendition of the School Hymn, all the pupils and staff processed outside to hear the Rev Craig Huxley, the School Chaplain, bid a final farewell to the building, before two prefects closed the Hall doors for the last time.
After the service, many of the girls took the chance to touch the brickwork as a poignant farewell! The building has now been formally closed to allow for preparatory work ahead of demolition, with a view to beginning construction work on the new School Hall and Music School in the coming months. The new facilities are due to be in operation in early 2021. In the meantime the School will continue to operate as usual, with events that would normally be held in the Hall being moved to alternative venues on the Benenden campus or other local venues, while extra rooms have been created in the interim for Music teaching.