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A History of Howell's 

Thomas Howell, a wealthy merchant of Welsh descent, died childless in 1537, leaving the bulk of his estate in trust to the Drapers’ Company to provide dowries each year for deserving orphan maidens.

Wise investment resulted in such an increase in the income from the estate that in 1852 an Act was passed to use it for the establishment of two schools for “orphan maidens” in Wales at Llandaff and Denbigh. The schools were built in 1858-9 and Howell’s School, Llandaff, opened on 1st August 1860. The principal architect was Decimus Burton but the design was completed by Herbert Williams, the Drapers’ Company surveyor.

The First Girls

Under Miss Emily Baldwin, the first Headmistress, or Chief Matron (1860-72), there were initially thirty orphans and thirty fee paying boarders, but from 1863, day girls were also admitted. For its day, the facilities and opportunities were outstanding and the school soon acquired an impressive reputation. Miss Maria Kendall (1880-1920) oversaw considerable additions to the original building, including laboratories, the Great Hall complete with Shakespearian murals, a Cookery School, art room and gymnasium. 

In 1895 much control over the school passed from the Drapers’ Company to Glamorgan County Council. The era of the orphans ended but instead scholarships were awarded for deserving students of good academic ability. The Hywelian Guild for former students was established in 1906.

Parties, Prefects and Celebrations

Miss Eleanor Trotter (1920-37) initiated a major modernisation programme, including providing houses outside the main school building to accommodate the boarders. Organised clubs, prefects and a house system began. There were annual Open Days, League of Nations parties and Empire Day celebrations. The great fire of 1932 ravaged a substantial part of the school, but the reconstruction resulted in bright and airy classrooms, a splendid library and a new dining room. The swimming pool, the Hywelians’ memorial to Miss Kendall, was opened in 1937.

Post War Changes

Under Miss Margaret Lewis (1941-77), who led the school successfully through the war, the Junior School came to an end in 1952 to make accommodation available for the increased number of girls eligible for a place aged 11 under the new post-war Direct Grant regulations.  Miss Lewis began the negotiations for the school to join the Girls’ Public Day School Trust after the ending of the Direct Grant Scheme. 

The Modern World

The arrival of Miss Lewis's successor, Miss Jill Turner (1978-91), heralded another substantial period of modernisation. This included a new building with nine classrooms and more laboratories, an extended library and a new cafeteria. Hazelwood, a former boarding house, became the base for a new Junior School and Cumberland Lodge was converted into a new home for the music department. 

Moving into the New Century

Boarding came to an end in 1994 under Mrs Jane Fitz, during whose time (1991-2007) a Nursery and Sports Hall complex were opened, the Junior School greatly expanded (with an additional building) and a co-educational Sixth Form College established in 2005. Since Mrs Sally Davis became Principal in 2007, the main developments have been the celebration of the school’s 150th anniversary, the complete refurbishment of the library, the establishment of a school museum, the renovation of the old school workshop to create the hub@howells and the refurbishment of the Great Hall. In 2018, work was completed on a floodlit, all-weather sports pitch and a modern sports pavilion. After almost two years of painstaking and intricate work, in 2024 the restoration of the oldest part of the school building was completed. The beautiful building boasts a new roof, meticulously repaired stonework and replacement windows, restoring it to its original splendour.