HISTORIC WOMEN OF CHICHESTER ENTER OXFORD DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY

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TWO women important to the history of the University of Chichester and the progress of women in education, have been honoured with entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Sarah Frances (Fanny) Trevor (1818 to 1904) and Dr Dorothy May Meads (1891 to 1958) were both principals of Bishop Otter College (now the University of Chichester) at different times in the institution’s history, and both played vital roles in the organisation’s pioneering work in the development of women within the education profession.

Fanny Trevor was appointed ‘lady principal’ of Bishop Otter College in 1872, at a time when it re-positioned itself to focus on teacher training for female students. Under her leadership the College expanded, including the construction of a new wing incorporating a library, classrooms and dormitories. Such was principal Trevor’s commitment to the College that she personally purchased much of the furniture and tennis court.

Throughout her career in Chichester she represented the College in dealings with government, and her influence was recognised when she was invited to give evidence at the 1886 Royal Commission on the working of the Elementary Education Acts.

She retired to Richmond in 1895 and died there in 1904. On her death, the leadership of Bishop Otter College recognised her high educational standards, her ‘motherly care’ and the ‘high-water mark’ of socially-superior students during her first decade. It also acknowledged her role in the College’s ‘second place amongst the Church of England training colleges.’

Dr Dorothy Meads attained her doctorate from King’s College London in 1929 with the first major study of early modern women’s education including ‘The Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby, 1599-1605’, which is believed to be the earliest surviving diary written by an Englishwoman.

Dr Meads was appointed principal of Bishop Otter College in 1936. On arrival she quickly established new advanced courses in craft work, gardening and physical education, and oversaw the building of a new gymnasium. Further plans for expansion were halted by the outbreak of war, and in 1942 the College moved lock-stock-and-barrel to Stockwell College in Bromley while the Bishop Otter College campus was taken over by the RAF for D-Day planning.

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