Girls’ day and boarding house (Years 9 – 12)
"She who dares wins."
House Parent Profile
Rachel Crease came to Blundell’s in 1995 when she was a resident tutor in Westlake, then a boy’s boarding house. She left the school for three years to go travelling and work at another school before returning to teach RS and PSHE and was made Head of PSHE in 2002. She is also responsible for U12 hockey, 3rd team netball and senior tennis. She was appointed Houseparent in 2010 and lives in NC with her husband and two children.
NC has a friendly, lively and exuberant atmosphere – exactly what you would expect from 60+ teenage girls living in a close community! The girls are mutually supportive, tolerant and respectful of each other. They are encouraged to set themselves high standards and to be proud of their house and its achievements. There are a number of house events during the academic year which encourages the girls to mix across the year groups and become part of the house community. NC is well known for its social events and for raising charitable funds by selling red roses for Valentine’s Day every February (for this reason the red rose is the house logo). The house charity is the Devon Air Ambulance Trust.
NC girls are confident, happy and well-rounded individuals who are prepared to have a go at a wide range of school activities. A large number of girls sing in the choir and take music lessons. Many are also involved on (and behind) the stage – drama is high on their priority list as indeed is sport! Life is never dull in NC and often full of laughs and smiles.
Facilities in NC include kitchens and common rooms for day and boarding pupils and new bathrooms; the rest of the house is being refurbished in the 2015 summer holidays.
G.H. Spring had North Close built in 1883, and became its first Housemaster. Right from the start it excelled at sport; a Club of Harriers was formed in 1885, in 1905 the house won the Fives Cup for the seventh year in succession, and in the following year they won the average bat for cricket, for the sixth consecutive year. Two of North Close’s boarders of this period achieved international fame, the le Gros Clark brothers. Frederick became a renowned authority on problems concerned with welfare and nutrition, while his brother Wilfrid was to be Professor of Anatomy at Oxford University. Spring retired in 1912 and North Close passed to E.G. Peirce, who had been Housemaster of School House. Tragically the First World War claimed the lives of 32 former North Close boarders, but one who survived was Edward Donald Bellew, who, for a selfless act of bravery, was awarded the Victoria Cross.
North Close was owned by the Housemaster until 1925, when it was bought by the Governors for £4,500. Large-scale alterations took place, the whole of the boys’ side was pulled down and entirely rebuilt and enlarged – a task completed during the summer holidays of 1928. David Rickards became Housemaster in 1939, but did not stay long as he was required for war service. He became part of the planning staff for the Normandy invasions, as well as an instructor at the Staff College at Camberley. A succession of men performed the duty of Housemaster until Rickards returned in 1946. In his youth he had been a notable long-distance runner, and so the Russell and Athletics in general were duly promoted throughout the School. Rickards left in 1953 to become the first Headmaster of the Army training centre at Welbeck College. Donald Beatty took over from Rickards at North Close.
Beatty was a history master of the long-gone ‘chalk and talk’ brigade as well as a Housemaster who, with his wife, deeply cared for the welfare of the North Close boys. The house was extensively renovated in 1959 when, as it was proudly proclaimed in the School magazine, it was given 7 new baths, 6 wash basins, oil boilers, a new garage and ‘back works’. David Park took over in 1965, a Physics master who was heavily involved in the CCF and outdoor pursuits. One of his first boys at North Close was Charles Kent, a future England rugby international who was also an accomplished organist, and a G.P. by profession. Great changes took place at the House in 1966, when the hedges surrounding the lawn were removed, and the new Big School was built ‘next door’.
David Park passed North Close over to Brian Jenkins in 1973, in whose care it rested for five years. Dr. Colin Blake then became Housemaster, and on June 10th 1980 a very serious fire virtually destroyed the house. Fortunately, no-one was injured but a lot of exam revision notes were lost! Within two years the house had risen anew, and in 1983 joyously celebrated its centenary. Blake gave way as Housemaster to Trevor Powles in 1988, to be followed in quick succession by Andrew Gordon and Clive Hamilton.
In 1993 the Governors decided that North Close would become the second girls’ house. The School Chaplain and Classics master, Rev. David Hamer and his wife Susan became the first Houseparents of the all-female North Close in the following year. When David retired in 2001, Nicky Klinkenberg became Housemistress. She had come to Blundell’s in 1998 from Millfield, where she had gained 23 caps at hockey for Wales. Ably supported by her husband Peter, who is one of the School Registrars, they maintained the house’s fine reputation.
The Klinkenbergs left North Close in 2010 and were succeeded by Rachel Crease. Rachel upholds the values of the house, chief of which is the strong belief in mutual support among all its girls. Very soon after Rachel's arrival the house underwent considerable refurbishment, including the fitting of double-glazed windows throughout.
Handing over a cheque to Rosey Oakes of the Devon Air Ambulance Trust. The £548 was raised through the sale of Valentine’s red roses and a collection taken at the NC chapel service.
LVI Beach Picnic at Saunton Sands