Miss Annie Parr Headmistress 1930 - 1940

Miss Parr became Headmistress of Tamworth Church of England Girls’ School (TCEGS) in January 1930 and remained in that position until December 1940. Fortunately for the school she was able to provide the strong, wise leadership that guided the school through the difficult years of the Great Depression, years of drought and the outbreak of World War II. Miss Parr’s eleven year long tenure also brought stability to the school, as she was the school’s sixth Head Mistress in just ten years.

Prior to her appointment to TCEGS, Miss Parr was Senior Mistress at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School in Brisbane. This school was established by Anglican nuns belonging to the Society of the Sacred Advent, with whom Miss Parr had a long association. The Society strongly believed that one of the best gifts that we as a society can give young women for an empowered future that contributes to the common good, is an education. Miss Parr exemplified this belief by first gaining her Bachelor of Arts degree through the University of Queensland and then by employing staff at TCEGS, who shared this belief and the same strong Christian values.

Miss Parr was an innovator. It was she who established the House system at the school and introduced the school hymn, both designed to raise the spirit and sense of belonging among the girls. The school magazine, The Tamworthian was another initiative of Miss Parr. It too has proved an invaluable adjunct to developing and maintaining interest in the school among current and past students.  

Miss Parr introduced the system of bursaries to help capable and deserving children in the difficult times brought about by economic depression and prolonged drought. The family of the first recipient, Ella Barwick, have been strong supporters of the school, ever since. Many other deserving families have been able to experience the long term benefits of a Calrossy education, because of this initiative introduced by Miss Parr.

During her tenure enrolments increased slowly but steadily from 31 children in 1930 to 78 by 1937.  Some of this expansion can be attributed to another of Miss Parr’s innovations, that of a separate kindergarten with a specifically trained kindergarten teacher. The school could not afford to pay the teacher so Miss Parr paid the salary for seven months herself and it was another five years before the school was able to repay her for that outlay. Miss Parr also used her own money to improve the school grounds to make them more pleasant for her students, many of whom were boarders.

The eleven years of Miss Parr’s leadership were years of optimism for the school’s future particularly after 1935-36, when TCEGS came under the auspices of the Diocese of Armidale, making its financial future more secure. The school expanded by leasing the large home, ‘Prinsted’ (1934 -1937) to provide extra classrooms and facilities until the 1937 building was completed (now the Senior Studies and Careers Centre). Increased staff and student numbers also encouraged the school to buy the cottage now known as Fairbrother House in 1937.

There is scant information about Miss Parr before she came to Australia. What is known is that she had lived an interesting and successful life. She was a fluent linguist and was employed as governess to Princess Ileana, daughter of King Ferdinand 1 of Rumania and his wife, Queen Marie, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. They conversed in French as the Princess did not speak English. During World War 1 in England, Miss Parr served with distinction in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD), a voluntary unit of civilians providing nursing care for military personnel in the United Kingdom. Her work was recognised by the awarding of a medal by the King.

This information is kindly prepared by the Calrossy Anglican School Archives Department who we thank for their efforts and continued support.