Secondary School House System

There are eight School Houses in the Secondary School. All girls belong to one of these eight Houses. The expanded House system was introduced in late 2009 extending the previous three Houses to eight Houses facilitating a stronger sense of spirit, identity and participation along with increased leadership opportunities.

Bennett (Sky Blue)

Mr Joseph Arthur Bennett taught painting, drawing and modelling when the College first opened in 1916 until his retirement in 1926. He is responsible for the design of the College Hat Badge as well as the College Medallion. Mr Bennett painted the large pastoral scene, framed in heavy gilt, which hangs in the Senior School Centre – Kate Mason Building. Mr Bennett studied in the Art Schools of London and Paris. He was very well regarded by staff and pupils alike and was known for his gentle personality and enthusiasm for his work. When he retired it was said that ‘his interest in his students and all matters pertaining to the College, endeared him to us all.’ Mr Bennett died in 1929.

Goodlet (Royal Blue)

Colonel John Hay Goodlet was a member of a sub-committee which was appointed to draw up a general plan for the College buildings. He made a special trip to Melbourne to interview Dr Marden and also to visit other girls’ schools. Colonel Goodlet was a very generous benefactor to the Church, and had been called Sydney’s great Christian philanthropist. He personally supported many charitable causes. He died in 1914, without ever seeing the College established. Goodlet Boarding House was named in his memory.

Hammond (Orange)

Dame Joan Hammond was born in New Zealand on 24 May 1912. The Hammond family moved to Sydney when she was six months old. Dame Joan attended Morven Garden Primary School and Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Pymble. As a senior student, Dame Joan was elected a Prefect, reflecting the respect and affection that she had from the staff and students. Her nickname was ‘Ham’ and she was renowned for her sense of humour. She excelled at all sports, especially golf, and learned violin and voice. She left PLC in 1928 and commenced study at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. Her first subject was violin with singing as her second subject. She attracted the support of Lady Gowrie, the wife of the then Governor of NSW, who she referred to as her ‘guardian angel’ because she assisted Dame Joan so much. With her support, Dame Joan studied in Vienna and toured widely as an opera singer, becoming particularly known for her Puccini roles. Dame Joan spent much of the WWII years in Great Britain and it was there that she became widely known and very popular. She performed for the troops and was involved in many concert, recital and opera appearances. She also featured on BBC broadcasts and achieved a gold record for her recording of ‘Oh My Beloved Father.’ She returned to Australia for concert tours and performed at the College, singing ‘Ave Maria’, which was ‘awe-inspiring’. The Ex-Students’ Magazine of 1935 said that ‘there was not a person present who did not feel that they had been privileged to take part in a service that was truly personal.’ Dame Joan also performed in the packed Assembly Hall in 1949. Dame Joan was honoured on four occasions by the Queen with a Coronation Medal and OBE in 1953, CBE in 1963, CMG in 1972 and a Dame Commander in 1974. She won the women’s state gold championship for New South Wales in 1932, 1934 and 1935. She died in 1996 in Bowral, New South Wales, aged 84.

Ingleholme (Green)

Ingleholme was the name of the house purchased in 1959 to establish a much needed Junior School. The house in Boomerang Street, Turramurra had formerly been the home of Sir Martin McIlrath. It was designed and built by noted architect Sir John Sulman in about 1896 and sat on three acres of land. On 10 February 1960 Ingleholme opened as a school with 69 girls aged from 4 to 9 years. It was planned that this number should increase to 200 and was known as Ingleholme Presbyterian Ladies’ College. The school flourished and many improvements were made over the next few years, including the purchase of surrounding blocks to increase the size of the grounds. Maintaining two Junior Schools on separate sites presented significant administrative problems. The difficult decision to close Ingleholme was made in 1976.

Lang (White)

Reverend John Dunmore Lang was born in Scotland in 1799. He arrived in Sydney in 1823 to establish Presbyterianism in the colony and thereby raise moral standards. For the next fifty years he continued his fight against immorality, established Scots Church and wrote widely. He was a powerful force in education and campaigned effectively both in Australia and Great Britain, to promote immigration and improve education. He returned to England nine times to promote his cause. John Dunmore Lang died on 8 August 1878.

Marden (Red)

Dr John Marden was born in Melbourne in 1855. He was regarded as a fine teacher, and studied widely, graduating with a Master of Arts in Mathematics and Physics. His major study was in astronomy and he was the first to graduate from The University of Melbourne in that subject. Later he studied for and achieved an LLB degree which qualified him for admission as a barrister, although he never practised law as a profession. He had a senior teaching position at the Presbyterian College for boys in Geelong and from there was appointed Principal at PLC Croydon. While in this position he gained a Doctorate of Laws from the University of Sydney. In 1916 Dr Marden was appointed Principal of Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Pymble. He shared his time between the two schools until he moved to live in Grey House. He believed that ‘the welfare of the girls came before anything else’ and in his opinion, ‘women should be given the best that education had to offer.’ Dr Marden believed in an all-round education, including academic rigour, physical education and teaching of ‘the social graces.’ His vision is best summarised in the values represented by the College Medallions, which he introduced. On 29 October 1924 Dr Marden died at the age of 69. As Margaret Coleman writes, ‘His high ideals of womanhood were ahead of his time, and he spent a lifetime developing and strengthening these ideals of dignity, grace and truth.’

Thomas (Purple)

Barbara Thomas was a student at Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Pymble from 1919 to 1924. She was Dux of the College in 1923 and 1924, College Prefect in 1924, and played in Hockey and Netball teams for both these years. She graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts in 1929 and then entered the Faculty of Medicine. In 1930, after completing two years of her Medical degree, Barbara toured overseas as a member of the first Australian women’s hockey team, attending the first International Federation of Women’s Hockey tournament in Geneva and then touring for the Empire Hockey tournament in South Africa and Rhodesia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland and France. At the end of the tour, Barbara decided not to continue her Medical course and stayed in England, where she studied massage at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, graduating in 1933 and placing seventh in the aggregate list for England and first in anatomy. Her work was so distinguished that she was asked to join the staff of the hospital in the physiotherapy department. She worked closely with the department’s Head of Staff, Sister Randell, developing special pre-natal exercises and education for women and later helped established clinics all over England, lecturing and demonstrating their work in massage. She served as a nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, during World War II. During a German bombing raid of London she was one of six nurses tragically killed whilst on duty. She was the first Australian woman to be killed in World War II, dying at the age of 32. Her incredible bravery and courage is recorded in The Canberra Times (11 September 1940).

Wylie (Yellow)

Miss Mina Wylie taught swimming at the College for 42 years – from 1928 until her retirement in 1970. Mina Wylie and Fanny Durack were the first two women to represent Australia in the Olympic Games. They competed in Stockholm with Durack winning the Gold medal and Wylie the Silver medal. At various times between 1912 and 1924, Mina Wylie held the record for every swimming stroke and was the first woman to win a Diploma from the Royal Life Saving Society in Australia. Mina Wylie is included in the Swimming Hall of Fame in Florida, USA. Mrs Judith Brigden, a former President of PLC Ex-Students’ Union wrote, ‘Miss Wylie was a fine example of young Australian womanhood at a time when young women were regarded as rather ‘extraordinary’ if they participated in anything other than genteel pursuits such as needlework.’ Mina Wylie’s name is perpetuated in the Breaststroke Championship Cup, which is presented each year at the College swimming carnival for the fastest time over 100 metres. She died in 1984 aged 93.