Sara Hankin's appointment as Housemistress of Mary Sidney Hall (MSH) was a momentous occasion in Shrewsbury's history. Not only would Sara become our first Housemistress (a post for which she was ideally suited, having already broken one glass ceiling when she was appointed Housemaster of Port Hill, which she ran for five years), but she was going to be in charge of our first girls' house, Mary Sidney Hall.
Mary Sidney Hall was named after the sister of Sir Philip Sidney - renowned poet, diplomat, courtier and soldier of the Elizabethan Age, and one of our most famous Old Salopians. Arcadia is undoubtedly Sidney's most ambitious literary work, a romance that combines pastoral elements with intertwined stories of jousts, political treachery and kidnapping. Sidney dedicated Arcadia to his sister Mary Sidney, and several versions of it were published posthumously after his death in 1586 - one of which was a reworking by Mary Sidney herself, now known as the Countess of Pembroke, in 1593.
By the time our first cohort of girls arrived into our newly co-educational Sixth Form in September 2008, Sara and Peter Hankin had made themselves at home in Mary Sidney Hall. After considerable research, Peter undertook to paint a stunning mural of Arcadia in the hall of Mary Sidney Hall, which has been much admired ever since.
Every so often, Peter has made a small change to his mural here or there - some of the sheep have shifted positions, a bit more detail has been added - and at one point for fun he recently he painted in one of the girls. This caused a flurry of requests from the other girls, and has resulted in Peter spending days poised on the floor, painstakingly painting every one of the current cohort of girls in MSH, along with all the house team.
Clicking on the photo above right will show the whole painting in more detail, as well as some close-up shots.
As Sara moves on from MSH at the end of this term, to join the school's Senior Leadership Team as Deputy Head (Academic Staff), this mural has particular significance. Peter has even painted in Sara's successor, Anna Peak, with her family, who appear to be walking slowly down from the North towards the centre of the picture.