History of Mary Hare

Mary Hare was born on November 3rd 1865.  She was one of a family of ten.

She was a remarkable woman, establishing a Brighton based uniformed women's police force as well as being an active suffragette.  However her foremost achievement was as the founder of an oral school for deaf children which has now become the UK's largest non-maintained special school for the deaf.  Mary Hare's ethos was that deafness was not a mental disability but rather a sensory impairment that presents the deaf child with additional barriers to learning.  At the time this was quite a unique approach.  To this day, the school continues to fulfil her vision for the auditory/oral education of deaf children.  Mary Hare died in 1945 two days after her 80th birthday.  She wrote in her will, 'my efforts on behalf of the Deaf have been my greatest joy in life.'

Miss Hare opened a school for deaf boys and girls in her mother's house in London in 1883.  She went on to establish Dene Hollow Oral School for the Deaf in 1916 taking pupils from all over the world.  In commemoration of its Founder, the school was renamed the Mary Hare Grammar School on 1 January 1946.  In 1949 Mary Hare School moved to its current home at Arlington Manor, Newbury.  The official opening of the school was held in July 1950 and was performed by HRH The Princess Margaret.  The Manor comprised classrooms, a dining hall, kitchen, servery, teachers' dining room, domestic staff dining room and the Principal's office on the ground floor.  Dormitories were housed upstairs.  A squash court in the stable block was converted to a gymnasium.  Mains electricity was installed as well as a hot water and central heating plant.

The school went through major development in the 1950's with new accommodation being built.  Work began on a new boarding house for boys in the 1960's meaning the school could increase its numbers to 150.  Mansell House was completed in 1962 and Howard House in 1968.  In the 1970's work began on a swimming pool and the construction of Blount Hall, a dining hall for staff and pupils.  A library was added in the 1980's and was opened by Nina Bawden, children's author (Carrie's War).  A science block was opened in 1988.

In 1996 Mill Hall Oral School for the Deaf (Ltd) relocated from Sussex to Greenham Lodge, Newbury which was subsequently renamed Mill Hall.

The school has continued to develop and expand and is now supported by The Mary Hare Foundation established in 1991, which raises much needed funds for future development.