Marianne Browne House

Marianne Browne House was named after Miss Marianne Browne, Lady Warden of St Anne’s from 1890 – 1903 when the school was still located in Loop Street, Pietermaritzburg. Miss Marianne Browne was a good friend of the previous Lady Warden, Miss Usherwood, and was the sister of the Bishop of Bristol. Miss Browne suffered from poor health and was frequently confined to her room with severe headaches, yet she was greatly respected. She was also very gentle and loving towards the girls, despite commanding authority.

When St Anne’s decided to move from Loop Street to Hilton Avenue, Miss Browne helped choose the site and saw to the drawing up of the new plans for the College. She also felt that, because of the strong religious foundation of the school, the school should have a chapel. Miss Browne therefore started a fund for the chapel before she left St Anne’s.

In 1926, St Anne’s decided to introduce the House system, and the school was divided up into three, according to dormitories in the main building – Macrorie, Usherwood, and Frances Baines.

In 1938, a new dormitory block was built adjoining the main building, made possible by the donation of £3,000 from Mr Charles James and Miss Effie Mackenzie. This provided a new home for a brand new house – Marianne Browne – which was officially opened by Mrs James at prize-giving in May 1939. The house was made up of girls drafted from the three original houses.

The first Housemistresses were Miss Woods and Miss McLean and the first Head of House was Jean Bradley.

The basement of Marianne Browne House first provided change rooms for the whole school. In 1947, it was converted into the Domestic Science classroom. Three stoves were given to the school, and sewing machines were bought with a generous donation by Mrs James. In 1960, the new Frances Baines House was opened, which meant that the Domestic Science class could move out of Marianne Browne, and the basement became a common room for the house.

In 1965, Marianne Browne suffered the breakdown of their boiler and had to contend with ‘billows of smoke’. An oil heater was promptly installed, although use had to be made of the other houses’ baths for a week.

During 1964 and 1965, the girls of St Anne’s took part in various fundraising activities to bring an American field scholar to the school. Marianne Browne, with Mrs Butler’s help, raffled a beautiful cake presented by Mrs Lawson. It was won by Wendy Drummond, an Andrews’ girl, much to her form’s (grade’s) delight.

2004 saw a major upgrade of the dormitories. All Grade 12’s are now housed in single rooms with study facilities, Grade 11’s in double rooms with study facilities, and Grade 10’s have a study area within the house.

The Other Houses