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Royal guests: Crown stars Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Colman open South Hampstead school’s arts hall

PUBLISHED: 17:45 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:54 30 January 2020

The stars of TV series The Crown opened Waterlow Hall with South Hampstead High Schools' headteacher Mrs Vicky Bingham (far right). Picture: South Hampstead High Scool

The stars of TV series The Crown opened Waterlow Hall with South Hampstead High Schools' headteacher Mrs Vicky Bingham (far right). Picture: South Hampstead High Scool

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South Hampstead High School have opened a new state-of-the-art hall, with the help of a few special former students.

The new arts facility will host drama productions, debates, concerts and poetry recitals. Picture: South Hampstead High SchoolThe new arts facility will host drama productions, debates, concerts and poetry recitals. Picture: South Hampstead High School

Helena Bonham Carter, former South Hampstead student, and Olivia Colman, former Girls' Day School Trust pupil - both stars of TV series The Crown - cut the ribbon to officially unveil Waterlow Hall in Maresfield Gardens.

The multi-purpose arts space, which previously housed South Hampstead's Junior School, will increase the enrolment of bursary students at the girls school, and its opening was marked with a festival of concerts, talks and events to celebrate its completion.

Headteacher Mrs Vicky Bingham told the Ham & High: "All future proceeds from the rental of Waterlow Hall will go towards supporting pupils who could not otherwise afford an education at South Hampstead.

"We plan to double our bursary provision by the school's 150th anniversary in 2026 and look forward to offering many more free places to bright, local girls in the coming years."

Former bursary student Alisha O'Brien Coker. Picture: South Hampstead High SchoolFormer bursary student Alisha O'Brien Coker. Picture: South Hampstead High School

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Helena Bonham Carter, who joined South Hampstead at the age of 11, spoke of the lifelong female friendships she made at school, while Olivia Colman focused on the importance of pursuing personal passions and the value of kindess.

The opening celebrations continued with gala concerts and a talk from Professor Alice Roberts, from Channel 4's Time Team and BBC's Coast, as part of the South Hampstead Speaker Series.

Festivities will continue throughout the term with an array of music concerts, TED-style talks, an evening of poetry and prose and drama productions, including next month the first ever school staging of the witty feminist play, Emilia.

The new-look Waterlow Hall, designed by architects Broadway Malyan, is on the former site of Waterlow House in Maresfield Gardens.

The school acquired the former home of the renowned artist, Sir Ernest Waterlow, in 1921.

The oak-panelled acoustic space focuses on sustainability, with heating generated by solar panels, LED lighting and eco-friendly ventilation systems, creating a flexible venue with capacity for over 700 guests.

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