The school was founded in 1931 on the shores of the Tiernsee in the Austrian Tirol by Madge Bettany (now Lady Russell). Lady Russell began her school with just one other mistress and nine pupils - two English, one French and six Austrian. Many of the schools traditions were established at this point, including the Christmas Play, the Annual Sale of Work, the tri-lingual learning policy and the close connection with the near-by Sanatorium.
Due to its unique location and ethos, the Chalet School quickly outgrew the chalet it had been housed in and by the time of Anschluss, which forced its temporary closure, the school had over two hundred pupils, five chalets and a specil branch for delicate pupils.
Almost a year after its removal from Austria, the school re-opened in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. The war and lack of foreign students greatly reduced the number of girls attending the school to fifty four during the first term in Britain. The relative peace found in Guernsey did not last and with the nearing threat of Nazi forces looming once more, the school moved to Armishire on the Welsh border. Here, the number of girls steadily increased, and the school began to recapture some of its former size.
After eight years, the school was forced to move yet again, due to a fault with the school premises. The new location was St Briavels Island, where the school remained for several years, only moving when the decision to retun to the Alps was made.
It had always been the ambition of Lady Russell to return to the Tirol. Unfortunately, circumstances did not allow this and the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland was chosen instead. The main part of the school moved to the Oberland, where a finishing school was also established, leaving a smaller proportion behind at the second branch of the school, located in Carnbach, Wales.
Though all of these changes, the spirit of the Chalet School has remained very much alive!
Headmistresses, Past & Present
Mlle Therese Elise Lepattre - Deceased
Miss Nell Wilson - Finishing Branch