About Our School
The Queen Edith’s area of Cambridge takes its name from Queen Edith’s Way, which was originally built in the 1930s. After the war, as part of a major development of the city, the County Council decided to found a new primary school to serve the Queen Edith’s area. The school opened in 1953.
Originally there were two Queen Edith schools, an Infants’ School and a Junior School, though for the first two years they had the same headteacher, Miss Howlett. As the area continued to expand, the schools grew rapidly: at one point two classes had to be held in the dining room, with only a curtain separating them! In 1962, a group of four children were chosen by ballot to be the first to use the schools’ new open air swimming pool.
In 1987 the Local Authority proposed merging the two schools into one Community Primary School. There were some concerns about this from parents, who feared the schools might lose something of their separate characters (and possibly a teaching post), but the merger went ahead in 1988, making Queen Edith at the time the largest primary school in the city. It proved a great success.
In 2010 Queen Edith moved for one year only to three-form entry, as part of the measures to cope with a big growth in the local population resulting from the continued growth of the southern end of the city and the major developments around Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The more permanent provision for this growth, however, was the creation of a new primary school. The Queen Edith Governing Body put in a successful bid to federate with the new school, which was named Queen Emma.
Who was Queen Edith?
The Queen Edith’s area of Cambridge was originally named after a Saxon-Danish lady known as Edith Swan-Neck, who owned much of the land on which the modern area stands. Our school, however, is named after her sister-in-law, Edith, wife of King Edward the Confessor and Queen of England.
Edith was the daughter of Earl Godwin, a great nobleman who was probably the most powerful man in England (even including the king, Edward the Confessor). As is often the case with such a distant period, we cannot be certain when she was born but it was probably around 1027.
Godwin wanted a close family connection with the throne, and in 1045, when Edith was probably about 18, he married her to King Edward.
Edith played an active role in the government of the kingdom, but when King Edward and Earl Godwin quarrelled, she was suddenly thrown into danger: in 1051 Edward drove Godwin and his sons into exile and forced Edith to take shelter in a convent. There she seems to have developed a deep interest in the founding and extension of religious houses, while waiting patiently for the crisis to pass.
The following year Earl Godwin and his sons returned to England, and Edith was allowed to return to court and resume her role as Queen.
As well as being an important figure in the running of the kingdom, Queen Edith also pursued her keen interest in founding and supporting religious houses, especially in the south and west of England.
When King Edward died in January 1066, Edith's brother Harold Godwinsson became king, but William, the Duke of Normandy, challenged Harold’s claim, saying that that Edward had promised the throne to him. In October 1066 William landed an army on the English coast, and Harold was killed in the battle that followed at Hastings.
After the Battle of Hastings, William allowed Queen Edith to keep hold of her lands and she lived quietly on her estates at Winchester. She died in 1075 and was buried next to her husband, King Edward, in Westminster Abbey, the most famous of his religious foundations.
Edith was a strong figure, who showed dedication and resilience in a time of great danger for herself and her family. Her strength of character and her fortitude make her a very suitable role-model for our pupils.