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Gryphon Gallery: The Tayler Sisters

The first known boarder at GNS (Norfolk House School) was Trudi Green back in c.1923/1924 whose mother would periodically go on concert tours in Europe and leave her daughter in the hands of Miss Atkins. This would have been at the 1850 Granite Street premises where Miss Atkins and Mrs. Cheetham lived upstairs and taught in rooms below. As enrollment grew, it became necessary to rent further accommodation for both classroom and boarding space at 1052 Amphion Street, just across the road from Granite. A few local young girls were accommodated here during the mid-1920s, but the first recorded international students to arrive as boarders were three Tayler sisters for the 1926/1927 school year. 

They had travelled from Shanghai, China. Firstly, at that time it was thought that ex-pat children brought up in Asia were not completely educated until they went abroad to finish their schooling. But it was also during a time of considerable social and political unrest in China involving the troubles between Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang Nationalist Party and the Communist Party that would later be led by Mao Zedong. 

Although their parents initially thought of England, which was a five-week journey through the Suez, Shanghai neighbours who had moved to Victoria with their daughters, Ena and Doris Marshall and registered at NHS the year before, suggested that the 16-day trip via California was a better option. It was decided and arrangements were made. 

Rosemary, Anita, and Helen travelled with their parents and nanny. By this time, NHS had rented a house on St. James’ Street for boarding and I believe this is where the Tayler’s would have stayed. 

Anita wrote: “…we had to spend the holidays boarding unless invited to stay with friends. We spent one Christmas with the Marshalls and went to summer camp on Thetis Island each year. Our mother came over from Shanghai only once in the five years I was at Norfolk, and that was to take Rosemary back and leave our youngest sister, Maisie, to join us at school. When Helen and I matriculated, the three of us returned to Shanghai.”

The house on St. James St. was used through 1931, changed its address to St. David’s Street and then was rented by Ian Simpson to start Glenlyon in 1932.