St Mary's College during the South African War
Like the uitlander population in general, Miss Holmes-Orr feels threatened by the armed Boers milling around. The authorities have already expelled a number of prominent uitlanders and Miss Holmes-Orr decides to put the school’s title deeds into safe-keeping, send her boarders off to safety in the Cape Colony (Port Alfred) and close the College.
When Miss Holmes-Orr feels it is safe to reopen the College, the South Africa War is still being fought in other theatres.
Stephanie and Sasha de la Rey, who attend St Mary’s in the recent past, (Stephanie is head girl in 2013 and Sasha, deputy head girl in 2016), are descendants of one of the bravest and most chivalrous of the Boer generals, Koos de la Rey. De la Rey is responsible for important innovations against the British: trench warfare and guerrilla tactics.
In response to the guerrilla tactics, Kitchener intensifies the policy of burning Boer farmsteads, and the concentration or refugee camps for Boer women and children grow increasingly crowded.
The grand daughters of another Boer War general attend St Mary’s in the 1950s and 1960s. General Jan Smuts is a future prime minister and without question one of the greatest intellects of the 20th century.