chapter  11
ELIZABETH HUGHES AND THE CATHOLIC STUDENTS
Pages 12

In the nineteenth century ‘religious mixing’ was considered a dangerous thing.1 Many schools were started for one particular group: Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Unitarians, for example. Elizabeth Hughes was, as we have seen, religious by instinct, and Nonconformist by upbringing and temperament. Although she had taught at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, which, under Miss Beale, was distinctively Anglican, she herself was ecumenical by instinct. She established CTC on determinedly nonsectarian grounds. Newnham, her alma mater, was the only college without a chapel, for similarly anti-sectarian reasons.2 Her thinking on this matter is made clear in her evidence to the Bryce Commission:

[At CTC] we give no religious instruction at all. We have prayers, as unsectarian as I can make them, and attendance at those prayers is of course optional. Practically Catholics, if we have any, generally stay out, and once a Jewess preferred to stay out. We have all possible creeds, and I cannot allow them to give religious instruction in the schools. Many of the schools where we teach are Church of England schools, and they would object, reasonably I think, to those students who are not members of the Church of England giving religious instruction in the schools; and as our college is unsectarian I insist that no distinction shall be made between those who are members of the Church of England and those who are not. I have been asked in two instances whether we would take religious instruction. I pointed out the difficulty, and the headmistress said she would be willing to allow any students I appointed to give the religious instruction, but I said that it might place us in a good many difficulties, and declined.3