Jane Frances Dove

Jane Frances Dove

A pioneer of women’s education in the early 20th century. Founded Wycombe Abbey school and did much for the citizens of High Wycombe.

Link with the Chilterns

Founded Wycombe Abbey school and did much for the citizens of High Wycombe


27th June 1847


21st June 1942


Dame Jane Frances Dove spent her early years in London where she acquired personal experience of the calamitous state of girls’ education in the 19th century. When her father, a vicar, was sent to a Lincolnshire parish she enrolled at a girls’ boarding school in Chiswick but left after one year.

She learnt that Emily Davies was setting up a “University for Women” at Girton College, Cambridge, and was one of the first students to enter the new building. She eventually graduated in Natural Sciences.

After teaching at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and spending time as Principle of St Leonard’s School in Scotland she resigned in order to form the Girl’s Educational Company whose funds she used to purchase Wycombe Abbey in High Wycombe from Lord Carrington for £20,000 in 1896.

Her aim was to establish a wholly new type of school which would produce girls with a good education plus a sense of public responsibility and public spirit. They would be equipped, like their brothers, to participate in all spheres outside the home. Though many would marry, some inevitably would not but her aim was that all women could participate in and contribute to the wider society. Wycombe Abbey is still running as a school today.

Miss Dove established The Central Aid Society in 1906 which still helps the citizens of High Wycombe today. She helped establish St John’s Church and Loakes Park School. She established the town library and set up a Children’s Health Centre.

In 1907 women were permitted to be elected town councillors and Frances Dove became a High Wycombe councillor. The following year she proposed herself as candidate for Mayor – a popular decision with the townsfolk. However, the all male council did not want to be “bossed about by a woman” and at a Special General Meeting deselected her by 2 votes. If elected she would have been England’s first lady Mayor.

In 1910 she retired from the Headship of Wycombe Abbey School.

She was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1921 and became a Dame of the British Empire in 1928.

Further Information

Wikipedia entry on Jane Frances Dove.

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