Skip to content

After welcoming the staff to the 2022 school year, Mr Browning issued a challenge to staff to find out what the original school emblem was fashioned after. I went to the School museum at Athelney House to find the answer.

To my delight, I found this picture of the emblem. “The St Peter’s College emblem was inspired by the emblem of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge identified by historian J.M. Tregenza as the most likely inspiration for the School crest designed by Samuel Calvert.”

“For 40 years, from 1849-1889, the Collegiate School was represented by a woman. Not a real woman, but an allegorical one, an emblem designed by artist Samuel Calvert, appearing on the School’s letterhead, School lists, the School Magazine, and stamped on textbooks and the boys’ book prizes. Calvert had taken the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge’s emblem and recast the stern male evangelist into a robed female form, evoking Sophia, the spirit of wisdom, and classical ideas of education. She holds a crucifix and points above her head to the light – a faithful guide to knowledge and Christian truth. No motto is attached to her, just the School’s name in Latin and the date, 1849, the year the proprietors’ school became the Collegiate School of St Peter.”

“St Peter’s boys’ alma mater– Latin for ‘fostering mother’ – was embodied in a female figure. The term ‘alma mater’ was originally another name for the (Catholic) church – an institution that is the ‘mother’ of all Christians. In 177th Century Europe, it became a term for a university, and then, by extension, for schools. It is curious that the patriarchal institutions – run by and for males – have been imagined as feminine, maternal beings. Men described themselves as the ‘sons’ of their school, their caring mother.”

“Even after Calvert’s emblem was no longer in use, old scholars and masters of St Peter’s College referred to the school as ‘alma mater’, as a way of drawing the abstract institution closer, and making personal connection to it.”

Melanie Wetherell Struben
Teacher – Diverse Learning Needs – Junior School

Source: Thornton, K. (2010). ‘’Her Sons’: Rhetoric and war, 1889-1919’, The messages of its walls and fields: a history of St Peter’s College, 1847 to 2009. Kent Town, S. Aust.: Wakefield Press. Pp148-149.