Message by the Principal

Mrs. Chemali Goonetileke Herath

Mrs. Chemali Goonetileke Herath

Towards 150’…. seems such a surreal phrase to me as I write this message for the soft launch of the official webpage to commence activities toward the sesquicentennial anniversary of Bishop’s College in 2025. I feel so truly honoured to serve my alma mater as Principal during a milestone era of this most prestigious Private Anglican Girls’ School.

Although recorded history attributes Bishop’s College to its beginnings in 1875, it was originally founded by Bishop James Chapman and his wife Frances in 1857 in Mutwal as Bishopsgate School. We are indebted to them for their trailblazing, visionary foresight and determination in establishing women’s education in Ceylon. After a few closures and re-locations, Bishop’s College as it was later called, began to grow and flourish as one of the most reputed girl’s schools in the country. The Sisters of St Margaret too, provided a long line of Principals, contributing to the continuation of the school. 

Charity and community service together with the ideals of truth, loyalty and responsibility were handed down by the missionaries and continue to be upheld by the motto; “Non Sibi Sed Omnibus”- Not for Self but for All. Bishop’s College, towards Independence and thereafter embraced the liberal and progressive thought that dominated the day and sported a modern identity towards nurturing a ‘new woman’ whilst skilfully blending it with the rich Christian traditions of the school. The aptly chosen colours of royal purple and majestic gold encourage us to maintain the high standards ingrained more than a century ago.

Message by the Chairperson

Mrs Shermila Perera

The launch of the webpage to commemorate 150 years of Bishop’s College (1875-2025) begins an extraordinary journey. A journey to reflect on and celebrate the genesis of women’s education; based on the tenets of ‘charity, community spirit, and public service’ upheld by the motto of our school ‘Non Sibi Sed Omnibus’ –Not for Self, but for All!

Since its inception, Bishop’s College has continued to evolve to provide a holistic education for women, whilst staying true to its founding values. Therefore, it is only apt that the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary in 2025, beginning with the Founders’ Day commemoration in 2023 embrace the ethos of the school towards the upliftment of charity, scholarship, and unbounded spirit.


Our History

Bishop James Chapman

Bishop James Chapman


The recognition of education as the main vehicle for the upliftment of girls led to a series of initiatives, to establish in Ceylon a school for education for girls in English. Beginning in 1857 right through to 1875, Bishopsgate school as it was first known was carefully fostered and nurtured by a succession of Christian missionaries and their spouses, making every effort to create an environment of security at a time when education for girls was not considered a right or even a requirement.

Bishop Chapman, the Bishop of Colombo from 1845 – 1862, took great interest in expanding the scope of education in Ceylon. Along with his wife Frances Chapman, a small school was set up first in Mutwal in their own home. It is to Mrs. Chapman that Ceylon largely owes the beginnings of women’s education. Parents felt a sense of confidence to send their daughters to be educated at the school that was directly under her influence, since she and her daughters taught in the school.

In its early fledgling stage, the school faced many challenges when Mrs Chapman had to return to England due to ill health. The school had to be temporarily closed and reopened in 1875 with Mrs Drew as Principal. Bishop Copleston who came to Ceylon as the 4th Bishop of Colombo in 1876, devoted his energies to the running of the school and subsidised the school’s expenses from the Bishop’s Special Fund. Subsequently, the school shifted from Mutwal to Fairfield House on Darley Road in 1885, marking a new beginning in the history of the school.

Major Fundraising Projects

Plans are underway to broaden the learning experience of our young Bishopians and further enhance their scope in education. The project proposes to introduce and develop several ongoing initiatives for value-added learning for students and continuous professional development for academic and non-academic staff, including the introduction of academic and sports scholarship schemes on a merit and need basis, the introduction of Sign Language (Grades 1-5) and Comparative Religious Studies (Grades 6-9) into the school curriculum in 2023. Further details to follow soon.

Due to the increase in students in the A/Level section, a dire need has arisen to increase the classroom capacity to accommodate these students. This resulted in the school taking on the responsibility of constructing a new state of the art building which will accommodate amongst others; classrooms, a skills development hall, washrooms, staff rooms, a canteen, a book shop and student recreation areas. The proposed building, keeping with the environment-friendly policies of the school will incorporate solar panels and an efficient garbage disposal system. The estimated cost of the project is approximately Rs.165m, subject to price revisions. Further details to follow soon. 

The proposed multi storey sports pavilion for the main grounds and the swimming pool of Bishop’s College to accommodate parents, past pupils and well-wishers who attend the much-awaited annual sports and swimming meet. 

With constant ripples of change, the year 1895 was eventful as Bishop’s College was passed into the care of the Sisters’ of St. Margaret. In 1902, it was once again relocated. This time, to its present address. The unhindered dedication, support and blessings given by the Sisters was instrumental role in the growth and flourishing of our school - laying a lasting foundation in producing students who were both strengthened by their faith whilst also adapting to the upbringing of the modern age. The contribution of the Sisters was immeasurable, and to this day we Bishopians try our utmost to repay this invaluable debt by organizing the St. Margret’s Day Fair as a mark of our respect and gratitude for the unwavering spirit and support of the Sisters of St. Margaret. Further details to follow.

This project is dedicated to our loyal members of the academic staff, who as Sister Celestine (Principal 1945-1949) once said has served the school not only to establish a high standard of academic excellence but also to develop the spirit of the school motto. The project will be part and parcel of the hostel renovation project, which is already underway and will renovate and refurbish one dormitory to accommodate teachers who are facing many challenges during these unprecedented times at a concessionary rate. Further details to follow.

The service staff of Bishop’s College are an integral part of the efficient running of the day-to-day operations of the school, and in keeping in line with the theme of our 150th year commemorations, there will be special projects undertaken towards helping them and their families. Further details to follow.

The theme aptly depicts the school motto that has always instilled the virtue of sharing with those who are less fortunate. Bishop’s College has throughout its history reached out through numerous fundraising projects and events. The 150 years celebrations will exemplify the true tenets of charity, community spirit and public service. Further details to follow.

Leave a Memory


Shermila Antony Perera (Chairperson) | Shianthi Jayasinghe (Treasurer) | Shanika Wimalabandu (Joint Secretary) | Diloka Kamalgoda (Joint Secretary) | Savithri Wijesekera (Advisor) | Shyama Perera (Advisor) Zahara Maruzook | Sunella Dissanayeke-Mohotti | Rochelle Tissaaratchy | Minal Ranatunga | Rajitha Jayasuriya | Anusha Alles | Srinika Linden

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