As the first intake of girls to spend their teenage years at Ampleforth College complete their final term, their portraits will remind future generations of their pioneering role in ending almost 200 years of male dominance.

To mark the impending departure of the first girls to enter the new St Margaret’s House in September 2004, individual pencil portraits have been commissioned from York artist Mark Braithwaite.

The 14 portraits, completed over a six-week period, will adorn the walls of the entrance foyer of the house.

St Margaret’s housemistress, Mrs Gaelle McGovern, says: “These pictures will serve to remind all girls, now and in future, of those who paved the way and helped bring about much of the change that has been required to make Ampleforth a successful, fully co-educational Catholic Benedictine school.”

Mark, who runs the Braithwaite Gallery, in Low Petergate, York, was particularly attracted to the challenge presented by the Ampleforth project.

“Although I’m regularly commissioned for portraits, to work on so many at once for display as a group, was an interesting task. This commemorative work will become part of Ampleforth College history,” he says.

“I am extremely pleased with the results and the reactions of the girls to their portraits. It was an honour to be asked to work for such a prestigious school.”

Named after the York saint Margaret Clitheroe, St Margaret’s is the youngest of the houses at Ampleforth and now has 72 girls, 54 of them full-time boarders.