About Our School
Queen Emma School was created to cover the catchment areas of three neighbouring primary schools, Queen Edith, Morley Memorial and Ridgefield, to help cope with a big rise in the local population resulting from the continued growth and expansion of the southern end of the city.
In 2010 the Governing Body of Queen Edith School put together a bid to federate with the new school. They enjoyed the support of a number of local organisations, including the Netherhall School, the Parkside Federation, Cambridge University Faculty of Education, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge Childcare, the Romsey Mill and our two local churches, St James’s and the Queen Edith Chapel. The bid was successful and the new school opened in 2011.
The school was built on the site of the former Netherhall Lower School, and the bricks of that school formed part of the foundation of the new school. The buildings were designed to be environmentally friendly, with a rainwater harvesting system, a heat pump and heat recovery units, and a drainage system which is incorporated into a wetland area.
Since it opened, Queen Emma has flourished both as a sister school for Queen Edith and as a school and community in its own right.
Who was Queen Emma?
Queen Emma School is named after Emma of Normandy, who reigned as Queen of England twice – the only woman in our history to have done so.
Emma was the daughter of Duke Richard I of Normandy; her mother, Gunnor, was Danish. We don’t know exactly when she was born, but it was probably early in the 980s; in 1002, when she would have been about 20, she was sent to England to marry King Ethelred II ("the Unredy" or "ill-advised") as part of a plan to try to establish peace between England and Normandy. It was the time when Danish (Viking) attacks on England were at their height, and Ethelred seemed powerless to stop them. The evidence suggests strongly that Emma played an active role in the government of England. She had two sons by Ethelred, Edward and Alfred, but she had to take refuge with them in her native Normandy when the Danish attacks on England become too strong to resist.
Ethelred died in 1016 and Emma took the bold decision to return to England to marry the new Danish King of England, Cnut. Emma's hope was that, eventually, her sons, whom she had left behind in Normandy, would come to the English throne. This was not straightforward, because Cnut had sons of his own, whom he wanted to succeed him. Moreover, Emma went on to have two children by Cnut: a son, Harthacnut, and a daughter, Gunhild.
After Cnut’s death, there was a fierce struggle for the throne between his various children. Emma playing a leading role in events, but it was a very dangerous time and at one point she had to flee for her life to the continent. However, in 1037 her Danish son, Harthacnut, became the undisputed King of England, and in 1043 her first son, Edward, succeeded him. His queen was Edith, after whom our sister school is named.
Queen Emma died in 1052. She was a powerful figure, intelligent, politically astute and determined to achieve her goals. We are very proud that our school is named in her honour.