The Laurel Court House Girls' School was first recorded in the house off the Cathedral’s cloister in 1862, one of the first girls' schools in the city. It's most influential head teacher was the formidable Margaret Gibson and her Dutch colleague Annette Van Deese.
Ms Gibson was originally from Ireland, and had settled in Peterborough in 1870, determined to run a school for young ladies.The school took both local and boarding students, taught art, music, literature and specialised in teaching French and German. Margaret Gibson took over the school and ran it with a strict discipline, but gained the respect and love of her students, particularly as she took a continuing interest after they graduated and offered help and support.
In 1926 Margaret Gibson became the first woman to be given the freedom of the city of Peterborough. She is remembered for teaching Edith Cavell and for being a proud Peterborough citizen until her death in 1928.