Currently the deputy head of Lady Eleanor Holles, an independent girls’ school in Hamp-ton, Middlesex, Mr Nicholson will be the first man to take charge of King’s High in its 135-year history.

Though his appointment might be seen in some quarters as revolutionary, Mr Nicholson told the governors his theme was very much “evolution not revolution”.

The school’s chairman of governors, Jane Marshall, said: “Mr Nicholson’s passion for girls’ education, his educational philosophy and his deeply held belief that the key to a fulfilling life is unlocking the potential in each individual student, are themes to which we can all relate.

“His goal will be to enhance an already excellent school. He simply wants King’s High to be the best King’s High that it can be.”

The new head has an MA in music from Pembroke College, Oxford, where he was an organ scholar.

An independent school, which includes a sixth form, King’s High was inundated with applications.

Mrs Marshall said: “In the end, Mr Nicholson made, what we thought was going to be a very difficult task, easy.

He was the unanimous choice of the selection panel.” Mrs Surber, 60, is the school’s tenth head mistress, and has been in charge since 2001.

“The governors were very fortunate that Mrs Surber gave us four terms’ notice of her intention to retire,” said Ms Marshall.

“Ample time for us to consider the qualities we are looking for in the new head and to plan a thorough recruitment process.

“I know that she and Mr Nicholson will work well together over the coming year to effect a seamless transfer.”

Opened on 29th April 1879 under the headship of 22-year-old Janet Fisher and her staff of three, King’s High initially taught 22 girls.

Now there are 610 pupils at the school, and in September there will be a bumper intake of 115 Year 7s.