“Ut seres, ita metes”
(The School Motto 1870-1899)
"Nitere ut Vincas" - Strive so that you may succeed
(The School Motto 1899-present day
The Reverend Edmund Fowle, the son of the vicar of Amesbury in Wiltshire, founded his school in 1870 in Redhill. He was curate at Amesbury between 1856 and 1862 prior to becoming vicar of Shipton Bellinger, Hampshire. Then he moved to Craven Lodge, Reigate Road, Redhill with his wife and two daughters and according to the census of 1871, his first pupil was a ten-year- old boy called Roger Dalison who lived with the family.
From the late 1850?s onwards there was tremendous development in the Redhill area and by 1871 the population of the borough had increased to 16,000. There were already a number of schools in the area but in the summer holidays of 1871 the School moved to Raglan Road, Reigate where it remained until 1876. The school was known as Amesbury House.
During these early years the school took both day pupils and boarders and numbers varied. In 1876 with 26 pupils, the house in Raglan Road proved too small and a move had to be made. Fowle found a seven-acre site in Bickley, Kent, called Starve Acre Field.
By all accounts it was a fairly bleak site consisting of two gravel pits and a footpath, but Fowle soon built his new School with accommodation for thirty boys.
Boys were admitted between the ages of 8-11 and no boy could remain in the school after 15. They were prepared for public school with the usual English subjects, arithmetic, Latin, Greek, French and Music; Drawing, German, Drilling and Gymnastics were taught as extras.
In 1887, Amesbury House was sold to Mr E.H.Moore who ran it in partnership with Mr E.A.Thompson until 1889 when the latter emigrated to South Africa.
During Moore’s time at the School, numbers steadily increased. He encouraged the boys not only in their academic work but also in music and drama. He was a self- taught pianist and also played the organ and he and the staff and boys frequently held musical evenings.
In 1899, Moore decided to introduce a School Magazine and it was in the first issue of this magazine that the present School Motto appeared “Nitere ut Vincas”.
By the turn of the C20th, the School was outgrowing its site. Due to increasing numbers over the previous years, the buildings had been extended as far as possible and attempts were made to find more suitable premises. According to the Magazine a gentleman once described the School estate as “a charming place with a bad end?. The “bad end? was to be found in Tylney and Holmesdale Roads, where gasworks, brickfields and dense growth of small cottages spoil the otherwise perfect setting surrounding the school.
Moore contemplated moving the school to the coast, but was reluctant to do so because the School had become so much a part of the local community. Then, Bickley Hall became tenantless and with the help of friends and well-wishers and some alterations to the building, Amesbury House moved at the end of 1902 and with the move changed its name to Amesbury School. In fact there is still an Amesbury Road in Bickley today, very close to where the school must have been.
A popular and well-respected Headmaster, Mr Moore died tragically in August 1903. The Old Amesburians Club, which Moore founded in the early years of his headship, also decided in 1905 that a prize should be given to “the Best Fellow in the School? – this was to be known as the Moore Prize, which is still awarded today to the Head Boy and the Head Girl.
After her husband’s death, Mrs Moore continued to run the school until Mr E Cotgreave Brown joined as the new Headmaster in 1904 and the following year Mr Brown and Mrs Moore became joint proprietors of the School. Mr Brown married in 1913 and Mrs Moore decided that the time had come to leave Amesbury.
The Move to Hindhead
The Headmaster of the day Mr Cotgreave Brown announced in October 1917 that the school would move from Bickley to its current location in Hindhead at the end of that term. There were two main reasons for the move: Firstly, to get away from the anti-aircraft guns and danger associated with being so close to London during the wartime, and secondly to take advantage of the rural location and healthy area of Hindhead.
The School became full boarding and it is a testimony to Brown’s popularity that nearly all the pupils moved with the School to Hindhead.
The new main School building was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and built for the specific purpose of a school in 1903. The building is important because the Mount School (as it was known) was the earliest design completed by Lutyens in the Wren style. Today it is classified as a “Grade 2* listed building of national significance?. Of particular interest are the strainer arches in the upstairs passage and the small windows on the eastern western face of the building, small because Lutyens believed that a room should contain pools of light rather than overall brightness.
Amesbury moved into its magnificent new home in time for the start of term in February 1918. The gymnasium was brought from Bickley by horse-drawn carts and re-erected on its present site.
In 1920, after sixteen years as Headmaster, Mr Brown resigned. He appears to have been a popular and effective Headmaster whose main aim was “that Amesbury should be a place for training the best men”.
Amesbury’s new Headmaster was Mr C.L. MacDonald who returned to teaching after a distinguished record during the War. Mr MacDonald (or Clem as he was known to all his pupils) introduced a system of stars and stripes – a system that continued in modified form until 1971
By the Autumn Term 1923, there were 51 boarders, which was a record. A neighbouring house called Bracklands was bought in 1927 and was to remain part of the School until 1979, housing classrooms, library, music and games room and some staff accommodation.
The thirties passed peacefully for the School. Clem’s health suffered and he died in 1939. Mr MacDonald had been at the school for eighteen years. He was a popular Headmaster, well respected and kind and remembered by a pupil of the time as “a genius.
The new Headmaster, Major Tom Reynolds, took over the School in the Autumn of 1938. One of the first things Reynolds did was to help design the School Chapel, which was put up during the Summer holidays and dedicated on October 2nd 1938 in the name of St Francis, by the Right Reverend J.V. Macmillan, Bishop of Guildford. Prior to the Chapel, prayers had been said in the corridor of the main school building. There were many gifts given to the Chapel on its dedication from Old Boys, parents, staff and pupils, including a pew in memory of the late headmaster, Mr MacDonald. One gift still in use today was an altar prayer book presented by the Rev W. R. Mills and Highfield School, with the following inscription. “A gift from Highfield School for use in this chapel in recollection of many happy years of rivalry.”
The wooden paneling covering the walls of the chapel was completed in 1942 and was a gift to the school from Lieutenant General B. L. Montgomery and his son David. King George VI gave Montgomery his consent to allow the Amesbury Chapel Choir to wear scarlet cassocks.
General Sir Bernard Montgomery, whose son David became a pupil in 1936 was a regular visitor to the school during the war. Amesbury was “home” for Montgomery and his son David (a former pupil) during the 40’s, the Reynolds became David’s guardians.
Montgomery regularly visited Amesbury when in this country. During the War he presented the School with signed portraits including those of the King and General Eisenhower. One trophy remembered was the famous red shirt worn by Garibaldi, which hung in a glass case opposite the dining hall.
By D Day in 1944, Amesbury had become Montgomery’s Rear HQ. A plaque was put on the door of his room in the Headmaster’s house with the 21st Army Group sign and it was here and in the summerhouse in the remembrance garden that he was visited by his staff and generals. On 5th June 1944 Montgomery dined at Amesbury before leaving for Normandy.
Apart from the excitement surrounding General Montgomery’s visits, life at Amesbury was little affected during the Second World War. Sporting fixtures against local preparatory schools such as Edgeborough, Highfield and St Edmund’s continued.
In 1947 following de-mobilisation, Mr A.G.Peel joined the Amesbury staff with the intention of going into partnership with Mr Reynolds and succeeding him as Headmaster. After a short time, however, Mr Reynolds decided to retire. He had made a tremendous impact on the boys who were at Amesbury, especially during the War years when their own fathers were away. Peel took over in 1948 in partnership with Mr J.L.Potter until the latter left in 1956 and continued as Headmaster until 1970.
1970 was a year of extreme difficulty and a crucial one in Amesbury’s history. After a long period of good numbers and a virtually unchanged staff, which had ensured a good record of academic success, changes began to happen. Mr Peel was himself reaching an age when he could reasonably think of retiring and there had been one or two abortive attempts to find a suitable successor to take over the school. Eventually the parents formed a committee and looked into the possibility of turning the School into an Educational Trust.
Mr Peel was doubtful whether this would work and decided to write to all parents giving them formal notice that the School, would close at the end of the summer term, but adding that efforts were being made to save it, which he hoped would succeed.
The Chairman of the Committee, Mr H.H. Rose, OBE, a parent, appealed to the parents “as this is Amesbury’s Centenary Year, it would be a tragedy if the School had to close. We have therefore, after a very careful review, come to the conclusion that we should endeavor to set up an Educational Trust, which would enable Amesbury to continue under a salaried Headmaster with a board of governors.”
A number of generous donations and interest free loans were received and by May the £25,000 minimum required had been assured and the committee decided, with Mr Peel’s willing co-operation, that the School should become an Educational Trust and a board of governors appointed. Mr Peel agreed to continue as Headmaster until a replacement could be found.
Today the main academic scholarship “The Rose Scholarship” is named after Mr H.H. Rose OBE.
During this uncertain time, numbers in the school suffered and by the time Dominick Spencer became the school’s first salaried Headmaster in 1971 there were only 59 boys in the School. The next three years saw numbers steadily rise - day boys were welcomed and the school adjusted so that they could play a full part in school life. Full boarding continued but weekly boarding was started for the younger pupils.
With numbers steadily increasing, the School was back on a sound financial footing and the governors felt able to start some much needed improvements. The old theatre was now too small and the gymnasium was converted to act as a centre for PE, fencing, badminton, theatre and cinema.
In 1973, with Science due to become a compulsory subject in Common Entrance, a dedicated teaching facility was needed. The next few years saw gradual improvements throughout the School, with money being raised through fetes and dances, thanks to the generosity of parents.
The early 1980?s saw the stable block converted for staff accommodation and the old vegetable garden became grass tennis courts until 1987 when the all weather hard courts were built.
A new teaching block was added in 1987 housing classrooms, art room and a new science lab. Always known as the New Block, in 1995, it was renamed Spencers as a tribute to Dominick and Sue Spencer, who retired in 1989.
In 1987 Amesbury opened a Pre-Prep Department (the first of its kind in the area) catering for pupils under seven.
1988-1994 Paul Cheater was appointed as Headmaster. During his leadership the school announced it intended to become co-educational.
1994 Nigel Taylor was appointed as 9th Headmaster of Amesbury. By 1994 the number of pupils had fallen to 76. However, as the school entered the new millennium it had grown to 325+ pupils and is now limited in size by Waverley Borough Council. There has been substantial investment in facilities during this period.
Your feedback has been submitted. Thanks!