About St Neot’s Preparatory School.
There has been a school on the site of St Neot's since 1869 when the Reverend Richard Powles, a childhood friend of Charles Kingsley, leased the newly built Wixenford House and opened it as a boys' boarding school. Wixenford School remained in Eversley until 1887 when Mr Ernest Arnold, headmaster at the time, had a disagreement with his landlord and moved his school to Wokingham. In 1888 Eversley became the new home of St Neot's when Mr C Locke took over the lease of the building.
St Neot’s – The story so far.....
1869 - Augustus Stapleton, owner of Warbrook House in Eversley, builds Wixenford House and leases it to the Reverend Richard Powles who opens it as a boy’s boarding school.
1886 – Cyril Calliphronas opens his school, St Neot’s in Sunningdale, Berkshire. He has approximately 15 to 20 boys on his register. After years of misspelling and mispronunciation Cyril changes his surname to Locke. Matters are brought to a head when a footman introduces Cyril and his wife as ‘Mr and Mrs Carnivorous’!
1888 – After a dispute with their landlord, Wixenford School moves to Wokingham and St Neot’s moves to its new home in Eversley.
1904 – Cyril Locke, now a widower, retires and moves into a property in Eversley with his daughter Lilah and son Ivo. Arthur Delme-Radcliffe becomes St Neot’s new Headmaster and runs the school with his business partner Mr William Ellis. Before coming to St Neot’s Arthur enjoyed a brief career as a first class cricketer for Hampshire
1918 – Numbers at the school continue to grow steadily but sadly by the time of the Armistice in November the school has lost over 33 of its old boys in the Great War.
1929 – Arthur Delme-Radcliffe steps down after 25 years and retires to his family home in Dorset. The number of boys on the register now stands between 35 and 40. The Reverend Aubrey William Hooper now takes on the care of the school and begins a family association with the school that will last 60 years.
1945 – Like his predecessor Aubrey Hooper has steered his school through yet another World War and now has the unhappy task of adding another 23 names to the schools memorial board. The school continues to go from strength to strength. New buildings are added and as numbers grow, a waiting list is occasionally brought into use.
1955 – After 26 years Mr Hooper decides that the time is right to hand the care of the school over to his son Christopher, who becomes St Neot’s fourth Headmaster. During his tenure the school continues to prosper. It becomes a Charitable Trust in 1955, new classrooms are added and the Simmons Hall is built.
1989 – Christopher Hooper, St Neot’s longest serving Head, retires bringing to an end 60 years of the Hooper families care. He hands the reins over to Richard Thorp, who will see the school safely through the next 22 years. These years will see many new additions, including a new boarding house, dining room and nursery building. The sight of the Headmaster, resplendent in his gilet, setting off on his quad bike across the pitches is a familiar one.
2011 – St Neot’s says goodbye to its fifth Headmaster with a spectacular outdoor concert in the school grounds. Jerry Gear now takes on the leadership of the school. Though his tenure is a short one, work begins on the new Forest School and the climbing wall becomes a popular feature on the outside of the Performing Arts Centre. 2013 – Maria Lloyd and Peter Withers are appointed as joint Heads and during their 2 year tenure continue to develop the outdoor learning provision, with the introduction of challenge stations in the woods, as well as outdoor learning lessons in rotation for children in Years 3 - 8.
2015 - Deborah Henderson joins the school as the new Head and a skills based approach to learning is introduced, adopting the principles of the PSB (Pre Senior Baccalaureate). The school sees the development of extensive modern sports facilities and Outdoor Learning becomes a bespoke subject. Swimming becomes a bespoke subject for children from age 3 upwards and tennis lessons are introduced from age 2. Boarding ceases at the school and the picturesque building becomes home to the ‘Arts Centre’, with DT and Art studios, Sibelius suite and music practice rooms. The development of the ‘Health Hub’ provides a central focus for pastoral care at the school.
Did you know?
● Four generations of the Taylor family have cared for the grounds at St Neot’s. In the late 1800’s William Taylor could be found mowing the cricket pitch with the aid of his large white horse which was kept in the stable block underneath what is now the art room.
● There has been a swimming pool at the school since the 1890’s, when Cyril Locke built the first ‘swimming bath’. It took five days to fill using a hand pump to draw water from the school well. The water was brown, cold and usually full of leaves!
● In the 1800’s the school was lit by Acetylene gas which proved to be highly temperamental. This meant that in the winter months some lessons were inevitably conducted by candlelight.
● From the 1930’s to the 1950’s the school had its own Scout Troop. In 1947 a Scout hut was erected at the edge of ‘White’s’, next to what is now the Mountain Bike track. If you look closely the remains of the foundations can still be seen.
● St Neot’s has an excellent equestrian pedigree. Amongst its Alumni it can boast two Grand National winning jockeys – Frank Furlong (Reynoldstown 1935) and Robert Petre (Lovely Cottage 1947). The racing correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, Bill Curling, also attended the school.
● The Warren, which sits on the corner of St Neot’s Road, was built by Mr Locke in 1897. It was used as a sanatorium and staff accommodation for the school and was also used from time to time as an overflow dormitory.
● Up until the 1990’s the school’s houses were called Beatty, Kitchener, Churchill, Haig and Scott.
● Cyril Locke was a keen amateur photographer and built his own dark room at the school. The archive contains a number of photos taken and developed by him in the 1890’s.
● The archives at St Neot’s contains a large variety of documents, including cricket score books from over 100 years ago, photographs from the 1890’s onwards, school registers dating from 1886, St Neot’s Magazines from 1893 through to the 1960’s and much more!
School Past and Present.
Originally an arboretum, our wonderful 70 acre woodland is home to The Hive, a stimulating and enriching outdoor classroom. We place emphasis on developing independence, self-confidence, curiosity and collaboration. Our Forest School and Outdoor Education programme help children, of all ages, to develop these attributes that are so vital to chances of success in the modern world.
First Students, c1880.
Mr Locke's entire student body c1880.
World Class Sports Facilities.
Outstanding sports facilities including modern swimming pool, sports hall, all weather astro and tennis courts, as well as extensive playing fields.
Prep School Baccalaureate.
St Neot's are proud to adopt the national scheme the Prep School Baccalaureate. The PSB is a national, two year programme of study for pupils in Year 7 and Year 8.
The PSB offers a unique method for prep schools to achieve high academic standards in combination with a broad and balanced curriculum. It seeks to promote vital skills in independent learning, in the appropriate use of technology and in critical thinking. The programme also encourages the development of leadership and team-working in pupils.