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The History of Ashford School

Ashford School has a rich history, which has seen the School teach its pupils from the High Street and become home to injured soldiers during the Second World War. We are proud that our Senior School site remains on the same premises that it moved to in 1913.

1898 –  Mrs Muriel Thimann opened a small school for “ladies” in Queens Road, Ashford. Nothing much is known of this school except that, before long, it was necessary to move to larger premises; first in Wellesley Road in 1903 and then to two houses in the High Street in 1905.

1910 – Mrs Edwards bought the school and renamed it “The Modern High School for Girls”. Within a short time the school expanded into another, adjacent house in the High Street and then finally moved to yet again bigger premises on East Hill in 1913.

1913 – The move to Alfred House at East Hill with its large gardens offered the opportunity of further growth and development. The School’s aim was to afford a “sound education…under Christian influence” giving careful attention to “the training and development of character”.

1928 – Mrs Edwards retired and was succeeded by Miss Lilian Brake. There were over 250 pupils in the school. Miss Brake led the school through the war years and its evacuation to Devon and then presided over a sustained period of development and growth, finally retiring in 1955.

1940 – Due to the German occupation of the channel ports in May 1940, Ashford Girls School was evacuated to Devon during the war, and took up residence in a number of buildings in the village of Countess Wear, whilst the Prep School was moved to Grove Hill, Topsham. The School was to be based there for the next 5 years, and in this time flourished. Day pupils rose from 31 to 90, and the total number of pupils grew from 211 to 272.

1945-1946 – After the end of World War Two, all pupils were welcomed back to Ashford School over the course of the academic year.

1949 – Friars Prep School was established at Great Chart by Mr and Mrs Lendrum in 1949 and rapidly became a popular and successful boys’ school, educating many of the brothers of Ashford girls and preparing them for a combination of local state, grammar and independent schools. The School registered its 100th pupil in 1952.

1955 – Miss Brake retired and Miss Nightingale took over. She set about updating the facilities to cope with the large number of pupils and growing demand. The Jubilee Building, Brake Hall and classrooms were all added while Somerville, Cranmer and Brooke were all remodelled. By the time she retired in 1971 pupil numbers had risen to over 750.

1966 – Friars Prep School became a Charitable Trust.

1972 – Miss Thompson took over as Head and continued the development of the school by building the Octagons, Sports Hall, New Alfred and extending the junior school and Cranmer. The Refectory was added in 1978.

1979 – Friars Prep School expanded and opened a new Preparatory Department, taking boys from 5-7 years old, and a new gymnasium was built.

1984 – Mrs Macaire took over as Head and introduced changes to the curriculum when the National Curriculum was launched. Brabourne was opened as a boarding house.

1988 – Friars Prep School opened the new Nursery Department, and saw girls admitted for the first time into the Nursery and Preparatory.

1992 – Mrs Metham succeeded Mrs Macaire in 1992 and stayed for five years. During this period the pupils achieved consistently highly and the school stood high in the league tables.

1997 – Mrs Burnett joined to lead the school, followed by Mrs Holloway in 2001. These were difficult years for the school as the number of boarders declined.

1998 – The School Council took the decision to join the United Church Schools Trust (then known as the Church Schools Company). In doing so, they secured the future of the School. In 1998 a Centenary History of Ashford School was written by Patricia Earlham and published for sale.

2005 – Michael Buchanan was appointed as the first male Head of the School. Ashford School merged with Friars Prep School in Great Chart and relaunched itself as a co-educational school for boys and girls from age 3 months to 18 years.

2006 – The first boys arrived in the Senior School in September 2006 and boy boarders joined the following year. Pupil numbers continued to rise and now stand at over 1,000. At the same time, the Prep School was relocated to Great Chart in new buildings, the Learning Resource Centre was created in Somerville, the Atrium Cafe installed in Coronation together with new Maths classrooms and new boarding houses opened in Brooke and Alfred.

2009 – In late 2009, the Pre-Prep School moved to Great Chart after the completion of a major new building including 18 new classrooms, new hall, entrance area and dining hall. With the addition of 25 acres of playing fields for all at Great Chart the School is well set for a vibrant future.

2012 – The United Church Schools Trust and its sister charity the United Learning Trust were combined under a single trading name of United Learning.

2016 – Ashford School set up the Ashford School Foundation, a separate charity, dedicated to supporting the School’s ambitions for the creation of an endowment fund for Bursaries and for the further development of its facilities.

2018 – Michael Buchanan stepped down as Head of Ashford School, and Michael Hall was appointed in his place.

Visit Us

  • Ashford Prep School
    Great Chart, Ashford, Kent, TN23 3DJ
    +44 (0)1233 620493
    The Stables Nursery: +44 (0)1233 656865

  • Ashford Senior School
    East Hill, Ashford, Kent, TN24 8PB
    +44 (0)1233 625171
    Bridge Nursery: +44 (0)1233 636450

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