Beechwood Park School
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (August 2009)|
|Type||Preparatory day and boarding|
|Religion||Church of England|
|DfE URN||117620 Tables|
Beechwood Park School, also familiarly referred to as "Beechwood", is a co-educational independent day and boarding school in Hertfordshire in England, UK for reception to year 8. It is set on the site of an old Mansion house with extensions put in over the last 50 years including the junior school, middle school, sports hall and performance hall. The school was founded in 1964 with the merge of two other local prep schools. In addition to its teaching facilities, the school is known for its extensive grounds which include a nature reserve, a large wood and numerous playing fields. There are 3 tennis courts, a swimming pool and a small golf course.
Beechwood Park School was formed in 1964, as a result of the amalgamation of two much older prep schools, Shirley House (in Watford) and Heath Brow School (in Hemel Hempstead). By 1961 the buildings and estate of Beechwood Park were in a terrible state of neglect and disrepair. What had once been the family seat of the aristocratic Sebright family had gradually sunk from its former glory, dwindling into a somewhat anarchic girls’ boarding school, and then becoming an uninhabited ruin (reputed, then as now, to be haunted). It was apparently close to demolition when it went on the market in 1961. The Stewart family who owned Shirley House put in a successful bid and decided to restore it. However, shortly after Group Captain Peter Stewart OBE (the brother of a former Head of Shirley House) became Estates Manager of Beechwood, a freak hurricane did enormous further damage—among other things, sending four Tudor chimney stacks crashing into the present Dining Hall. So it was a long haul (three years’ work) for him and his many helpers, one of whom was a very young Mr Bob Bonnick (who worked there 50 years, retiring as the school's Maintenance Manager in 2010). Peter Stewart deserves to be remembered as the present school’s true ‘onlie begetter’.
Beechwood Park School has had four Headmasters to date: Alan Mould (formerly Head of Shirley House, and latterly twice Chairman of IAPS); John Higgs; David Macpherson; and Patrick Atkinson. Portraits of the first three hang in the Entrance Hall. The Mary Welsford Junior School (1982) and the Sports Hall (1985) were the first major new buildings to be erected. The transformation of the buildings that have now become the Music School occurred shortly afterwards. Then came the Joan Laing Middle School building (1999) and the new Performance Hall (2001). Internal changes have been made necessary by the expansion of the prep school curriculum: Science, Art, CDT and ICT have all resulted in significant developments and transformations. The school was originally for boys only, but girls began to be admitted in the Junior Department in the early 1980s; finally the school became truly co-educational in the mid 1990s. It has since grown to its present school roll of about 470. Pupils at the school are divided into four houses, named Tudor, Saunders, Sebright and Stewart in homage to the history of the school and its buildings. In addition the boarding dormitories are named after prominent local towns and villages, such as Studham, Markyate, Flamstead and Gaddesden.
It is thought that when Prince Edward VI was very ill (as a child) he was sent here to grasp some fresh air. Henry would come and visit him occasionally.
Beechwood Park gave its name to a song by The Zombies, written by the group's bassist Chris White, who grew up in Markyate.
- Martin Bayfield, rugby player
- Julian Bliss
- Alan Duncan, politician
- Edward McFarlane, member of Friendly Fires
- Beechwood Park School
- "Dirty Dozen film at Beechwood - Local History Questions". Hemel Hempstead Gazette. Retrieved 27 July 2010.[dead link]