Cheam School is a co-educational preparatory school in Headley, in the civil parish of Ashford Hill with Headley in the English county of Hampshire. It was founded in 1645 by the Reverend George Aldrich in Cheam, Surrey.
The school started in a house called Whitehall, now the site of a museum and visited on an annual basis by the younger children. The first event of any real note in the School's history was the Great Plague of London in 1665, when there was a great exodus from the City of London and villages like Cheam were suddenly overrun by children who had been sent there by wealthy parents in an attempt to escape the ravages of the plague.
In 1719, the School moved to Tabor Court, where it remained for over 200 years. The move from Cheam to the present site took place in 1934, when the area was developing from a quiet leafy village to a busy suburb. Just before it moved, the Duke of Edinburgh was a pupil there. His son, the Prince of Wales, was also a pupil at this school.
Two mergers in the 1990s, with Hawtreys and Inhurst House, helped to establish Cheam as a leading co-educational prep school.
The school has occupied its present home, on the borders of Hampshire and Berkshire, which has nearly 100 acres (400,000 m2) of grounds, gardens, and sports fields, since 1934. The current headmaster is Mark Johnson, who has been in post since 1998, and in 2007 he won the Tatler Magazine award for 'Best Headmaster of a Prep School'. Cheam now educates both boys and girls between the ages of three and thirteen and takes day-pupils as well as boarders.
There are four houses (known as divisions): Aldrich (yellow), Beck (green), Gilpin (red), and Tabor (blue). The school colours are red and blue.
The school has a high level of academic work, as well as drama productions, music and sports. In recent years nearly a third of leavers have gained Scholarships and Exhibitions to public schools. Academic awards were earned in 2010 to Winchester, Radley, Marlborough, Cheltenham Ladies' College, Wycombe Abbey, Wellington, Bradfield, and Harrow, and the number of scholarships for the year was seventeen.
The school has toured South Africa in a sporting capacity several times, most recently in 2009 when the 1st XI cricket and 1st VII netball teams secured victories in nine out of eleven matches, as well as raising £10,000 for the local Red Cross Children's Hospital. Both these teams qualified for the National JET finals in the same year and the cricketers repeated this achievement in 2010.
Notable alumni or former pupils
- Arthur Kinnaird, 11th Lord Kinnaird, footballer and banker
- Charles Bathurst, 1st Viscount Bledisloe
- Charles, Prince of Wales, heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II
- Ivo Bligh, 8th Earl of Darnley, England's first Ashes winning captain
- Cedric Dickens, grandson of the author Charles Dickens, died in WW1
- Alfred Tennyson, grandson of the Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson, died in WW1
- Jake Meyer 7 summits mountaineer
- Lord Dunsany, writer
- Lord Randolph Churchill, Conservative cabinet minister and father of Winston Churchill
- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, consort of Queen Elizabeth II
- Reginald Drax, admiral
- Robert S. de Ropp researcher in biochemistry, and writer on human potential
- William Fletcher rower
- Digby Mackworth Dolben, poet
- Prince Paul Louis of Nassau
- Sukhumbhand Paribatra
- "PETER BECK Headmaster who caned Prince Charles — twice" (obituary) in The Times dated 4 June 2002, p. 27, from The Times Digital Archive, accessed 16 September 2013