|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (March 2010)|
|Motto||Pro Deo Rege Patria
("For God, king and country")
|Type||Independent day and boarding school|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Chaplain||Rev. Canon I. A. Wilson|
|Head of Prep School||N J Garrett|
|Former pupils||Old Woodbridgians|
Woodbridge School is an independent school in Woodbridge, Suffolk, England, founded in 1577, for the poor of Woodbridge. It was later supported by the Seckford Foundation. Woodbridge School has been co-educational since September 1974. The school today consists of Queen's House (pre-prep), The Abbey (prep) and the main school (ages 11-18).
The school was founded in 1577; however, like so many others, it lapsed during the Civil War. In 1662 Robert Marryott, known as ‘the great eater’, hosted a feast for local worthies in Woodbridge which started at the Crown Hotel and finished at the King’s Head in Woodbridge. From this feast came the reincarnation of the school which today enjoys the curious claim of being the only independent school in the country to have been founded in two public houses.
The Free School, Woodbridge, was an expression of the new confidence in England following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Local citizens contributed to the founding of the school in 1662, appointing a headmaster on an annual salary of £25 to teach, without charge, ten ‘sons of the meaner sort of the inhabitants of the town’. Additional pupils paid an annual fee of £1.
After a difficult start, including the ravages of the plague in 1666, the School flourished and enjoyed a glorious era in the eighteenth century when the East Anglian gentry enrolled their sons in great numbers. By the mid-nineteenth century, the cramped School building was proving inadequate and in 1861 the school integrated with the Seckford Trust, an almshouse charity, becoming a part beneficiary of an endowment left to the town of Woodbridge in 1587 by Thomas Seckford, Master of the Court of Requests to Queen Elizabeth I.
The intervening years have seen Woodbridge School develop into one of the top independent schools in the east of the country. In 1974 the school became fully co-educational and today thrives with over 950 pupils attending its three schools.
Despite an early low point in 1847 when the townspeople boarded up their windows because of the threat of the ‘disruptive behaviour of the scholars’, the Woodbridge town has always been aware of the role the school plays in the local community.
For much of the 20th century the school comprised a mixture of boarders and day boys. The boarding houses were Tallents (for first year pupils), Marryot, School and Queen's. The day houses - effectively just meeting rooms - were Annott, Burwell and Seckford.
The school is a co-educational school with a boarding component. It offers GCSE, IGCSE and AS/A Level examinations. The day pupil body is divided into four houses, Annott, Burwell, Seckford and Willard. There are an additional two houses: for boarders, the School House; and for Year 7, Junior House. The school is next to the local state school Farlingaye High School. Queen's House is the pre-prep division of the School (from Reception to Year 2) and The Abbey is the prep school, for Years 3–6. The school's music activities include. a symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, chamber choir and choral society as well as smaller ensembles. Student musicians have been members of regional and national ensembles including the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. There is a professional theatre, the Seckford Theatre.
Woodbridge School is one of three schools in England to employ a full-time grandmaster chess teacher.
Woodbridge School also hosts a Combined Cadet Force.
Sports are a major feature of life at Woodbridge. There are playing fields including cricket squares, a heated sports dome with gym facilities, Astro turf for either tennis or hockey, an athletics track, rugby and hockey pitches. Boys and Girls have two compulsory games sessions a week lasting one hour and one and a half hours. They must participate in the main game of the term in the lower school but from year 11 boys and girls have a choice of Games.
During the Michaelmas term, the sport curriculum is dominated by Rugby Union for boys and hockey for girls. During the Lent term hockey is the main game. During Trinity (summer) term, there is a more relaxed atmosphere with cricket being the main sport as well as athletics. Pupils also enjoy the occasional game of rounders or other games such as baseball and handball.
Other sports include sailing (which takes place at the nearby River Deben), riding, fencing, football, golf, netball, rowing, swimming, tennis, shooting and windsurfing.
Woodbridge has a Friday afternoon activity session, known as the Seckford Scheme. Every Friday, academic education ends at lunchtime, and the afternoons are devoted to activities under the Seckford Scheme.
From Year 9 onwards, students have a choice of joining the CCF, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme (or both) or honing their skills in the many different sports, arts, music, and other activities available at Woodbridge.
Notable former pupils
- Edward du Cann – Conservative politician
- Wayne Garvie – Director Content & Production, BBC Worldwide
- Nick Lowe – Rock musician and producer
- Campbell MacKenzie-Richards – Early British aviator and test pilot
- Jeremy Marchant Forde – Biologist
- Frank Morley – Mathematician
- Jessica Oyelowo – Actress
- Isabella Summers – Keyboardist of Florence and the Machine
- Andrew Taylor – Crime novelist
- Simon Wigg – Speedway rider
- Nick Griffin - Former MEP and leader of the British National Party
- Camilla Rutherford - Actress and model
- Luke Roberts - Actor
- Charlotte Christie - Actress
- Clare Coulson - Fashion Editor of the Daily Telegraph and writer for Harpers & Queen and author of "House Rules"
- David Miller - Philosopher
- Woodbridge School website
- BBC News League Tables Entry
- Profiles on the ISC website – The Abbey prep & Main School
- English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (284581)". Images of England.