Woodhouse Grove School

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Woodhouse Grove School
Woodhouse Grove School Badge.png
Mottoes Bone et Fidelis
(Trans: Good and Faithful)
Established 1812 "Old Foundation"
1883 "New Foundation"
Type Independent Day and Boarding School
Religion Christian but also accepts children of other religions or Secular and non denominational children
Head David Humphreys
Chair of Governors Alan Wintersgill
Founder Adam Clarke and the Wesleyan Conference
Location Apperley Lane
Apperley Bridge
BD10 0NR
Students 700 ( including 90 Boarders)
Gender Co-educational
Ages 11–18

Green, Maroon, Red

Publication News From The Grove[1] and
The Grovian
Former Pupils Old Grovians
Feeder preparatory school Brontë House Junior Prep School
Pre School Facility Ashdown Lodge School
Website Woodhouse Grove School Website
Woodhouse Grove School. The wooded Grove Mount can be seen in the background
Commemorate plaque of opening date
Boarding accommodation can be seen on the top floor above classrooms
A careful mix of old and new building styles

Woodhouse Grove School ("The Grove") is an independent, coeducational, day and boarding public school and Sixth Form college in Apperley Bridge, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England for children aged between 11 and 18. The school, and its preparatory junior school, Brontë House, is located in the Aire Valley.[2]

Originally founded as an all-boys boarding preparatory institution, for the sons of Methodist Ministers, the school has developed over the latter part of the 20th century. Woodhouse Grove has evolved into a flexible independent education centre, providing education from the age of three through to graduation from the sixth form. There are approximately 1,000 students on roll, currently including around 90 boarders.

The school is located in a rural setting close to the metropolitan centres of Leeds, 10 miles (16 km) distant and Bradford, 4 miles (6 km) away. Leeds Bradford International Airport is approximately 3 miles (5 km) north-east of the school.

Although essentially a Christian school, Woodhouse Grove accepts children from other religions or children with no declared religious affiliations. The school offers academic and sixth form scholarships, bursaries for HM Forces families, clergy families and sixth form, music awards, sport awards and financial assistance for siblings.


Early Plans[edit]

Even in the early days of the Wesleyan Methodist movement a need had been identified for a school located in the north of England as a boarding establishment to educate the sons of ministers who moved frequently from ministry to ministry around the country. Kingswood School, near Bath, in the West Country, had served as the sole Methodist school since 1748, but the distance involved proved a problem for northern residents. The topic was first raised at Conference as early as 1781 and John Wesley himself replied, "Probably we may (provide such a school). Let our brethren think of a place and a master and send me word". No place was immediately found, however, and the matter postponed, but not totally forgotten.[3]

The need for a new school was not formally raised again for twenty five years until church theologian and scholar Adam Clarke made the suggestion at the 1806 conference in his first year as conference president.[4] Over the next five years the matter was discussed and progressed annually and several possible sites were examined.

The Grove[edit]

With a suitable house and grounds identified and purchased at Woodhouse Grove in Apperley near Bradford the decision to found the school was finally agreed by ballot at the Wesleyan Conference of 1811, still under the leadership of the influential and charismatic Adam Clarke.[5] This first period is referred to as the "Old Foundation" in the school’s history. It was initially established to provide an education for the sons of the itinerant ministers in service of the Methodist Church in the north of England. The original planned name was to be 'The Wesleyan Academy', as evidenced by a commemorative wall plaque at the school, but this name was quickly dropped in favour of Woodhouse Grove School.

Few alterations were needed to convert the house for use as a school, but the barn was cleaned up as a schoolroom and the stables converted as a chapel. The drawing room became a lecture and study room and thirty wooden cribs (or cots) were provided for the boys to sleep on. The school opened on 8 January 1812 under the headship of John Fennell as first master and with an initial roll of twenty seven pupils.[6]

For much of the 19th century, between 1812 and 1875, Woodhouse Grove and Kingswood operated as separate schools for children aged between eight and fifteen years old, with both schools under direct control of conference. The school also had a local management committee and there were frequent conflicts with conference over duplicated but differing decisions relating to teacher selection, staff salaries and building expansion needs. Between 1875 and 1883, the two schools were combined as a single school, despite the problems caused by being two hundred miles apart. The Grove served as a preparatory school with pupils then relocating at the age of thirteen to the upper school at Kingswood.[7]

The school was refounded on 21 September 1883, the "New Foundation Day", to admit boys from a wider spectrum of backgrounds. The Grove received its first pupils as a Methodist middle class boarding and day school under a new policy laid down by the Wesleyan Conference.[8][9] The sermon on the New Foundation Day was given by the Reverend Robert Newton Young, himself a former pupil of the school between 1837 and 1843, and the sermon was based around the text “Bone et Fidelis” or “Good and Faithful” which was to become the new school motto to the present day.[10]

By the summer term of 1884, the school roll had expanded rapidly to 155 pupils. During the Second World War, and under direct grant funding after the 1944 Education Act, the school expanded quickly, with boarding pupils placed and paid for by London County Council and the East Riding of Yorkshire authority.[11]

Traditionally a school for boys only, the school first admitted girls to the sixth form in 1979 and has been fully co-educational since 1985. The school has continued to expand since its origins, adding modern buildings as required almost continuously over its existence. The school originally sat in a few acres of semi-rural land but now extends over 70 acres (280,000 m2) of playing fields, riverside and woodlands.

Brontë House[edit]

For several years, HM Inspector of Schools had recommended that Woodhouse Grove make better provision for younger pupils. Under the guidance of the Secretary of the Methodist Education Committee, Rev. H. B. Workman, the preparatory school at Brontë House was founded in 1934 as a junior preparatory school for five- to eleven-year-old boys. The school became a coeducational establishment in 1985.[12]

The school stands in the grounds of a former private residence called Ashdown House and was originally known as 'Woodhouse Grove Preparatory School'. Ashdown House stood in the grounds of an older mansion known as Upperwood House where Charlotte Brontë was once governess to the White family’s two children. The first master of the new school was Dr F.C. Pritchard MA, who later wrote the 1978 history of the school and its development.[12] Charlotte Brontë’s father, the Reverend Patrick Brontë, had met Maria, his wife to be, while visiting his friend, John Fennell, who became the first headmaster of the Grove in the early 19th century.

Initially, Brontë House had no kitchen facility of its own and the children were escorted back and forth in all weathers to the Grove for their lunches and dinner. Later, a small car was bought by the school to ferry prepared meals from the main school kitchen to Brontë House,[13] until a proper kitchen was built several years later. A boarding facility is provided for pupils.

Ashdown Lodge[edit]

Ashdown Lodge opened in September 1993, as the Early Years Department of Woodhouse Grove, thus providing the opportunity for continuity of education from three to eighteen years of age.

The school today[edit]

The school consists of three symbiotic parts:

  • Ashdown Lodge (Nursery) — Ashdown Lodge, situated quarter of a mile from the Grove, is the Early Years department of Woodhouse Grove, for pre-school children aged between three and five. The nursery provides full day and part-time morning or afternoon sessions and is open all year except during the Christmas period. It also provides after-school care, and a local holiday play scheme.
  • Brontë House (Junior) — Brontë House is for children aged between five and eleven is also a quarter of a mile from the Grove. Recent SATs results at ages seven and eleven regularly state Brontë House to be one of the top junior schools of the region, and there is automatic promotion to the Woodhouse Grove senior school. The headmaster of Brontë school is Mr Simon Dunn. In 2014 there are 331 pupils registered as attending Brontë House.
The playing fields viewed from the school
The gymnasium viewed from the playing fields
One of the school's two cricket pitches
Leeds & Liverpool canal, just south of the school playing field
  • Woodhouse Grove (Secondary and sixth form) — The Grove benefits from all-round facilities (including a sports and performing arts complex) and comfortable boarding accommodation. As a Methodist Christian foundation, providing a caring community, each pupil is encouraged to develop individual talents to the full.

Given its broad intake, academic standards remain high and examination results good.[14] The school is very strong in music and drama. Sporting facilities are first rate and the standards in sport and games are high, providing several county and national representatives. There is a genuine commitment to local community services and a strong fund-raising spirit.

The school has seen substantial financial investment over the last 15 years which has enhanced its fantastic facilities. The Sports Hall and theatre complex was built in 2003 which was then followed by the addition of a Music and Performing Arts centre in 2009. The schools 200th birthday celebrations saw the completion of the Jubilee Swimming pool, a newly built 25m competition pool and the all weather pitch The Grainge. This pitch was named after Old Grovian George "Leslie" Grainge who was at the school in the 1920s and later went on to be a professional Rugby player (see note below).


Boarding arrangements are flexible: occasional, weekly or full boarding. Day pupils benefit from the wide range of activities that a boarding school provides and the flexibility of occasionally staying overnight or coming in early for breakfast and staying for tea is appealing to many families.

The boarding accommodation consists of two houses. Brodwell house for boys, which was purpose-built in 2006 and accommodates all pupils in twin rooms with en suite bathroom, and Miller house for girls in the old part of the school, giving girls a view across the Aire Valley. Activities are arranged for boarding pupils at weekends.

Notable staff[edit]

Former Manchester United Footballer and Yorkshire and England cricketer, Arnie Sidebottom, teaches PE at the Grove.

School badge[edit]

The school badge is an Escutcheon (or shield) bearing a Party per cross division of the field in Argent (or silver) that represents both the Cross of Christ and Peace.

The tincture (or colour) of two quadrants is Gules (or red) that represents Courage and magnaminity. The remaining quadrants have a tincture of Vert (or green) that stands for Hope and Joy.

An Escallop (or sea shell) usually represents St James or is symbolic of a pilgrimage to a foreign land. Also because, once separated, a shell cannot be rejoined it also represents Fidelity. Where shown in a group of three the escallops usually represent Crusader grants for three separate Holy Crusades to Galilee.

The castle Keep is the strongest part of a castle and represents the strength of the church.

The open Bible is the basic book of learning and here it shows both faith and the search for knowledge.

The use of the school badge image in this article will have no effect on the school's commercial use of the image in question. It is displayed only to allow identification and critical commentary on school and school logo for this article about the school itself and should not be used for any other purpose.

Notable alumni[edit]

The Old Grovian Association currently has 3,600 members from previous students and staff. Notable alumni include:[15]


  1. ^ Woodhouse News
  2. ^ Description of school
  3. ^ [The Story of Woodhouse Grove by F.C. Pritchard 1978 – Privately published ASIN: B0006D1JSS – Page 2]
  4. ^ [The Story of Woodhouse Grove by F.C. Pritchard 1978 – Privately published ASIN: B0006D1JSS – Page 4]
  5. ^ [The Story of Woodhouse Grove by F.C. Pritchard 1978 – Privately published ASIN: B0006D1JSS – Page 7]
  6. ^ [The Story of Woodhouse Grove by F.C. Pritchard 1978 – Privately published ASIN: B0006D1JSS – Page 9]
  7. ^ [The Story of Woodhouse Grove by F.C. Pritchard 1978 – Privately published ASIN: B0006D1JSS – Preface page xii]
  8. ^ [The Story of Woodhouse Grove by F.C. Pritchard 1978 – Privately published ASIN: B0006D1JSS – Page 205]
  9. ^ Opening up of the school
  10. ^ [The Story of Woodhouse Grove by F.C. Pritchard 1978 – Privately published ASIN: B0006D1JSS – Page 217]
  11. ^ [The Story of Woodhouse Grove by F.C. Pritchard 1978 – Privately published ASIN: B0006D1JSS – Page 328]
  12. ^ a b [The Story of Woodhouse Grove by F.C. Pritchard 1978 – Privately published ASIN: B0006D1JSS – Page 317]
  13. ^ [The Story of Woodhouse Grove by F.C. Pritchard 1978 – Privately published ASIN: B0006D1JSS – Page 319]
  14. ^ BBC Results table
  15. ^ Old Grovian website

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°50′24.27″N 01°41′59.39″W / 53.8400750°N 1.6998306°W / 53.8400750; -1.6998306