Ardingly College

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Ardingly College
Motto Latin:Beati Mundo Corde
"Blessed are the pure in heart"
Established 1858
Type Independent day and boarding
Public school
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Ben Figgis
Provost Lindsay Urwin
Chairman of Governors Jim Sloane
Founder Nathaniel Woodard
Location Ardingly
West Sussex
DfE number 938/6200
Students c.935
Gender Co-educational
Ages 2½–18
Colours Green, Yellow and White             
Former pupils Old Ardinians
Visitor The Bishop of Chichester ex officio
Affiliation Woodard Corporation

Ardingly College is a selective independent co-educational boarding and day school, founded in 1858 by Canon Nathaniel Woodard, included in the Tatler list of top public schools.[1] The college is located in the village of Ardingly near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, England, having moved to its present location in 1870.[2] The school is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and of the Woodard Corporation of independent schools and as such has a strong Anglo-Catholic tradition.[3] The school became fully co-educational in 1982.[4]

Foundation and overview[edit]

Ardingly College was originally founded as St Saviour’s School, Shoreham in 1858 by Canon Nathaniel Woodard whose aim was to provide education based on sound principle and sound knowledge, firmly grounded in the Christian faith.[5] St Saviour’s School opened on 12 April 1858, occupying the New Shoreham buildings in the lee of the churchyard of St Mary de Haura which had been vacated by another Woodard School, Lancing College, when it moved to its permanent home in April 1858.[5] The site at Shoreham however was never intended to be permanent and it was left to Woodard to scour the South of England for a suitable permanent location for St Saviour’s School.[5]

In 1861 Woodard came across the 196 acre (0.79 km²) Saucelands estate at the southern edge of Ardingly village, which was acquired in 1862 for £6,000.[5] Woodard employed Richard Carpenter as the school's architect, and the foundation stone at Ardingly was laid on 12 July 1864 by Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville.[5] St Saviour’s School moved to the partially completed site at Ardingly on 14 June 1870 when the new school was officially opened by the Bishop of Chichester, with the inaugural sermon delivered by Samuel Wilberforce.[5]

Today Ardingly occupies a 420 acre (1.7 km²) site situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[6] Ardingly is divided into three autonomous schools, comprising a Pre-Preparatory School catering for pupils aged 2½ -7, Junior School catering for pupils aged 7–13 and Senior School for pupils aged 13–18.[7] Both Junior and Senior Schools accommodate boarders who make up the majority of the Senior School student population.[8] All Junior and Senior School students are assigned to a boarding house in which boarders live and study and where day-pupils have study areas. In all, the college has approximately 750 pupils.[9] According to the Good Schools Guide 2008, Ardingly College has admitted more pupils this year than at any point in its history and places are at a premium.[10]

Brief history[edit]

Main school entrance

The College's Combined Cadet Force was established in 1902 in the wake of the Second Boer War.[5] 1,200 Old Ardinians went on to fight in World War I, 146 of whom were killed along with two members of staff; their names are recorded on the war memorial in the Chapel.[5] In addition 88 Old Ardinians lost their lives in World War II; their names are recorded in a Book of Remembrance in the Crypt, and on the Memorial Board in the Under.[5]

In 1958 the College celebrated its centenary. As part of the celebrations Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the College on 9 June 1958.[5] A stone plaque on the terrace parapet commemorates the Queen's visit, where she 'beheld the view'.[5] Later that week on 14 June 1958 the then Prime Minister Harold MacMillan visited the College to formally open the Centenary Building, which comprises the College cricket pavilion and Centenary Room upstairs.[5] On 8 May 2008 His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent visited the College as part of its sesquicentenary celebrations where he officially opened a new teaching block at the Pre-Preparatory School.[11]


Chapel (left) and dining hall (right)

In 2014, 65% of GCSE entries were awarded A* or A grades.[12] Since 2001 Ardingly has offered the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme to sixth-formers in addition to traditional A-Levels.[13] In 2008 Ardingly was ranked 7th in the UK in The Independent's league table of schools offering both an A-Level and IB curriculum. In 2012 44% of A-Level entries were awarded A* or A grades, while IB students averaged 38 points, equivalent to A*AAA at A-Level. 18% of IB students achieved 40 or more points putting them in the top 5% worldwide.[14]


Ardingly has several sports available to both prep students and college students. Athletics and cross country, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rounders, swimming, tennis, squash, and fencing are all open to prep students.[15] The same set is offered for college students with the addition of badminton, rugby, basketball, scuba diving, and sailing, and the exception of rounders, cross country, and swimming.[16][17] Ardingly have won the Independent Schools Football Association Cup twice, in 1997-98 and 2014-15.


As of the academic year 2015/16, Shell-5th boarding fees are £29,715 per annum while Shell-5th day fees are £21,960 per annum.[18] Sixth form boarding fees are £31,425 per annum, while Sixth form day fees are £23,160 per annum.[18]

Notable Old Ardinians[edit]

Former students of Ardingly College are referred to as "Old Ardinians". (See also Category:People educated at Ardingly College.)


Conservative MP Sir Robert Tasker

Diplomatic service[edit]

Ambassador to the United States Sir David Manning
Ambassador to Russia Sir Andrew Wood


Editor of Private Eye Ian Hislop



Formula One driver Max Chilton
England footballer and Sussex cricketer George Brann





Showman Charles Cruft



(Until Bulteel, every headmaster was an ordained priest.)

Frederick Mertens, Ardingly's first Headmaster
  • Frederick Mertens (1858–1894)
  • Francis Hilton (1894–1904)
  • Herbert Rhodes (1904–1911)
  • Marchant Pearson (1911–1914)
  • Thomas Wilson (1915–1932)
  • Ernest Crosse DSO MC (1933–1946)
  • George Snow (1947–1961)
  • Christopher Bulteel MC (1962–1980)
  • James Flecker (1980–1998)
  • John Franklin (1998–2007)
  • Peter Green (2007–2014)
  • Ben Figgis (2014–)

Boarding houses[edit]

There are several houses at Ardingly, e.g. Mertens (day/boarding house for boys), Hilton (day/boarding house for boys), Toynbee (day/boarding house for girls in lower sixth - first year in either the IB programme or in A-levels), Rhodes (a day house for boys), Crosse (another day house for boys), Neal (a day house for girls), Aberdeen (a day/boarding house for girls) and last but not least The Woodard House for all students attending the upper sixth - the second year of the IB programme or the A-level.

Ardingly College Lodge[edit]

The school has its own Masonic Lodge, Ardingly College Lodge, which is a member of the elite Freemason "Public School Lodges" Council.[19] The Lodge, which is open to male Old Ardinians as well as those with an affiliation to the college, was founded in 1922 by the then headmaster, Thomas Erskine Wilson, together with masters, the Provost of the school and the Bishop of Lewes.[20]

Southern Railway Schools class[edit]

The school lent its name to the eighteenth steam locomotive (Engine 917) in the Southern Railway's Class V of which there were 40.[21] This Class was also known as the Schools Class because all 40 of the class were named after prominent English Public Schools. 'Ardingly', as it was called, was built in 1934 and was withdrawn in 1962.[21]


  1. ^ "Independent Schools - Ardingly College". Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  2. ^ "History of Ardingly, West Sussex". Archived from the original on 25 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  3. ^ "HMC Schools". Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  4. ^ "UK School Guide - Ardingly College". Archived from the original on 12 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Gibbs, David (2008). A School with a View: A History of Ardingly College 1858-2008. James & James Publishers Ltd. ISBN 978-1-903942-83-3. 
  6. ^ "Ardingly College". Archived from the original on 2008-07-17. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  7. ^ "Ardingly College - One College, Three Schools". Archived from the original on 2008-06-13. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  8. ^ "Woodard Schools - Ardingly College". Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  9. ^ "Department for Children, Schools and Families - Ardingly College". Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Ardingly College - 150th Anniversary Celebration". Archived from the original on 24 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-22. [dead link]
  12. ^
  13. ^ "ISBI Schools - Ardingly College". Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^ "Public School Lodges' Council". Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  20. ^ "Ardingly College Lodge". Retrieved 2007-02-07. 
  21. ^ a b "Southern Railway Schools Class". Retrieved 2008-06-29. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Argent, N. (1991) Ardingly College 1939–1990. Autolycus Press.
  • Gibbs, D. (2008) A School with a View: A History of Ardingly College 1858–2008. James & James Publishers Ltd.
  • Letts, S. (1985) Ardingly: Its Building and Buildings. Old Ardinians Society.
  • Perry, R. (1951) Ardingly 1858–1946: A History of the School. Old Ardinians Society.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°02′26″N 00°05′23″W / 51.04056°N 0.08972°W / 51.04056; -0.08972