Bishop's Stortford College

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Bishop's Stortford College
Bishop's Stortford College.png
Established 1868
Type Independent Day & Boarding school
Headmaster Jeremy Gladwin
Location 10 Maze Green Road
Bishop's Stortford
CM23 2PJ
United Kingdom
Local authority Hertfordshire
Students 1146[1]
Gender Co-educational
Ages 4–18
Houses 9 (Senior)
4 (Junior)
Former pupils Old Stortfordians

Bishop's Stortford College is a leading independent, co-educational day and boarding school for pupils from the ages of four to eighteen, with a 130-acre (0.53 km2) campus located on the edge of Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. As an "all-through" school it is a member of both the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools.


Bishop's Stortford College was founded in 1868 by a group of prominent Nonconformists in East Anglia who wanted to establish a public school

in which Evangelical Nonconformists might secure for their boys an effective and Christian education on terms that should not be beyond the reach of the middle class generally. It was built on an old school called Newbury which is one of the Junior Schools Houses.

They approached the Bishop's Stortford Collegiate School, a non-sectarian school founded in 1850, and acquired the school buildings, naming the new educational establishment as the Nonconformist Grammar School.

Two grammar schools in the town proved confusing so in 1901 the name was changed to the Bishop’s Stortford College and the association became instead a board of governors with nominees from the Baptist, Congregational and Presbyterian churches on the panel.

The school’s first headmaster was the Reverend Richard Alliott and its first pupils were 40 in number. Rev Alliott led the school for 31 years and his successor Francis Young was also in post for 31 years.

It is notable that the school only had five head teachers during its first one hundred years:

  • Rev Alliott (1869–99)
  • F S Young (1900–31)
  • H L Price (1932–43)
  • A N Evans (1944–57)
  • P W Rowe (1957–70)


  • G C Greetham (1971–84)
  • S G G Benson (1984–97)
  • John Trotman (1997—2011)
  • Jeremy Gladwin (2011- )

During its early years, the school built up a strong reputation in the sports field and swimming, and was one of the first schools in the country to have its own indoor heated pool, built in 1895. The Bishop's Stortford College Centenary Chronicle records:

The new bath, which cost something in the region of £5000, was an immense addition to the athletic life and the amenities of the school. Before it was built, swimming was possible only in the summer term, in the part of the River Stort near the cattle market that had been railed off as a town swimming pool; here such things as broken glass bottles would be found at times on the muddy bottom with grave danger to the bathers’ feet. Now, with a heated bath under cover, it was possible to bathe the whole year round, and the swimming standards of the boys improved greatly.

Under the headmastership of Francis Young, the school continued to grow in both size and reputation. Young commissioned many of the red brick school buildings designed in the arts and craft style by Herbert Ibberson (an Old Stortfordian with an architectural practice in Hunstanton), acquired the sports fields which occupy 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land and, in 1902, took over an existing school for boys aged 7 to 13 years. The life of the Bishop's Stortford College Preparatory School began with just eight day pupils and eight boarders.

The Memorial Hall, Bishop's Stortford College’s most distinctive building, was designed in Georgian Colonial style by architect Clough Williams-Ellis who was known chiefly as creator of the Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales. The Memorial Hall was erected in 1922 to commemorate the 62 pupils who had lost their lives in the First World War. A second Roll of Honour was added in 1949, inscribed with the names of a further 154 former students who lost their lives in World War II.

In 1968 the school celebrated its centenary with a visit from the Queen Mother and in 1977 the first girls were admitted into its Sixth Form.[2] The transition to full co-education throughout the school began in 1995 coinciding with the opening of a new Pre-Preparatory Department for both girls and boys aged 4 to 7 years.

Present day[edit]

Bishop's Stortford College today caters for girls and boys from the age of 4 to 18 years within the 130-acre (0.53 km2) campus.

Belonging to one of the Stortford houses continues to be a major part of life for all Senior School pupils and Prep School boarders. There are nine houses in total in the senior school; Benson House (girls day), Alliot House (girls day), Young House (girls boarding), Tee House (flexi-boarding girls), Sutton House (boys day), Collett House (boys day), Hayward House (boys day), School House (boys boarding), and Robert Pearce House (boys boarding).

The original school buildings are still in use and many facilities have since been added including accommodation for the Prep School, the Pre-Prep and extensions to the boarding facilities. The Charles Edward Centre houses ICT, Physics and Design and Technology and the Leo Price Theatre, which began life as a gymnasium, has been developed into a highly versatile performance venue.

The original indoor bath was replaced in 2002 by a modern swimming facility with a 25-metre, six-lane main pool, learner pool and large spectator gallery.

In 2005, a new home for the Pre-Prep was built with six classrooms, a large assembly hall, library, music room and IT suite.

In 2006, an innovative Science Action Centre was opened housing over 40 interactive displays. Believed to be the only one of its kind in a school in the UK, the centre is open to local schools, as well as being used as a learning resource for the College's own pupils.

The Ferguson Building (opened 2007) was added to the school campus providing a lecture theatre, IT suite and Sixth Form Centre. The Ferguson Lectures were launched at the same time. These focus on contemporary issues and are open to the public.

Facilities for hockey and tennis were extended in 2008, with the construction of a second astroturf and, a year later, a new Art Centre for the Senior School was opened.

Since 2009 the College has hosted an annual week-long Festival of Literature, which is open to the public and attracts top writers and personalities.

The latest major development project, which opened in Autumn 2013, saw the rebuild of approximately one third of the Prep School to provide enhanced and extended accommodation, including a new library. The Dawson building was officially named and opened on 20 September 2014 after John and Joy Dawson by David Defoe who was The Master of the Junior School (now known as the Prep School) from 1982-1999. Having joined the school in 1948, John Dawson was Headmaster of the Junior School (1971-1982). Joy joined the school as a nurse in 1949 and later married John. They were houseparents of Grimwade 1966—1971 until John became Headmaster.

The school has become one of the top performing independent co-educational schools in the UK and was ranked in 2014 by the Daily Telegraph as one of the top 100 independent schools in the United Kingdom. According to the Good Schools Guide, "academic results have soared in recent years .... Head attributes this to the arrival of girls when the college went fully co-ed in 1995 – not only did they bring self-motivation but they raised the academic bar. A concerted effort to improve results through academic rigour, targeting and ‘working smarter’ has paid off – now among top 20 UK co-ed independent schools."

On the 29th September 2015, a fire broke out in Robert Pearce House and destroyed the 92 years old building. All pupils were evacuated safely. Boarders were re-accommodated to School House soon after the fire. The temporary Robert Pearce House was finished in February 2016 located near the sports hall.

In January 2016 the college made a notable contribution to educating refugee children. This was done by donating text books to Edlumino, an organisation working to educate children in the refugee camps at Grande-Synthe and Calais.[3]

Notable Old Stortfordians[edit]

Notable teachers have included


  1. ^ "College Profile". Introduction. Bishop's Stortford College. Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2007. 
  2. ^ Crowe, Richard (Winter 1977). "Editorial". The Stortfordian. No. 271. Bishop's Stortford College. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  3. ^ "The College donates books to Edlumino Education Aid". Bishop Stortford College. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°52′12″N 00°09′07″E / 51.87000°N 0.15194°E / 51.87000; 0.15194