Brentwood School, Essex

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Brentwood School
Brentwood School Front (Large).jpg
Brentwood School, Essex, main logo.jpg

Virtue, learning and manners

Latin: Incipe
"Make a good start"
Established 1558 (founded 1557)
Type Independent day and boarding
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Ian Davies
Second Master David Taylor
Chairman of Governors Colin Finch
Founder Antony Browne, granted by Queen Mary
Location Middleton Hall Lane
CM15 8EE
Staff 114 full time, 23 part time
Students 1,121
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3–18
Houses      North
         Mill Hill (Female Boarders)
         Hough (Male Boarders)
Colours      Brentwood blue
Publication The Brentwoodian (student produced); Brentwood School Times; The Chronicle of the Society of Old Brentwoods
Campus size 72 acre
School Years Preparatory - Sixth Form
Contact No 01277 243243
Website Brentwood School

Brentwood School is a coeducational independent day and boarding school in Brentwood, Essex, England. The school comprises a Preparatory School, Senior School and Sixth Form, as well as boarding provision for both boys and girls. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

Founded in 1557 and established in 1558, the school has a Tudor schoolroom, a Victorian chapel and several Grade II listed buildings. Situated on Ingrave Road, astride Middleton Hall Lane and Shenfield Road, the school is set in over 72 acres of land in the centre of Brentwood.[1]


16th - 18th Century[edit]

Brentwood School and the Martyr's Elm, 1847

The licence to found the school, as "The Grammar School of Antony Browne, Serjeant at the Law, in Brentwood" was granted by Queen Mary to Sir Antony Browne on 5 July 1558, and the first Schoolmaster, George Otway, was appointed on 28 July 1558.

In 1568 the school moved to a purpose built school room, which still remains, the commemoration stone of which was laid by Browne's stepdaughter Dorothy Huddleston, and her husband Edward, Browne having died in 1567.[2]

The school room was next to the site where nineteen-year-old William Hunter was burned to death for refusing to accept the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The Martyr's Elm grew on the spot of his incineration.

Browne had sentenced Hunter when Justice of the Peace for the area under Queen Mary and, although she also issued the licence, some mistakenly believe the school was founded as penance for Hunter's martyrdom when Queen Elizabeth I came to the throne.

Although Browne drew up the school statutes, these were never legally adopted, so were re-drawn by his descendants and John Donne, Dean of St Paul's, in 1622.[2]

19th Century[edit]

Brentwood School Combined Cadet Force (CCF) was founded in 1861 and as such it is one of the earliest CCFs in the country.[3]

20th Century[edit]

During the First World War sixty Old Brentwoods were killed and during the Second World War one hundred and seventy-three were killed. Their names are listed in the School Chapel and commemorated by the Memorial Hall for the First War and the pavilion for the Second War.

In the 1960s and early 1970s the school was a direct grant grammar school, until the abolition of the scheme in the mid-1970s.

Originally a boys' school, in 1974, the Governors made the decision to allow a small number of girls to enter the Sixth form. 1974 saw the first girl, Lesley Hall, join Brentwood School as a full-time pupil in the Sixth Form and by the early 1980s there were 23 girls in the School's Sixth Form. Initially in Newnum House, the Girls' School opened in 1988, admitting girls from ages 11 to 18, with the Preparatory School following suit ten years later in 1998.

The FoBS (Friends of Brentwood School) was founded in 1982 to help raise funds within the school, mainly via large events and excursions for pupils.

21st Century[edit]

In 2007, Brentwood School celebrated its 450th anniversary in St Paul's Cathedral with a special commemorative service.

The School's Combined Cadet Force (CCF) celebrated its 150th anniversary on 8 October 2011 by holding a special afternoon of events featuring a Guard of Honour by Lt General Brown CBE. The Royal British Legion Youth Band of Brentwood played at the start and end of the afternoon.[4]

In 2013, the school celebrated its best ever International Baccalaureate results with an average point score of 36 - 38% of students distinguishing themselves by achieving more than 40 points. The School achieved another 100% pass rate for all Upper Sixth A Level students and saw 52% of top scorers achieve A*-A grades. Twelve-year-old Andrew Ejemai scored an A* grade in his Maths A Level making him the youngest student in the School's history to pass the qualification.[5] Just over 80% of students gained their first choice university place and 65% of those secured a spot at one of the top twenty universities, including the Russell Group. As of April 2014, 11 students of the current cohort are holding offers of places to study at Oxbridge universities.[6]


School Motto[edit]

The school has two mottos: Virtue, learning and manners derived from the school statutes of 1622 and Incipe, a Latin motto (meaning "to begin" or "to start") added in the 19th century. Nowadays, the school promotes Incipe as "make a good start", especially to first year Senior school pupils and throughout the Preparatory School which has a publication named after it. However, it is recognised that Virtue, learning and manners is the official whole school motto.

School Arms[edit]

The Coat of Arms of Brentwood School are derived from those of the founder of the School, Sir Antony Browne and his wife.

As part of the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the School's founding, a special variant of Sir Antony Browne's Coat of Arms was granted by the Honourable Sir George Rothe Bellew, Garter Principal King of Arms and Sir John Dunamace Heaton-Armstrong, Clarenceux King of Arms on 19 July 1957. A red border was added to the Arms to distinguish them as the School's, as opposed to those of Sir Antony Browne.[7]


There are five day houses and two boarding houses. The day houses are named North Town, South Town, East Town, West Town and Weald, together with the two boarding houses, Mill Hill for girls and Hough House for boys; the latter two making up a sixth house, School house. Prior to the mid-1940s the school was entirely boarding, however, as Brentwood grew into the large commuter town that it is today, demand for day education increased and accordingly the number of boarding houses was reduced. It remains one of only a select few schools in the country in which boarding students have their own rooms rather than shared dormitories. The boarding house consists of mainly academic individuals from other countries, namely China, Russia, India and predominantly Germany, who must pass an internal exam to gain entrance.

Competitions in sport, music, drama, debating and various other activities are held on a regular basis between the houses. Each house has its own styled tie, for North the defining colour is yellow, for South it is red, East's is light blue, West's is dark blue, Weald is represented by claret and the male and female boarders of the school have separate ties of maroon with two bordering white stripes and green ties respectively.


Brentwood School each year elects a select group of Sixth Form students to become Praepostors (Praes). These are usually students who are particularly notable at certain academic or sporting subjects, involved in the local community and well-liked. Therefore, it is assumed that they are capable and mature enough to hold a position of prestige.

Obtaining the position Praepostor (Prae) means increased responsibility in the School. Praes are asked to return to school outside of normal school hours to help organise and facilitate events; they are also the main representatives of the student community throughout the whole school. Senior Praes are Praepostors with an even greater level of responsibility and are typically asked to contribute more. They are also expect to delegate work to other Praes and students.

The Head of School is selected by the student who gains the greatest amount of votes among staff.


The school is separated into three main sections: Senior School (ages 11 to 16), Sixth Form (ages 16 to 18) and the Preparatory School (ages 3 to 11). Brentwood now operates in a diamond school format where the preparatory school and sixth form are co-educational while the senior school remains segregated.

Preparatory School[edit]

Brentwood Preparatory School teaches children aged 3–11, from Nursery through to Year 6. Classes are usually small, with an average size of 20 per class made up of mixed genders. The Preparatory follows the National Curriculum, however teaches some supplementary subjects such as French and Latin. There is also a broad extracurricular programme that all pupils are encouraged to follow, featuring Dance, Drama and Music, as well as sports such as Hockey and Golf.[8]

Senior School[edit]

Between the ages of 11 and 16 (up to GCSE level), boys and girls are taught separately. After this, in the Sixth Form, teaching is co-educational.

  • Age range: 11–18
  • Day pupils: 652 male, 442 female
  • Full boarding: 45 male, 27 female
  • Total Pupils: 697 male, 469 female
  • Including 6th form/FE: 179 male, 116 female
  • Staff numbers: 114 full-time, 23 part-time
  • Method of entry: School exam.
  • Professional affiliations: HMC, IAPS, ISC, AGBIS (formerly GBA and GBGSA)
  • Religious affiliation: Church of England

Entrance into the school at Year 7 is by an Entrance Examination, testing students' skills in Maths, English and Verbal Reasoning. Scholarships can be offered to entrants based on six aspects:

  • Academic Merit in the Entrance Examination

Talent in:

  • Music
  • Sport
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Choral

Bursaries are also offered to entrants under special conditions.


The school is notable for its sporting achievements, particularly in football, cricket and fencing. The school has consistently performed well as part of the Independent Schools Football Association (ISFA), winning the national ISFA cup in 2002 and 2010. In 2013 the then U15 team won the Essex Schools FA Cup for the third time in four seasons since U12 level to set a new school record.[9] On that basis, this team is the best school team of their age group in the county. The school has also been historically successful in the prestigious Public Schools Fencing Championships, winning the overall title 34 times since 1962, with the last team victory coming in 2008.

Brentwood School has also held titles in netball, cricket and tennis. In netball, the girls' U13 netball team won the 2013/14 National finals to be crowned National Champions. The school has also seen senior girls' tennis champions.

In recent years, the school has led the field in cricket in the south east. In 2006, they were runners-up in the Bunbury National Cup. This was the first time an Essex team had made it past the quarter finals, and the school won the same competition the following year. The U15s won the national 20/20 competition in 2006, and in 2008 reached the national semi finals. In 2010 the U15s have reached the national 20/20 finals, which are to be played at Arundel. The school currently has former Essex cricketer Brian Hardie as a PE teacher. Geraint Jones will take over in 2015.[10]

A number of improvements in sporting facilities have been made in recent years. These include a 25-metre indoor swimming-pool and learner pool, a fitness suite, 4 additional glass-backed squash courts and an indoor rifle range. The school is set in 72 acres (280,000 m2) of grounds and has two playing-fields, one is situated directly on the school site and another, the Heseltines, adjacent to the school. These contain football, rugby, cricket and hockey pitches, an all-weather Astroturf pitch, tennis and netball courts and an athletics track and field as well as woods used for cross-country runs. In 2013, an additional Astroturf was completed for the Preparatory school.

Many former pupils have gone on to represent Great Britain or a home nation at international tournaments and competitions. Its sporting alumni include Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard, former Millwall and Southend United striker Neil Harris pundit Stewart Robson, former Essex cricketer and International Cricket coach Ian Pont, former Essex cricketer David Acfield and squash players Peter Barker and Daryl Selby.

Drama and Music[edit]

The school hosts various theatrical performances and shows. In one academic year the theatrical line-up usually consists of a winter/spring play/musical, a sixth-form comedy charity show, a dance show alongside various other acts. In 2008 the school featured two Winter theatrical shows; My Fair Lady and Habeas Corpus. Winter Theatricals occur every two years, the most recent being Les Misérables. Every year the school hosts House Music and House Drama competitions, often featuring revered guest adjudicators.

Commensurately, the school boast a rich tradition of notable alumni in the dramatic arts, including comedian Griff Rhys Jones, actor Hal Ozsan, playwright David Eldridge Another former alumnus, Chris Hatt, is currently the Musical Director of the popular English Elton John Musical "Billy Elliot" on the West End.

Brentwood often hosts concerts such as the orchestral concerts and chamber concerts by the school's big band, orchestra, and choir. The school has a strong musical reputation and a close association with the Brentwood (Catholic) and Chelmsford (Church of England) Cathedrals having a number of pupils and staff singing in their choirs. The Brentwood School Music Department has four full-time teaching staff and 20 visiting teachers. Between 2006 and 2008, Brentwood School also featured the largest A-Level Music set in the country. Brentwood was the first school in the country[citation needed] to use Sibelius software in 1996 and ever since has been an integral part of the Music departments GCSE, A-level and IB music courses. A Sibelius suite is available in the schools music department for student and staff use.

The school offers a range of musical opportunities with a Symphony Orchestra, Brass and String Ensembles, a Junior Choir, a Choral Society (known in the school as Christmas Choir) and a Barbershop. Recent choral performances have included: 'Belshazzar's Feast' by Walton, Requiems by Mozart, Verdi and Fauré and 'Gloria' by Poulenc. Brentwood Schools biggest musical achievement has been the Brentwood School Big Band which is now in its 30th year. It often performs concerts for charity outside of school and European tours occur every 1 or 2 years, one trip being to Salzburg, Austria in the Summer of 2013.[11] The Big Band has released a number of Albums the most recent in 2013 called "Music to Drive By". In 2008, the year of Brentwood School's 450th Anniversary, the school took part in a service in St Paul's Cathedral, in which the Choir performed various English Choral works. In the same year, a cantata "The Old Red Wall" composed by the former Director of Music, David Pickthall, was premiered at the Brentwood School 450th Anniversary Festival at the Brentwood Centre. The cantata was based on the School Song "The Old Red Wall" and featured new text by David Dunn.

The Director of Music at Brentwood School until 2014 was David Pickthall, a conductor, organist, pianist and composer. One of his accomplishments was his involvement in Wallace & Gromit's The Wrong Trousers. He also provided additional music for the 1995 James Bond film: GoldenEye[citation needed] and has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra for the recording of an album of orchestral arrangements of INXS songs.[citation needed] He was the original founder of Brentwood School Big Band and has taken it abroad to Siena, Italy, Salzburg, Austria and Bavaria, Germany. Pickthall was an organ scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge and is a member of the Royal College of Organists. The current Director of music is Hilary Khoo.

Model United Nations[edit]

Brentwood hosts an annual Model United Nations (BMUN) conference[12] in November or December each year, with the first being held in 2013.[13] In the past it has been a one-day conference, however in 2015 it will last for two days (5 and 6 December).[14] Students from schools across the south east attend, and it has a capacity of approximately 200 students.

Sir Antony Browne Society (SABS)[edit]

SABS is a society of Brentwood School students that focuses on furthering the education of Sixth Formers through a series of prominent guest speakers and debates (Junior SABS is also available for the younger years). Regular meetings are held in the oldest part of the school, called Old Big School, at which students are able to experience lectures on societal issues or interesting topics to do with science, the arts and sport or a members' debate. Old Brentwoods such as Jack Straw and Griff Rhys Jones are frequent speakers. Other speakers have been political figures, such as George Galloway[15] and Vicky Pryce,[16] and the philosopher A C Grayling.[17]

Royal Visits and connections[edit]

The license to found the school, as "The Grammar School of Antony Browne, Serjeant at the Law, in Brentwood" was granted by Queen Mary to Sir Antony Browne on 5 July 1558,.

Brentwood school continues to play host to Royal visitors. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited the School in 1957 to open the new Science department,[18] now named, The Queens Building. On the first Saturday of Trinity Term, 1957 the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Col. Sir Francis Whitmore, laid the foundation stone of this new Science department.[19]

More recently, HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex has been welcomed to the school twice since the millennium. In 2011 he was invited as Guest of Honor to the opening ceremony of the new Sixth Form Centre and the naming of the Wessex Auditorium.[20] The Earl also attended an inspection of the Combined Cadet Force Guard of Honour.

In November 2012 HRH Anne, Princess Royal visited the School, using of the School’s First XI cricket square as an impromptu helipad. Headmaster Mr Davies assured her the School did not worry too much about the grass at this time of the year.[21]

RIBA Award[edit]

In 2012, Brentwood School's Sixth Form Centre was winner of the Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA) East England Award. The institute described the development as having drawn "inspiration from the existing Victorian vicarage" and that "the new design is expressed in a language that is both contextual and contemporary. The sculpting of the roofs creates non-standard, domestic-scaled classrooms filled with natural light, reminiscent of the gabled roofs of the Victorian vicarage, but with an added measure of playfulness."[22]

Sexual abuse allegations[edit]

In 1997 Gareth Stafford-Bull, who taught fencing at the school (and was also an under-20s coach for the England fencing team), went missing and was sacked by the school in his absence following allegations that he had indecently assaulted pupils.[23] The 41-year-old was later found dead in his car at Brighton.[24]

2015 Coach Crash[edit]

On 28 June 2015 a coach carrying 34 first and second year pupils as well as six teachers to Cologne crashed into the supporting pillar of a motorway bridge near Ostend in Belgium. The driver, James Chance, was killed in the accident (although he was not driving at the time) while his assistant, who was at the wheel, sustained major injuries. All pupils walked off the coach, around fifteen of whom had injuries. One boy was in intensive care overnight after fracturing his skull and having a small brain bleed, while another fractured his leg. Two of the teachers also had broken bones.[25][26]


The official alumni logo for the Old Brentwoods community

Brentwood School Alumni are known as Old Brentwoods.

Old Brentwoods are former pupils and students who have attended the School (Preparatory, Senior School and Sixth Form). This is true to any pupil who has attended Brentwood School for any amount of time, as leavers may not necessarily be departing after Sixth Form, at the end of the Fifth Form in the Senior School or at the end of Year 6 in the Preparatory.

The logo that is used to represent Old Brentwoods and the Society of Old Brentwoods is the wing and claw, derived from the Coat of Arms of Sir Antony Browne. The wing is taken from the top of the crest and the eagle from the Coat of Arms’ shield; the claw is also derived from the shield. The crown was added to the logo in 1957 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Brentwood School.[27]

The colours of Old Brentwoods are dark blue, light blue and gold. Light blue and dark blue were traditionally featured as stripes on the blazers of Old Brentwoods and are still used today to represent the alumni community. The colours were carried across to the alumni logo, with the addition of gold upon the inclusion of the crown in 1957.

Notable Old Brentwoods[edit]

Also see the school's own list of Old Brentwoods at [28]


  1. ^ Brentwood Borough Council Web Team. "Brentwood Borough Council". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  2. ^ a b "Historical Notes" from "Brentwood School, School Lists" (AKA The Blue Book)
  3. ^ "Combined Cadet Force". 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  4. ^ "CCF 150th Anniversary at Brentwood School". 2011-10-17. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  5. ^ NevWilson (2013-08-15). "12 year old Brentwood maths whizz gains A* A level". Brentwood Gazette. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  6. ^ "Students celebrate early offers to top universities including 11 offers from Oxford and Cambridge". 2014-01-10. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  7. ^ Christe-Murray, David. The Arms of Brentwood School. Middlesex; Hubners Ltd.
  8. ^ "Preparatory School". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  9. ^ "Brentwood School footballers lift U15 Essex Cup". 2013-05-03. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  10. ^ "Staff Qualifications". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Outspoken MP revisits Brentwood School". 2013-01-21. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  16. ^ "Economist Vicky Pryce speaks at SABS". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  17. ^ "Famous English Philosopher, Dr Anthony Grayling, lectures at Brentwood School". 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  18. ^ "Reunion Evening for 1957 Leavers". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  19. ^ [2][dead link]
  20. ^ "Archive | Homepage - Echo". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  21. ^ [3][dead link]
  22. ^ "Brentwood School Sixth Form Centre & Assembly Hall". 2012-05-29. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  23. ^ ""Fencing Tutor in Abuse Inquiry Is Fired" - The Mail on Sunday (London, England), May 4, 1997 | Questia, Your Online Research Library". 1997-05-04. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  24. ^ "Suspect dies; News in brief.(Home news) - Version details - Trove". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "School History". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  28. ^ "Famous OBs". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ Dunlop PSA World Rankings
  31. ^ Dodd, Philip (12 May 2007). "Obituary of Philip Collins". The Independent (London). Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  32. ^ [4] Brentwood School Records
  33. ^ "Brentwood School Sports Centre News 11 October 2010". Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  34. ^ Betts, Graham (2006). England: Player by player. Green Umbrella Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-905009-63-1. 
  35. ^ "Brentwood School - Music". Brentwood School. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  36. ^ "F1 World Council". Grand Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  37. ^ Air Museum copy of letter retrieved 4 February 2009
  38. ^ Peter Ruff (31 July 2006). "Obituary : Bob Simpson". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  39. ^ "Obituary of Sir Denis Wright". The Telegraph (London). 21 May 2005. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  40. ^ [5]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°37′13″N 0°18′25″E / 51.62028°N 0.30694°E / 51.62028; 0.30694