Claremont Fan Court School

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Coordinates: 51°21′29″N 0°22′16″W / 51.358°N 0.371°W / 51.358; -0.371

Claremont Fan Court School
CFCS School Crest.png
Motto Be Strong in Understanding
Established 1922 (Claremont School) 1934 (Fan Court School) 1978 (CFCS)
Type Independent School
Headmaster William Brierly
Head of Preparatory School Helen Hutton-Attenborough
Head of Pre-Preparatory and Nursery School Michael Williams
Location Claremont Drive
KT10 9LY
Students 700
Gender Co-educational
Ages 2½–18
Houses Esher, Longcross, Norwood, Radnor
Chair of Governors Mr G Hunt
Twitter @CFCSchool
Instagram @claremontfancourt
Website Official site

Claremont Fan Court School is a co-educational independent school, for pupils from 2½ to 18 years. Situated outside Esher, in Surrey, sixteen miles from London, it is set in the historic grounds of the Claremont Estate. It is a member of the Society of Heads,[1] the Independent Schools Council (ISC)[2] and the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS).[3]


Claremont Estate (1708-1919)[edit]

The first house to be built on the Claremont Estate was Vanbrugh House in 1708 by Sir John Vanbrugh.[4]:7 In 1714 it was bought by the Earl of Clare (from which the name Claremont is derived)[4]:8 who later became the Duke of Newcastle. Many notable residents have lived on the estate since, including: Lord Clive of India,[4]:13 Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold,[4]:20 Princess (later Queen) Victoria, King Louis Philippe and Queen Marie-Amélie,[4]:44 and the Duke and Duchess of Albany.[4]:52 The grounds too have been sculpted by several notable architects, including Vanbrugh, Capability Brown and William Kent.[5] Throughout this period many changes were made to the buildings and grounds of the estate.

Claremont School (1922-1978)[edit]

In 1922, a school for girls began at Mrs Packers’ house (who later became the first principal of Claremont School).[4]:61 After moving to Clear View in Norwood in 1923 due to an expansion in pupil numbers the school moved again to Claremont in 1931 after acquiring 33 acres of the Claremont estate.[4]:61 By 1936 it was at full capacity with 85 pupils.[4]:61

During the Second World War, the school was evacuated to Llandrindod Wells in Wales, and Claremont was let to the Hawker Aircraft company, whose design team under the aeronautical engineer Sydney Camm produced the Hawker Tempest fighter.[6]

In 1946 the school returned to the Claremont Estate, purchasing White Cottage in 1949. By 1955 the stables had been converted to a junior school, thus allowing pupils to number 200, with half of these as boarders. By 1970 a new gymnasium, art rooms, dining room, kitchens and music block had been built.[4]:64–65

Fan Court School (1932-1978)[edit]

In 1932 a preparatory school for boys was founded at a small house called The Lodge in Banstead, Surrey.[7]:4 The school briefly moved to Warren House before again moving to Fan Court, Chertsey in 1934, when it also received its formal constitution[7]:9 and was admitted to the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools.[7]:16

In its early years, only five pupils attended, hailing from South Africa, USA and England.[7]:12–13 This rose to 56 prior to the outbreak of World War II and up to 85 by 1956.[7]:18, 35 The school magazine was called Vox Leonis (named after the lion on the school crest).[7]:15 The Old Boys’ Club and Friends of Fan Court were established in 1936 and 1947 respectively.[7]:27 A summer garden party called Fan Court Day was held annually to celebrate the school’s community and included entertainments, exhibitions and speeches.[7]:16

During World War II the possibility of evacuating the school to Canada or the Bahamas was considered, however never occurred.[7]:20–21 The School planted a tree to mark the end of the war in 1945.[7]:25

In 1967 a junior school for boys and girls was opened at Fan Court. Girls were able to stay at Fan Court until the age of 10 when they became eligible for entrance into Claremont School.[7]:53 This further strengthened the connection between the two schools that had existed since Fan Court had been established. Other demonstrations of this link include: Claremont’s financial support in 1955 for the construction of Fan Court’s swimming pool,[7]:34 alternate-year joint parties beginning in 1964,[7]:51 a joint carol service in 1967[7]:54 and joint meetings from 1967 onwards by committees and Friends of the schools.[7]:54

Claremont Fan Court School (1978-present)[edit]

In 1978, Claremont School and Fan Court School amalgamated on the site of Claremont School to become a co-educational school for pupils from 2½ to 18 years.[4]:66 During the 1980s the Joyce Grenfell Centre was built (named after the former Claremont School pupil) housing a music school, theatre, computer suite and design and technology classrooms.[4]:66 A new junior school and principal’s house (called Clearview after the former location of Claremont School) were also built. During the 1990s White Cottage became the Sixth Form centre and a new sports hall was built.[4]:61

Notable events[edit]

  • 1972 – Claremont School celebrated its Golden Jubilee with the construction of a new science facility.[4]:66
  • 1979 (August) – HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited the Mansion after an opening ceremony at the Claremont Landscape Gardens.[4]:66
  • 1996 – After repairs, the Belvedere was opened to the public for the first time to celebrate the centenary of the National Trust.[4]:66

School life[edit]


On entering the school pupils join one of the following four houses:

  • Longcross (yellow) - named after the previous location of Fan Court School; the crest features the Longcross lion[7]:9
  • Norwood (blue) - named after the previous location of Claremont School; the crest features the Claremont torch[4]:61
  • Radnor (red) - named after the county in Wales in which Claremont School was evacuated to during WWII; the crest features the Welsh dragon[4]:63–64
  • Esher (green) - named after the current location of Claremont Fan Court School; the crest features a crown for Esher’s past royal associations[8]

Various school interhouse activities take place throughout the year in addition to the House point system and sports day. These have included competitions in: singing,[9] film creation, drawing, recycled fashion, engineering and cooking.[10]

Since 1933, Fan Court School has used a house system, starting with three houses (Cayley, Lings and Macgregor) followed by the addition of a fourth by 1936 (Cazalet). Cayley and Cazalet were named after benefactors of the school.[7]:5–6, 18, 22 Claremont School introduced its house system in 1928 with four houses (Normans, Saxons, Tudors and Stuarts).[4]:10



In the Autumn and Spring terms girls play lacrosse and netball, and in the Summer term they play rounders and athletics.


In the Autumn and Spring terms boys play rugby union and football, and in the Summer term they play cricket and athletics.

Motto, crest and song[edit]

The motto, crest and song are all derived from those of Claremont Fan Court’s predecessor schools:

  • The school motto is “Be Strong in Understanding” which recognises Fan Court School’s original motto "Be Strong".[7]:5
  • The school crest combines a lion and torch. This references the original crests with the torch from Claremont School and the lion from Fan Court School.[7]:4–5
  • The School song is titled “Nisi Dominus Frustra” which was the original motto of Claremont School.[4]:65 The words are by Phyllis M. Cooper and the music by Fenella Farrar (Bennetts).[11]

Christian Science[edit]

The school was founded by Christian Scientists, although it has no formal connection with the Christian Science Church.[12] The 2007 Independent Schools Inspectorate Report details the School as Christian Science,[13] however the 2011 Independent Schools Inspectorate Interim Report only states that the school was founded by Christian Scientists.[14] The financial accounts for the year ending 31 July 2013[15] filed with the Charity Commission for England and Wales states that all members of the Foundation Council, from whom the Trustees and Governors are selected, must be practising Christian Scientists, and that senior staff are expected to have strong affinity with and understanding of Christian Science.

Pupils only receive religious education following the National Curriculum which encompasses studying a variety of religions and cultures.[16] Pupils also have the opportunity to develop their understanding further, such as by visiting a mosque[17] and holding a Japanese traditional culture day.[18] There is no religious building on site nor does it employ a chaplain.[19] A carol service, concert and nativity production often occur at Christmas.[20]


In October 2017, Claremont Fan Court School launched the online alumni network

Notable pupils[edit]

Notable staff[edit]

  • Debra Searle (1975), adventurer, television presenter, and author

National Trust[edit]

The National Trust acquired 50 acres (200,000 m2) of the Claremont estate in 1949. In 1975, with a grant from the Slater Foundation, it set about restoring the eighteenth-century landscape garden. Claremont Landscape Garden displays the successive contributions of the landscape gardeners who worked on it: Sir John Vanbrugh, Charles Bridgman, William Kent and Capability Brown.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Society of Heads Member Schools". Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Claremont Fan Court School". Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Why Choose an IAPS School?". The Independent Association of Prep Schools. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Cooper, Phyllis M. (2000). The Story of Claremont (Ninth ed.). 
  5. ^ a b Turner, Roger (1999). Capability Brown and the Eighteenth Century English Landscape (2 ed.). Chichester: Phillimore. pp. 115–119. 
  6. ^ "A Brief History of Esher". 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Butler, J.R.M. Fan Court School, 1932-1968. West Brothers. 
  8. ^ Stevens, Ian D. The Story of Esher. p. 73. 
  9. ^ "House Day Results Autumn 2013". Claremont Fan Court School. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "House Report Autumn 2013". Claremont Fan Court School. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  11. ^ . Print number 14097.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Foundation, Mission and Ethos". Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  13. ^ "Inspection Report, Governance Subsection". ISI Report 2007 section 4.1. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Interim Inspection Report, 2011". Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "Audited Accounts for the year ending 31 July 2013" (PDF). Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "Religious Education and Philosophy Department". Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "Visit to Mosque". Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "Japanese Culture Day". Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "Staff List". Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  20. ^ "Carol Service 2013". Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Angela Wintle, Michaela Strachan on wildlife, Springwatch and her Surrey roots dated 18 March 2013 at, accessed 18 September 2013
  22. ^ ‘McIntyre, Anthea Elizabeth Joy’, in Who's Who 2013 (London: A. & C. Black, 2013)

External links[edit]