Eastbourne College

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Eastbourne College
Eastbourne college crest.jpg
Motto Ex Oriente Salus
("The haven [the bourne] from the East")
Established 1867
Type Independent day and boarding
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Tom Lawson
Chairman of the College Council General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue KCB CBE [1]
Founders 7th Duke of Devonshire and other prominent Eastbourne citizens
Location Old Wish Road
East Sussex
BN21 4JY
Coordinates: 50°45′46″N 0°16′52″E / 50.7627°N 0.2811°E / 50.7627; 0.2811
Local authority East Sussex County Council
DfE number 845/6014
DfE URN 114650 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Staff 236~
Students 630~
Gender Co-educational
Ages 13–18
Houses 6 day, 5 boarding
Former pupils Old Eastbournians
Website www.eastbourne-college.co.uk

Eastbourne College is a British co-educational independent school for day and boarding pupils aged 13–18, situated in the town of Eastbourne on the south coast of England, included in the Tatler list of top public schools.[citation needed] The College's current headmaster is Tom Lawson.


The College was founded by the Duke of Devonshire and other prominent Eastbourne citizens in 1867 and has been growing ever since.[citation needed]

The College is located in the Lower Meads area of Eastbourne, in a mainly residential area. Most of the school buildings are on a central campus area but many others are scattered in the immediate vicinity, such as the Beresford hockey and the links rugby pitches.

The motto, Ex Oriente Salus, is a play on "Eastbourne", meaning "The haven[the bourne]from the East". Salus also means health.


Dr Charles Hayman, an Eastbourne medical practitioner and member of the town's first Council, together with other prominent local citizens, decided that an independent school 'for the education of the sons of noblemen and gentlefolk'[citation needed] should be established and the support of the 7th Duke of Devonshire was sought. The Duke was supportive of the venture and provided 12 acres (4.9 ha) of land for purchase at a modest price. This link with the Cavendish family is evidenced by the stag in the school emblem.

The school opened with three staff and 14 pupils.[citation needed] From 1867 to 1869 it occupied Ellesmere Villa, now called Spencer Court; the location is now marked by a blue plaque. Architect Henry Currey was assigned by the Duke to design a new school building, and College House, now School House, was built in 1870. The school chapel was constructed that same year.

During the 1880s, the school went through an impoverished period. Through the intervention of George Wallis, first mayor of Eastbourne and the tireless work of new headmaster Rev Dr Charles Crowden, formerly of Cranbrook School, the school was saved from financial disaster.[2]

In 1967 Eastbourne College celebrated its centenary. Ex Oriente Salus - A Centenary History of Eastbourne College was published for the occasion and consists of a compilation by Vincent Mulcaster Allom, who spent over 30 years teaching at the school, of old photographs, news articles and illustrations of the school.

The college admitted its first girls in 1969 when the sixth form became coeducational, becoming one of the first HMC schools to admit girls. It is now fully coeducational.

Recent developments[edit]

In 2005 the school was one of fifty of the country's leading private schools which were found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel, exposed by The Times, that had allowed them to drive up fees for thousands of parents.[3] Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £10,000 and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling three million pounds into a trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period in respect of which fee information was shared.[4]


Front view of the Wargrave House
Boarding Houses
  • Gonville (Boys)
  • Nugent (Girls)
  • Pennell (Boys)
  • School (Girls)
  • Wargrave (Boys)
Day Houses
  • Arnold (Girls)
  • Blackwater (Girls)
  • Craig (Boys)
  • Powell (Boys)
  • Reeves (Boys)
  • Watt (Girls)

Many of these houses were donated to the school in wills and named after their benefactors; for example, Powell was given to the college by Stanley Powell.

Eastbourne College in 2008


In the 2011 GCSEs 100% of candidates achieved A*-C. It was the school's eight consecutive year in which 60% or more of pupils scored A*-A grades.[5][6] In 2008 pupils achieved a 100% pass rate in the A Levels with 77% receiving A-B grades.[7]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Combined Cadet Force[edit]

The school's CCF corps was founded in 1896.[2] Pupils in Year 10 and above are welcome to join. The CCF has Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force sections for the pupils to choose from.


Sport is played at the many facilities around the college (including College Field which has been used for training by teams such as South Africa upon arrival in the UK and some internationals) and at various locations around the town acquired by the college. Former pupils who have achieved sporting success include rugby players Hugo Southwell (Scotland and London Wasps) and Mark Lock (Leeds Tykes) and cricket player Ed Giddins.

Each term at the college has a single primary sport:

Term Boys Girls
Michaelmas Rugby union Hockey
Lent Hockey Netball
Summer Cricket Tennis

There are also alternative sports, including football, cross country, swimming, golf, tennis, squash, rowing, sailing, rugby fives, Fives and rounders. The school owns a boat house nearby the campus.[8]


The Chapel is within the 'central' tradition of the Church of England, and the College has a full-time Chaplain. Assembly takes place there on Mondays and Wednesdays. There are Sunday services throughout term time, and at the beginning and end of each term there is a whole school service in All Saints' Church, immediately adjacent to the school. There is a student-led College Christian Union which is attended by students of various Christian traditions. There is also a Bible study group (The Connection) led by two members of staff which meets weekly throughout the year.

Every year a confirmation service is held in the Chapel. The Chaplain prepares candidates for confirmation in the months preceding this service and this includes an awayday at Ashburnham Place.

Links with Radley College[edit]

The Second World War saw the evacuation of Eastbourne College to Radley College, and the plaque with its generous inscription commemorating this move and referring to "sympathy... and easy comradeship" has long been a significant feature of the Radley's Chapel Cloister. The Warden at the time, J C Vaughan Wilkes, was a son of the proprietors of St Cyprian's prep school with which Eastbourne College long had close connections. After the war, the College acquired St Cyprian's playing fields and the Memorial Gates were installed at the entrance.

At the turn of the millennium the Arnold Embellishers, a society of friends of Eastbourne College, decided that there should be a similar memorial in Eastbourne itself, and on Sunday 23 June 2002, in a short ceremony introduced by Eastbourne's Headmaster, Charles Bush and Angus McPhail unveiled a plaque in their own Cloisters. The inscription reads "In memory of those who made it possible to survive the Second World War by taking us to Radley College and, when peace returned, bringing us safely home, under the leadership of the Headmaster Francis John Nugee MA". Many of the headmasters of Eastbourne College were Radley boys.

In celebration of the occasion, the Radley v Eastbourne cricket match was revived.

Birley Centre[edit]

The college announced plans to build a contemporary performing arts centre situated next to the Towner Gallery and close to the Congress and Devonshire Park Theatre. The Birley Centre is intended to provide the school with a state-of-the-art facility complete with recording studio and offering a versatile space for performing arts activities including concerts, plays, dance, masterclasses and workshops. It will also have space to host exhibitions and conferences.

Named after Michael Birley, former Headmaster of Eastbourne College (1956-1970), the centre will include:

  • an acoustically designed auditorium with sprung floor
  • a fully equipped recording studio with separate control and
  • percussion rooms and vocal booth
  • two music technology suites
  • specialised teaching and rehearsal rooms
  • a gallery and exhibition area
  • a large foyer with catering facilities
  • a bar and catering facilities for events


On 17 October 2011 Gus Christie, chairman of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, opened the centre.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

The Southern Railway made great use of steam locomotive names for publicity, and the carrying of pupils to boarding schools at the beginning and end of school terms was a significant traffic flow.[11] Locomotives of the 'V' or "Schools" Class, introduced in 1930, were hence named after prominent English public schools. The fifteenth locomotive, no. 914, was named Eastbourne after the college. Built at Eastleigh in October 1932, no. 914 remained in service until withdrawn by British Railways in July 1961.[12]

In April 2012, Eastbourne College was one of the sites in which King of Soho, set in the 1950s and features Steve Coogan and Anna Friel, was filmed at. The film is to be released in autumn 2012.[13]

In Evelyn Waugh's Novel 'Decline and Fall' it is often suggested that the protagonist, Paul Pennyfeather, attended the College.

Notable former pupils and staff[edit]

Former pupils[edit]

Former pupils are known as "Old Eastbournians" and are members of the Old Eastbournian Association.


Victoria Cross holders[edit]

Two Old Eastbournians have won the Victoria Cross:[17]

Military Cross holders[edit]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ http://www.eastbourne-college.co.uk/Board-of-Governors
  2. ^ a b College Timeline
  3. ^ Halpin, Tony (10 November 2005). "Independent schools face huge fines over cartel to fix fees". The Times. London. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. 
  4. ^ "OFT names further trustees as part of the independent schools settlement" (Press release). Office of Fair Trading. 21 December 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-06-10. 
  5. ^ "Eastbourne students celebrate GCSE results". Eastbourne Herald. 26 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Excellent GCSE results at Eastbourne College". Hastings Observer. 23 August 2007. 
  7. ^ "Students celebrate A-level results". Eastbourne Herald. 14 August 2008. 
  8. ^ "Eastbourne College BC". British Rowing. 
  9. ^ Birley Centre
  10. ^ "Birley Centre cements college links with town". Eastbourne Herald. 17 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Maunsell V 'Schools' class 4-4-0". Southern E-Group. 19 June 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2009. 
  12. ^ "Maunsell V 'Schools' class 4-4-0 - Data". Southern E-Group. 10 February 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2009. 
  13. ^ "Steve Coogan and Anna Friel film in Eastbourne". Eastbourne Herald. 27 April 2012. 
  14. ^ "Adam Mynott". BBC News. 12 July 2004. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  15. ^ "Player profile: John Young". CricketArchive. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  16. ^ Roland Beamont#cite note-0
  17. ^ Webster F.A.M., (1937), Our Great Public Schools, (Butler & Tanner: London)


External links[edit]