Parsons Mead School
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|Parsons Mead School|
|Type||Independent, girls, day and boarding|
|Motto||Success Through Excellence|
|Affiliation||Church of England|
|Closed||July 7, 2006|
Parsons Mead School was a private girls school founded by Jessie Elliston in Ashtead, Surrey, England.
Former governess Jessie Elliston (1858–1942) established a school in 1897 to prepare the daughters of gentlemen for home life. The school quickly outgrew its accommodations in Woodfield Lane and moved to a site in Ottways Lane in 1904, taking the name Parsons Mead from the new location's history as a meadow owned by the local clergy.
As the school grew, the 1850s school house was extended and new buildings added. The school's focus changed from offering domestic and art courses to the full range of subjects including science and maths. In 1957, the school ceased to be privately owned and was made an educational trust.
In July 2005, all but two of the Parson's Mead Educational Trust resigned and were replaced by directors of the Vernon Educational Trust (operators of Danes Hill School in Oxshott), a change that was later said to be part of a rescue plan, with the alternative being to sell the school to a private firm. The rescue plan was not successful and Parsons Mead closed on July 7, 2006, a month after the announcement of its closure. The school's new trustees said they were unable to keep Parsons Mead going after the number of pupils fell below the break-even point.
Parents asked the Charity Commission to begin an inquiry in June 2006, accusing the trust of running down Parsons Mead so that its assets could be used for another school. The accusation was denied by a spokesperson for the Parsons Mead Educational Trust. The Charity Commission issued a response on 17 November 2006, stating "There do not appear to be any issues that merit the opening of an Inquiry or further investigation".
The Chairwoman of Parsons Mead Trust was former Conservative education minister Dame Angela Rumbold, who said that the remaining assets would be put in a trust to provide financial help to local families seeking independent education for their children.
The Vernon Educational Trust and the Parsons Mead Educational Trust were formally merged in August 2006. The Vernon Educational Trust therefore took ownership of the Parson's Mead School site, along with £2.2 million in liabilities.
Photographs of the abandoned school were posted to the internet in June 2007.
The Vernon Educational Trust sold the site to Oracle Homes Residential Ltd in August 2007 for £16 million under section 36 of the Charities Act. There was press speculation over whether Danes Hill School would benefit from the sale.
Demolition of Parsons Mead School commenced in September 2009 - the site had been sold on from Oracle Homes to Bewley Homes. The site appears to be being demolished in reverse historial order with the gym and the junior school going first.
Jessie Elliston was born in 1858 in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. The family moved to Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, where she grew up. After her mother died, her father remarried, she decided she would have to make her own way in life. She became a governess and worked for many wealthy families, including the Bonham-Carters, teaching the children until they were ready for boarding school. She finally moved to Leatherhead Vicarage, where she came on the recommendation of Mrs Bonham Carter who was related to Mrs Utterton. When the Utterton children no longer needed a governess, it was Canon Utterton who suggested a change of course by starting her own school. There was a lot of scope in the area. There was already a small private school in Leatherhead but Ashtead was a possibility as at the end of the 19th century the village had only two schools. These were the Church of England Primary School of St Giles and the boys' preparatory school, Downsend. Girls from affluent families were often educated privately at home, so there was room for a girls school. In 1897, Jessie Elliston was a woman in her late 30s who had to battle continually against deafness. She had little money. However, she had her years of experience with children, great determination and the support of family and friends who believed in her abilities.
Miss Elliston started her school in Ashtead. She had started the venture with an aunt, one of her fathers sisters but the partnership was unsuccessful, Miss Eleanora Ellison left one night, unbeknown to Miss Elliston, having taken all the capital, about £200, out of the bank, leaving Miss Elliston penniless. Parents and friends came to the rescue with some financial support.
In 1901 Miss Elliston had to find larger premises, she moved the school to a house called Claverton (the house is now demolished and retirement flats are now on the land but the estate is still called Claverton) which was by the cricket field on Woodfeild Lane, Ashtead. By 1904 the numbers of pupils had grown so much that Miss Elliston had to look for bigger and more permanent premises.
Miss Elliston rented Parsons Mead. Parsons Mead a large and highly attractive house built in the 1860s. Miss Elliston had a choice of properties but she wanted Parsons Mead because she thought it would suit her best of the properties that she had seen.
Notable former pupils
- Teresa Banham, actress
- Stella Cunliffe, first female President of the Royal Statistical Society (1975–7)
- Joan Hassall, artist
- Lucy Schwob (Claude Cahun), surrealist photographer and writer
- Helen Woods (Anna Kavan), writer
- Eteach: Parsons Mead School
- "PARSONS MEAD EDUCATIONAL TRUST LIMITED". OpenCorporates.com. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "School trust denies asset stripping". Get Surrey. 22 June 2006. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "Anger as school puts up shutters". Surrey Advertiser, 14 July 2006.
- Smith, Alexandra (22 June 2006). "News Education Schools Trust 'deliberately ran down private school'". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- Halpin, Tony (2006-06-22). "'Asset-stripping' forced private school to close". The Times: 20.
- Taylor, R. "Rumbold of the Bailey?". The Assignment Report. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "Decision Notice Reference:FS50184898". Freedom of Information Act 2000 (Section 50). Information Commissioner's Office. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "The Register of Mergers". Charity Commission Website. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- R, Mark. "Parsons Mead School, Ashtead, Surrey - 15-06-07". 28 Days Later. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- "Parents will seek compensation for school closure". Get Surrey. 22 Aug 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "Prep school could profit from sale of site". Get Surrey. 7 Aug 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "Day in the Life: Elizabeth Plant". Ashtead at, Christmas 1996.
- Williamson, Marcus (2011). Claude Cahun at School in England. Marcus Williamson. ISBN 1257639528.
- Dawson, Barbara (1996). An Act of Faith: 100 Years of Education at Parsons Mead School, 1897–1997. Ashtead: Parsons Mead School.