Rose Hill School

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Rose Hill School
Rose Hill School Logo.jpg
Rose hill aerial 2009.jpg
Motto Nisi Dominus Frustra
Established 1832
Type Preparatory School
Headmaster David Westcombe (1998)
Location Tunbridge Wells
Students c.300
Gender Mixed
Ages 3–13
Houses Baden-Powell, MacKinnon, Grange
Colours Burgundy and Grey

Rose Hill School is a British Independent School situated in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. It is a member of the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools. The school is co-educational.


The school was founded in Tunbridge Wells in 1832 by Thomas Robert Allfree (b1788-d1868), an English tutor to the Grand Dukes Alexander and Nicholas of Russia. In 1906, a second 'Rose Hill', with links to the first, opened in Banstead in Surrey. During World War II, this second Rose Hill moved to Alderley House in the small village of Alderley, near Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire, and in 2009 it merged with Querns Westonbirt School to form Rose Hill Westonbirt School. In 1966, the original Rose Hill moved from London Road in Tunbridge Wells to a new site about a mile away. It is now a school for boys and girls from the age of 3 to 13 on a seventeen acre site.


Rose Hill School was founded in 1832 by Thomas Robert Allfree, and started life in London Road, Tunbridge Wells. The Headship of Rose Hill School remained in the founding family until, on the death of Frederick C Allfree, it passed to his widow, Sarah Allfree. Originally advertised as a ‘classical school’, it prepared boys for the universities, public schools and military and naval colleges. In 1868 Robert Baden-Powell entered Rose Hill as a pupil.

In 1924 the Old Rose Hillians’ Society was set up, and in 1929 the building of “The Scouter” on the Rose Hill lawn was completed. It became a famous landmark in Tunbridge Wells, attracting many curious onlookers, and was used for sea scout meetings and Sunday services until it was dismantled in 1950 to be replaced by a swimming pool.

In 1948 Jack Grange became Headmaster, whilst in 1966 Rose Hill moved to its new purpose built premises in Culverden Down. The old school was demolished to make way for housing.

In 1972, the school became a charitable trust, and Mr David Jordan became Headmaster, with Mike Lenton as Joint Headmaster from 1973 until Lenton’s death in 1977. A new Art and Music block, the Lenton building, opened by Tunbridge Wells MP Sir Patrick Mayhew, was named in his honour.

In 1977 the Grange Rose Hill Educational Trust was formed, with Richard Grange appointed as a Governor. The school’s first Parents’ Association was formed.

In 1978 Julian Parker became Headmaster, and in 1979 a new Pre-Preparatory Department opened for four- and five-year-old boys. In 1983 the first girls were admitted to the Pre-Prep department, and in 1984 boarding ceased after more than a century, with the dormitories converted into Science and Computer rooms.

In 1990, a new purpose built brick Pre-Prep building opened, and in 1996 a Nursery was formed.

Julian Parker died in 1997, whilst still in office, and was succeeded by David Westcombe in 1998.

Notable milestones in recent years have been a £500,000 sports hall which was opened by Tunbridge Wells MP Archie Norman in 1998, and the Millennium Project – the £1.3million ‘Peter Smith Wing’, with library, classrooms and changing rooms, and phase 2, The ‘Creative Arts Centre’ – a £2million Theatre and Music, Art and Design Technology block.

In 2013 the school completed a new facility for teaching. Costing £2.1m, it includes a 95sq m science laboratory, 6 teaching classrooms, 2 ICT suites, a learning skills suite and a surgery for the school nurse.


The school is situated in seventeen acres of grounds adjacent to the green belt, but within five minutes of the centre of Tunbridge Wells. Children are prepared for Common Entrance and Scholarship entry to Independent Senior Schools but consideration is also given to competitive entry into local grammar schools at 11+.


The children progress from the Kindergarten (where the sessions begin with five mornings per week) into full-time school at 4 plus.

Class sizes average 16 throughout the department and each class has the support of a teaching assistant.

The children are introduced to Information and Communication Technology within the department and their skills are extended in the Prep School's ICT suites. French, PE and Music are taught by specialist teachers from the Prep School.

Lower School[edit]

The Lower School is housed in a modern, self-contained building within the Prep School. The children continue class-based teaching but are increasingly taught by specialist teachers for Art, Information and Communication Technology, French, Music, Design Technology, PE and Games. Setting is introduced in order to cater for differing abilities.

Pastoral Care is primarily the responsibility of the form tutors. Achievement is recorded in a personalised Homework Diary which ensures weekly communication with parents. Reports at half-term and the end of term summarise effort and attainment.

Upper School[edit]

Children are prepared for 13+ exams and Scholarships to independent schools, the 11+ examinations to independent and selective grammar schools and Key Stage 2 National Curriculum tests.

The curriculum is delivered by specialist subject teachers.

Creative arts[edit]

  • Art

Children are encouraged to experiment with a wide range of materials and work covers drawing, painting, printing, collage, pottery and three-dimensional design. Special talents are developed through art clubs with a view to future scholarship awards.

  • Music

Music contributes to many areas of school life, including musical productions from Kindergarten up to Year 8 and an annual carol service. Regular concerts enable Pre-Prep children, choirs, orchestra, string groups and soloists to perform to parents. Visiting music specialists provide the opportunity for children to learn a musical instrument.

  • Drama

Classes perform assemblies for parents and drama is an integral part of the English curriculum.

Sport and activities[edit]

  • Winter Sports

Hockey, Soccer, Netball, Rugby, Cross-Country

  • Summer Sports

Athletics, Cricket, Rounders, Swimming

  • Extra Curricular Activities

Many children take part in lunchtime and after-school clubs. Among others, these include: Cubs, Rainbows and Brownies, Dance, Judo, Chess, Table Tennis, Art, Golf, Swimming, Indoor Cricket Nets, Tennis, Basketball, Badminton, Trampolining, Fitness and a range of team practices. Clubs run at lunchtime and after school. They are fun, enjoyable and enrich the children's experience at school.

Old Rose Hillians[edit]

The Old Rose Hillians is an organisation which was set up to maintain links with former pupils. ORHS gives past pupils the opportunity to come together to enjoy social events and to keep in touch through the school website

Ongoing development[edit]

  • Sports Hall – 1998
  • New Kitchen & Dining Room – 1999
  • Second Computer Suite – 2002
  • New Classroom Block, Changing Rooms & Prep School Library – 2003
  • Theatre & Creative Arts Centre – 2008
  • Astroturf - 2010
  • New £2.2m classroom facility - 2013

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°8′24″N 0°14′46″E / 51.14000°N 0.24611°E / 51.14000; 0.24611