Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School

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Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School
Sompting Abbott Crest.png
Sompting Abbotts Crest
Church Lane


West Sussex
BN15 0AZ

United Kingdom
TypeIndependent School
MottoIntus recte (Inward righteousness)
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
FounderAC Rutherford
Local authorityWest Sussex County Council
PrincipalPatricia Sinclair
Head teacherStuart Douch
Age2 to 13

Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School is a historic West Sussex independent school in Sompting, near Worthing and Steyning. It educates children of both sexes from 2 to 13.[1] The school sits in parkland of 30 acres, which includes woodland, chalk grassland slopes and a pond.[2]

The school was founded in 1921[3] and is a member of the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS)[4] and it is a non-selective day school.[5] The headmaster is Stuart Douch and the principal is Patricia Sinclair.[6] The school has strong links with Church of St Mary the Blessed Virgin and holds its annual Harvest Festival and Christmas Carol services there.[7]

Sompting Abbotts House[edit]

The parkland of Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School
Aerial view

The main school is housed in Sompting Abbotts House and was originally called Sompting Manor.[8] Sompting Abbotts and the estate around it is believed to have been inhabited since the Neolithic period.[9] The line of the original Chichester–Brighton Roman road runs through the school parkland.[8]

Following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, Sompting Manor was granted in 1540 to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk.[10]

In 1814, Princess Caroline, wife of the Prince of Wales (later King George IV), stayed at the manor on one of her royal visits to Worthing. It followed a stay in the town during her troubled marriage.[11][12] The next day, she sailed to France from Lancing.[13]

Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School
view from south

The manor, along with its 1,500-acre (610-hectare) estate passed to Reverend P.G. Croft in 1830.[14] At this time, the manor contained a house with a five-bay symmetrical south front.[15]

Sompting Abbotts House was built in 1856 for Rev. Croft’s son, Henry. it was designed by the architect Philip Charles Hardwick (later to design the great hall of Euston railway station) in Neo-Gothic style for the then owner Henry Croft to replace Sompting Manor. Hardwick's design was completed in 1856.[8] The 1875 Ordnance Survey map shows the ground to the east and south with sweeping lawns with groups of trees which remain today.[16] Sompting Abbotts House features high slate roofs, lancet casement windows, stone mullions, octagonal towers, spiral staircases and a castellated parapet.[7] The house is a Grade II listed building.[17]

School history[edit]

The school was founded following World War I by the Rutherford family in 1921.[18] Mr. A.C. Rutherford opened Sompting Abbotts House as a boys' boarding school in 1921, which lasted until the outbreak of World War II in 1939, when it was temporary closed. They were evacuated to Cabalva Hall, Wales,[19] and the house and grounds were taken under control of the Army.[20]

The Sinclair family acquired the premises in 1946, following the war and re-opened it as a boy's boarding school, though it had become dilapidated in the interim years. The headmaster, Nigel Sinclair, later wrote "It was a depressing sight. All the playing fields and lawns were an unrecognisable overgrown jungle of grass and bushes," adding that most windows had been broken."[7] In 2018, an old wartime letter, dated 1939, to a past pupil was discovered under the floorboards of a dormitory. The school traced its original owner across the world to Australia.[21] Over the years, the school has evolved. It became co-educational in 1998 and closed its boarding facilities in 2008.[7] In total, it has had six headmasters: John Hammond,[22] George Rutherford, Nigel Sinclair, Richard Johnson[23] and Timothy Sinclair.[24] The current head is Stuart Douch.


Entrance to Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School

The school offers a curriculum that includes IT, coding and computing,[25] art, PE, music and drama. It prepares children for the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) and for other scholarship examinations to public senior schools. As of 2017 it cites a 100% success rate in the CEE since 2008 and 95% success rate for all pupils entered for a scholarship since 2008.[26] The school is not a designated feeder school to any specific senior school.[27] Destination senior schools to which pupils have gained scholarships, exhibitions and awards since 2007[28] include Lancing College, Brighton College, Hurstpierpoint College, Seaford College, Sherborne, Worth, Dulwich College, Farlington, Burgess Hill Girls and Towers Convent School.

Notable alumni[edit]

The author Alex Preston described Sompting Abbotts as "all of my Jennings and Malory Towers fantasies rolled into one Gothic dream of a building."[29] Other alumni include lead singers Samuel Preston (of The Ordinary Boys) and Ned Mortimer[30] (of August and After),[31] property developer Nicholas Sutton, cricketer and headmaster Chris Saunders, and Simon Walsh, consultant in emergency medicine at The Royal London Hospital.[32] Nicholas Linfield, awarded an OBE for services to defence in the 2017 New Year Honours, said: "There are legions of us out there who owe this school an enormous debt of gratitude."[33]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Donowhon, Linda. "ISI Regulatory Compliance 2016". Independent Schools Inspectorate. Independent Schools Inspectorate. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  2. ^ Abbotts, Sompting. "Grounds and facilities". Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  3. ^ Rutherford, A.C. "A step back in time: the people behind the history of Sompting Abbotts". Sompting Abbotts Prep School. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Sompting Abbotts". The Independent Association of Prep Schools. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  5. ^ Abbotts, Sompting. "Admissions Procedures". Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Senior Management Team". Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School.
  7. ^ a b c d Abbotts, Sompting. "School history". Sompting Abbotts. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Hudson, TP. "A History of the County of Sussex". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  9. ^ "Sompting Abbotts, Worthing, England". Sussex Gardens Trust. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  10. ^ Penn, L&P. "A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1, Bramber Rape (Southern Part)". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  11. ^ Feest, Freddie. "Worthing history". Worthing history. Worthing history. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Worthing History".
  13. ^ Varenham, Arthur (1853). The British Imperial Calendar. General Register of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and Its Colonies. p. 112. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  14. ^ Godfrey, John (2002). Land ownership and farming on the South Downs in West Sussex c. 1840–1940 (PDF) (Record ID 1479 ed.). Sussex Archaeological Collections: Sussex Archaeological Society. p. 114. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  15. ^ Tristram, Mike. "Sompting Estate History". Sompting Estate. Sompting Estate. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  16. ^ Parks & Gardens UK, Sarah. "Sompting Abbotts, Worthing, England Record Id:7163". Parks & Gardens UK. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  17. ^ Adur & Worthing Council. "Listed buildings of Adur and Worthing" (PDF). Worthing and Adur Councils. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  18. ^ Sussex Film Office. "Sussex Film Office Neo-Gothic Buildings". Sussex Film Office. Sussex Film Office. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  19. ^ Scott-Kerr, Douglas. "Boris Johnson's quest to improve literacy". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  20. ^ Sinclair, Nigel. "A step back in time: the people behind the history of Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School". Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  21. ^ "Wartime letter sparks global hunt for Suffolk schoolboy's identity". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  22. ^ Beckles, Hilary (1995). Liberation Cricket: West Indies Cricket Culture. Manchester University Press. p. 51.
  23. ^ "Inspiring Sompting Headmaster remembered". Worthing Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  24. ^ College, Brighton. "Obituary, Timothy Sinclair". Brighton College. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  25. ^ Abbotts, Sompting. "IT and Computing". Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  26. ^ Abbotts, Sompting. "Scholarships and Common Entrance". Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Why you Should Send your Child to a Non-Feeder School". Independent School Parent. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  28. ^ Sompting, Abbotts. "Admissions to West Sussex independent school, Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School". Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  29. ^ Preston, Alex. "Alex Preston on the 'warmth and genial eccentricity' of Sompting Abbotts". Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  30. ^ "The hauntingly beautiful hit song inspired by the walled secret garden at Sompting Abbotts". Sompting Abbotts Prep School.
  31. ^ "Unsigned Music Awards: August and After on their nomination for Best Country/Folk act". The Independent. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  32. ^ London's Air Ambulance. "London's Air Ambulance Dr Simon Walsh". London's Air Ambulance. London's Air Ambulance. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  33. ^ "Nick Linfield, OBE, on why he owes Sompting Abbotts "an enormous debt of gratitude"". Sompting Abbotts Prep School. Retrieved 30 October 2017.