Temple Grove School

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Temple Grove School was a preparatory school for boys, and after 1984 also for girls, originally at Parsons Green, London, later at East Sheen, London, still later at Eastbourne, and finally at Heron's Ghyll, an estate between Uckfield and Crowborough in East Sussex.[1] Founded before 1803 at Parsons Green, where it was known as Elm House, before it gained the name of Temple Grove, a house at East Sheen, the school survived to become one of the oldest preparatory schools in England,[2] but in 2005 it finally closed.

In the 19th century the school was also sometimes called by the name of the headmaster of the day, as in Mr Waterfield's, East Sheen, or Mr Edgar's.


The school was founded before 1803 at Elm House, Parsons Green.[3] In 1810 its headmaster, Dr Pearson, moved it to East Sheen, occupying an old house called Sheen Grove, or Temple Grove, so called because it was believed to have been the home of the 17th century diplomat and politician Sir William Temple when he lived at Sheen with Jonathan Swift as his secretary.[4] The school remained there for almost a hundred years.[5] During the 19th century it rose to become one of the "Famous Five" of English prep schools, defined by one writer as "schools to which a duke would be pleased to send his sons". Despite that, it was primitive and gave boys a Spartan upbringing; it was reported that in winter "In the dormitories, snow piled frequently upon the blankets and ice formed on the water jugs".[6]

In 1907, the school moved from East Sheen to the New College buildings at Eastbourne, at a time when East Sheen had changed its character, having been engulfed by the London suburbs.[3][5] By the 1930s the new Eastbourne site was proving expensive to maintain, so a search was begun for a new site, and dozens of possibilities were explored. In September 1935, Temple Grove moved again to Heron's Ghyll, a country house with thirty acres of land near Uckfield.[3]

In 1957, with the departure of a headmaster, Meston Batchelor, the school was formed into a charitable trust.[7] Since it closed in 2005, its name has been continued by the trust, which supports education in the locality, notably sponsoring the Temple Grove Academy in nearby Tunbridge Wells. The school's own former premises were sold to Stonehurst Estates, which converted the main house into flats.


  • 1810–1817: Rev. Dr William Pearson (also an astronomer)[8]
  • 1817–1835: Rev. Dr J. H. Pinckney[9]
  • 1835–1843: J. Thompson[10]
  • 1845–1863: Rev. Dr George Croke Rowden (also a composer)[11]
  • 1863–1880: Ottiwell Waterfield
  • 1880–1893: Rev. J. H. Edgar[12]
  • 1894–1902: Rev. H. B. Allen[12]
  • 1902–1934: Rev. H. W. Waterfield[13]
  • 1934–1957: Meston Batchelor[3]
  • Oliver Lough
  • Rev Tim Sterry
  • 1980-1991: S. B. Beresford-Davies[14]
  • 1991-1992: Simon Amos Blackmore
  • 1992-2001 Jenny Lee

Notable pupils[edit]

See also Category:People educated at Temple Grove School

The old boys of Temple Grove include:

Further reading[edit]

  • Meston Batchelor, Cradle of Empire: a preparatory school through nine reigns (Phillimore, 1981), is a history of Temple Grove School.


M.R. James identified Temple Grove School as the setting for his short ghost story A School Story published in More Ghost Stories

See also[edit]

  • Skidmore College, an unrelated liberal arts college in Saratoga Springs, New York, was originally known as Temple Grove Ladies Seminary

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Domesday Reloaded". BBC. 1986. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "History of Temple Grove School". Temple Grove Trust. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Anthony Freeman, Tom Sholl, This is the DPB: the history of a Quango, 1948-1998 (2000), pp. 28–30
  4. ^ H. W. Waterfield, Temple Grove Register 1905 (1905), p. 5
  5. ^ a b Charles Marshall Rose, Nineteenth Century Mortlake and East Sheen: a factual history (Privately printed, 1961), p. 55
  6. ^ Peter Gronn, The Making of Educational Leaders, pp. 49–50
  7. ^ Which School? (1988), p. 168
  8. ^ a b Andrew Nicholson, ed., The letters of John Murray to Lord Byron (2007), p. 290
  9. ^ a b History of the Royal Astronomical Society 1820–1920, pp. 24–26
  10. ^ Temple Grove Register 1905 (1905), p. 9: "HEADMASTERS. Rev. Dr. W. PEARSON, about 1810—1817. Rev. Dr. J. H. PINCKNEY, 1817—1835. J. THOMPSON, Esq, 1835—1843..."
  11. ^ Maggie Humphreys, Dictionary of Composers for the Church in Great Britain and Ireland (Robert Evans, 1997), p. 295
  12. ^ a b The Home Counties Magazine: Devoted to the Topography of London, Middlesex, Essex, Herts, Bucks, Berks, Surrey, Kent and Sussex, Volume 9 (1907), p. 140
  13. ^ Vyvyen Brendon, Prep School Children: a class apart over two centuries (2009), pp. 99–100
  14. ^ Schools (1980), p. 360
  15. ^ Sir Gilbert Falkingham Clayton, Robert O. Collins, An Arabian Diary (1969), p. 303
  16. ^ Spencer Tucker, Who's Who in Twentieth Century Warfare (2003), p. 16
  17. ^ Robert Hamilton, 12th Lord Belhaven and Stenton, The Uneven Road (1955), p. 11
  18. ^ Tracy Chevalier, Encyclopaedia of the Essay (1997), p. 85
  19. ^ Edward Frederic Benson, Our family affairs, 1867-1896 (1920), p. 76
  20. ^ a b History page(PDF) at templegrove.org.uk, accessed 26 August 2014 Archived 13 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Thomas L. Gertzen, Sir Alan Henderson Gardiner (1879-1963) in William Carruthers (ed.), Histories of Egyptology: Interdisciplinary Measures (2014), p. 36
  22. ^ Darryl Jones, introduction to Collected Ghost Stories of M. R. James (2011), p. xii
  23. ^ Brian Johnston, A Further Slice of Johnners (2011, ISBN 1448114071), p. 7
  24. ^ Current Opinion, vol. 6 (1891), p. 23

Coordinates: 51°1′29″N 0°6′54″E / 51.02472°N 0.11500°E / 51.02472; 0.11500