The Prebendal School

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Prebendal School
Fons Sapientae Verbum Dei
The Word of God is the Fountain of Wisdom
Chichester, West Sussex,
Type Preparatory day and boarding
Religious affiliation(s) Church of England
Established 1497
Founder Bishop Edward Story
Head Master Timothy Cannell
Staff 45 (approx.)
Gender Mixed
Age 3 to 13
Enrollment 150 (approx.)[1]
Houses Luffa, Neville,
Seffrid, Sherborne
Colour(s) Red     
Publication The Prebendalian

The Prebendal School is an independent preparatory school in Chichester, situated adjacent to the Chichester Cathedral precinct. It is a boarding and day school with roughly 150 pupils including the cathedral choristers. The school has ancient origins as the medieval cathedral song school at the thirteenth century school house in West Street.[2]


The Prebendal is the oldest school in Sussex and probably dates back to the foundation of Chichester Cathedral in the eleventh century when it was a 'song school', teaching and housing the choristers. It was later extended to admitting other boys from the city and neighbouring areas.[3] In 1497, it was re-founded as a grammar school by the Bishop of Chichester Edward Story, who also attached it to the Prebend of Highleigh in Chichester Cathedral, hence the name of the school.[4]

The thirteenth century school house with its narrow tower still stands in West Street. Long dormitory, on the top floor, contains 300-year-old panelling, featuring some historic graffiti. Two adjoining eighteenth-century houses have been added, while the addition in 1966 of the east wing of the Bishop's Palace, which is next door to the main school buildings, provides considerable extra space. Further renovations have provided an assembly hall, new classrooms and an art room. There is a modern science laboratory and an ICT room.[5] In 2012, the school expanded into adjoining period properties on West Street, adding to the charm of its accommodation and enabling more classrooms and offices to be created on the site.[6]

Girls were introduced into the school in 1972. The school is now a co-educational, day and boarding preparatory school for children between 3 and 13 years of age.

The Pre-Prep Department is for pupils aged between 3 and 7. It was set up in 1996 and originally located in Northgate House, a large Tudor house in the centre of Chichester, but has since re-located to the location of the Prep Department. The Pre-Prep has its own headmistress.


Each pupil is a member of a school house, which are named after former Bishops of Chichester. There are also seven boarding houses that accommodate for up to 46 boarders. Matrons are responsible for the health and laundry of the boarders.

School Houses
House Bishop
Luffa Ralph Luffa
Neville Ralph Neville
Seffrid Seffrid I and Seffrid II
Sherborne Robert Sherbourne
Boarding Houses
House Namesake
Long The length of the dormitory
Tarring A nearby village
Bell George Bell, Bishop of Chichester
St Edmund's Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury
Juxon William Juxon, Old Prebendalian and Archbishop
St Wilfred's (girls) Wilfrid, Bishop of Selsey
St Richard's (girls) Richard of Chichester, Bishop of Chichester


Pupils cover the syllabus for either the Common Entrance or Common Academic Scholarship examination to senior independent schools, offered by the Independent Schools Examinations Board. School examinations take place once a year during the summer term.

Subjects include english, mathematics, science, french, history, geography, religious studies, latin (from the age of 9), art, D&T, music and drama.



As a choir school educating the cathedral choristers, the school has an extremely strong music department.[5][7] Since 2006, the school has applied a policy of "Music for All", in which each pupil receives a musical instrument education during their time, with a wide variety of instruments on offer. There are many groups, including two choirs, a full orchestra, concert band, ensembles of string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments, a Baroque trio and many other chamber groups.

The Memorial Garden

Concerts take place throughout the academic year. many concerts are informal, but a number are performed in the cathedral. Music competitions are also arranged in school: the inter-house music and house singing competitions being notable examples.[6]


Games sessions are held every afternoon and many matches are played against other schools. The playing fields are close to the school, just outside the historic city walls. There are four football pitches, two hockey fields, cricket nets, and two tennis courts. The major sports played are soccer, hockey, rugby and netball in the winter terms and cricket, athletics, tennis and swimming in the summer term.


Drama is taught to all pupils between years 3 and 7. There is one major school production during the year, which takes place during the Michaelmas Term. This runs for four nights and involves many children, not only acting but helping backstage with the set, lighting, costumes, make-up and music.


Years 1, 7 and 8 have a double period of art per week and years 4, 5 and 6 have three periods per week. Art pupils visit local galleries, such as Pallant House Gallery.[6]

Cathedral choristers[edit]

The school educates the Chichester Cathedral choristers who enter the school on a choral scholarship. Both choristers and probationers are full boarders. The choristers are under the leadership of the Cathedral Organist and Master of the Choristers, who currently is Charles Harrison.

During term time they sing Evensong in the cathedral each day of the week and at the main services each Sunday. Voice trials take place once a year, usually in January. Candidates sit an academic assessment test in the school and attend a voice trial.

Old Prebendalians[edit]

Alumni are known as Old Prebendalians. Notable Old Prebendalians include,

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Independent Schools Council profile". ISC. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Ollerenshaw, Neville (28 September 1984). A History of the Prebendal School. Phillimore. ISBN 9780850335521. 
  3. ^ "History of Chichester cathedral choir school". Of Choristers - ancient and modern. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Miner, John Nelson (1990). The Grammar Schools of Medieval England. McGill-Queen's Press. pp. 277–278. ISBN 0-7735-0634-9. 
  5. ^ a b "ISI Integrated Inspection: The Prebendal School" (PDF). March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c "The Good Schools Guide review for The Prebendal School". Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "Prebendal School in Chichester celebrates outstanding rating". Chichester Observer. 8 May 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°50′11″N 0°46′57″W / 50.83639°N 0.78250°W / 50.83639; -0.78250