Webb School (Bell Buckle, Tennessee)

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The Webb School
319 Webb Road East
Bell Buckle, Tennessee
United States
Coordinates35°35′21″N 86°20′50″W / 35.5892°N 86.3471°W / 35.5892; -86.3471Coordinates: 35°35′21″N 86°20′50″W / 35.5892°N 86.3471°W / 35.5892; -86.3471
TypePrivate, college preparatory, boarding school
MottoNoli Res Subdole Facere ("Do Nothing On The Sly.")
PrincipalHeadmaster Raymond S. Broadhead
Number of students320
Color(s)          Navy Blue and Athletic Gold (Formerly Purple and Gold)
MascotThe Webb Feet (formerly, "The Webb Scholars")

The Webb School is a private coeducational college preparatory boarding and day school in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, founded in 1870. It has been called the oldest continuously operating boarding school in the South. Under founder Sawney Webb's leadership, the school produced more Rhodes Scholars than any other secondary school in the United States.[1]


As worded by William R. Webb, Webb School's mission is "To turn out young people who are tireless workers and who know how to work effectively; who are accurate scholars, who know the finer points of morals and practice them in their daily living; who are always courteous [without the slightest trace of snobbery]." (Bracketed text was removed from the official mission of the school in the late 20th century but is commonly added to oral recitations by faculty and students.)


William R. "Sawney" Webb started the Webb School as a school for boys in Culleoka, Tennessee, in 1870. He was joined by his brother, John M. Webb, in 1873.[1]

After Vanderbilt University was founded in 1873, Webb School's "oldest and best boys" were able to enroll.[1]

Webb moved the school from Culleoka to its present-day location, a 145-acre campus in the small town of Bell Buckle, in 1886 after Culleoka incorporated and legalized the sale of alcohol in the new city.[1][2]

Sawney Webb's son W. R. Webb Jr., known as "Son Will," joined the school as a teacher in 1897 and became co-principal of the school with his father and uncle in 1908, unable to establish his own career. After their deaths (John Webb died in 1916 of a stroke and Sawney Webb in 1926 of old age), he became headmaster and remained in that position until his retirement in 1952.[3]

Webb began admitting girls as boarding students in 1973,[3] but earlier in its history Webb had allowed local girls to attend as day students, as noted in The Schoolmaker by Laurance McMillin, pg 120.

Notable alumni[edit]

Related schools[edit]

Sawney Webb's son and grandson later established The Webb Schools in Claremont, California and the Webb School of Knoxville in Knoxville, Tennessee, respectively.


  1. ^ a b c d William R. "Sawney" Webb in the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
  2. ^ Maury County (TN) Public Schools, The History of Education in the Culleoka Area
  3. ^ a b Webb School in the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
  4. ^ "About Judge Scott Crichton". judgescottcrichton.com. Retrieved August 28, 2013.

External links[edit]