West Buckland School

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West Buckland School

TypePublic School
Independent school
MottoRead and Reap
FounderJoseph Lloyd Brereton
HeadmasterMr Phillip Stapleton
Enrollment600 (approx.)

West Buckland School is an independent school in West Buckland, Devon in the English public school tradition. It comprises a senior school, preparatory school, and a nursery. It is a relatively high performing school in Devon.[1][2] It was one of eight schools shortlisted for 'Boarding School of the Year' in the TES Independent School Awards 2019, a category won by Cottesmore School.[3][4]

The school facilitates 640 pupils of whom around 140 board; 16% of students are international. The day pupils and weekly boarders are drawn from a wide area of North Devon and beyond, many using the large school bussing operation in collaboration with local coach operators.



West Buckland School was founded as the Devon County School in 1858 by Rev. J.L. Brereton to provide a public school education for sons of farmers and the middle class. The foundation stone of the Gothic(?)-style buildings was laid in October 1860 by Earl Fortescue, who had provided land and other support for the school.

Under the first headmaster, J.H. Thompson, numbers rose to 150 by 1876 and then declined as a consequence of agricultural depression and competition from other schools.[citation needed]

In the winter of 1912/13 the school was renamed West Buckland School.

During the 1950s it received increasing support from the Devon County Educational authority and became a direct grant school. In 1976, when direct grants were abolished, it finally became a fully independent school.

Expansion and development[edit]

Since 2008, the school has expanded its facilities, that year saw the completion of a sports hall behind the nineteenth century complex. In April 2010, the 150 Building opened, a combination of buildings containing modern art, design and technology workshops; a theatre which replaced an old theatre; an assembly space for the prep school and a quadrangle. In Autumn 2015, the 'Michael Morpurgo' library opened. In the building there is also the head of sixth form office; an English and economics classroom; the school library and a work area with computers for pupils. Also opened in 2015 was Parkers, a sixth form boarding house for boys and girls, with a downstairs lounge and kitchen for the use of day pupils as well.[5]

West Buckland School has a four-house system, the houses being:

Numerous inter-house competitions are held throughout the school year in music, drama, and sport, culminating in Sports' Day on the final day of the summer term. Points are awarded according to how well houses do in each competition and whichever house has amassed the largest number of points after Sports' Day wins the coveted Southcomb Shield. Since 2013 The Grenville have won and retained the Southcomb Shield for 7 consecutive years.

The origins of the shield are detailed in an extract from West Buckland School 1858–1958. The First Hundred Years. A Review of a Century recorded by Friends and Pupils.

On July 31, 1917, there fell in action, E.H. Southcomb, then a Lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment. He was for many years a very cheerful member of the Brereton House, no great athlete but always ready to play his part to the best of his ability. On leaving West Buckland he went, by his father's wish, to Shrewsbury for two years, and then entered a bank, where he remained till war broke out. On his death it was found that he had left a legacy (£10 10s. 0d.) to the Sports Fund of his first school, and somewhat late it has at last been decided to perpetuate his memory by a Shield which will be held by the House which obtains the chief athletic cups in the School year, which starts in September. For this purpose, each of the Challenge Cups carries a definite mark. The allocation of marks for each cup was not an easy matter and even now the values may require re-adjustment in 1924. The Headmaster formed a committee consisting of Messrs. Corless, Taylor and Walton, and the list as issued by them will hold good at any rate till July, 1924. The winning House will hold the shield, which will be hung over their dining tables, and will also take the right of the line on ceremonial parades.


There are currently three main boarding houses at West Buckland:

  • Bamfylde – situated on the preparatory school site, and catering for girls aged 11 to 16. (named after the Bamfylde family, Barons Poltimore, historic lords of the manor of nearby North Molton)
  • Boyer House – for boys aged 11 to 16
  • Parkers – for sixth form boys and girls aged 16 to 18

Each of the boarding houses has its own houseparent.


Fees per term in 2019: Day Fees: £2,690-£5,020; Boarding Fees: £8,115-£11,220.[6]


The OWBA ties, country (left) and city (right)

The Exmoor Runs[edit]

Every year the school holds the Exmoor Run, essentially a cross-country run across Exmoor. The Senior Boys' Run is reputed to be the longest school cross-country run in the country, with a walk of eight miles to the start and a run of ten miles back to the finish (the school). Senior girls are required to walk six and to run seven and a half miles. Junior boys walk out five miles and run back five and a half, while Junior girls walk four and run four.


  1. ^ "Secondary School League Tables in Devon 2012". Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  2. ^ "Best schools in Devon and Exeter for GCSE and A Level results revealed 2016". Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  3. ^ "Independent School Awards 2019 Shortlist". Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  4. ^ "Independent School Awards 2019 Winners". Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  5. ^ "Senior School Study Centre and Sixth Form Facilities". Retrieved 2015-01-16.
  6. ^ "West Buckland". UK Boarding Schools. 2019. Retrieved 17 July 2019.


  • Coates, Berwick: West Buckland School: The Millennium Book (Halsgrove, 2000)
  • Edmunds, Jon.: A History of West Buckland School (Aycliffe Press, 1983)
  • Honey, J.R. de S.: Tom Brown's Universe, The Development of the Victorian Public School (pp 47–103) (Millington, 1977)

External links[edit]