Windermere School

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Windermere School
Windermere School crest.jpeg
Crest of Windermere School
Motto Vincit qui se vincit
(One conquers who conquers oneself)
Established 1863
Type Independent day and boarding school
Chairman of Governors Michael Dwan
Founder Elizabeth Hall and Catherine Sharpe
Location Patterdale Road
LA23 1NW
United Kingdom
Coordinates: 54°23′38″N 2°54′48″W / 54.3939°N 2.9133°W / 54.3939; -2.9133
DfE number 909/6008
Students 400 (approx.)
Gender Mixed
Ages 2–18
Houses Cavendish, Flemyng, Lonsdale and Strickland (red, blue, green, yellow)
Colours Navy and cyan          
Former pupils Stannites

Windermere School is an independent, co-educational boarding and day school in the English Lake District. It has approximately 400 pupils between the ages of 2 and 18, a third of whom are boarders. Windermere Preparatory School caters for pupils up to the age of 11, after which they transfer to the senior department. Originally a girls' school, boys have been admitted since 1999. Windermere was previously known as 'St Anne's School, Windermere'. It is a member of Round Square and the Society of Headmasters & Headmistresses of Independent Schools. The Good Schools Guide describes Windermere as 'a school which revels in a hearty approach to everything from academia to friendships'.[1]


The school was founded in 1863 in the Lancashire coastal town of Lytham, by the young schoolmistresses Elizabeth Hall and Catherine Sharpe. Its first premises were rooms in Miss Hall's parents' house, 'The Coppice', near the Lytham seafront. The school moved into its own house on Agnes Street two years later. It was named 'The School for the Accomplished', and catered for the daughters (and a few sons) of wealthy Lancashire industrialists. Miss Hall and Miss Sharpe later moved it to Belgrave House on St Anne's Road West in the new town of St Annes-on-Sea, two miles up the coast. Boy pupils were phased out during this time and the ever-expanding girls' school eventually moved again to a purpose-built house at 40, North Promenade, St Annes, in 1887, as 'St Anne's High School for Girls'.

The biggest upheaval came in 1924, when the school left Lancashire for the Browhead Estate in Windermere, Cumbria. The then vacant house had been acquired by joint headmistresses Helen Leigh and E.M. Morrison, possibly with financial assistance from Mrs Leigh's husband. The name was altered to 'St Anne's School, Windermere' and it has remained, and expanded, at Browhead ever since. The neighbouring estate of Elleray was acquired in 1944 to house the school's preparatory department.

Young boys had been educated at Elleray since the 1970s, and boys were finally admitted to the senior school in 1999. Boys now make up half the school roll across all ages.

The school's name was simplified to 'Windermere School' in 2010, at which point Elleray became 'Windermere Preparatory School'.

Headmistresses and Headmasters[edit]

  • Catherine Sharpe (1863 - 1899)
  • Elizabeth Hall (1863 - 1907)
  • Helen Leigh (née Fulstow) (1899 - ?)
  • E. M. Morrison (1907 - 1944)
  • Vera Crampton (1944 - 1972)
  • Michael Jenkins (1972 - 1996)
  • Ross Hunter (1996 - 1999)
  • Wendy Ellis (1999 - 2005)
  • Allan Graham (2005 - 2010)
  • Ian Lavender (2010–)


The National Curriculum is followed at all levels. Sixth form students may pursue the International Baccalaureate Diploma and the International Baccalaureate Careers Certificate.[2]


Sport is a compulsory part of the curriculum for all pupils. The major competitive sports are netball, hockey, football, tennis, cricket and athletics, in which regular competitive opportunities are provided and support is given to the many students who participate at county level and beyond. Basketball, rounders, cross-country running, volleyball and rugby are offered as club sports at the school. Riding is another recreational activity within the activities programme and the school supports many serious competitors who are involved up to international level.

Outdoor Education[edit]

Outdoor Education is a compulsory part of the curriculum for pupils up to the age of 60. The outdoor curriculum includes mountaineering, orienteering, ghyll-scrambling and rock-climbing, as well as a full watersports programme from Hodge Howe, the school's watersports centre on Windermere, England's largest lake. Sixth formers can opt to undertake the International Baccalaureate Career Certificate, combining core academic elements of the International Baccalaureate with a BTEC in Sport and Adventure.

The Arts[edit]

The Music department offers a wide range of organised group musical activities which include the orchestra, chamber ensembles for string and wind instruments, junior and senior choirs, a madrigal group and jazz, flute, string, tutu and saxophone groups. Individual tuition is also offered, and Music is offered as a GCSE and IB option.

Drama/Theatre Studies is also offered at all stages of the curriculum. Every year the Drama/Theatre, Art and Music departments combine forces to produce a major musical which is performed to public audiences in December. The Spring Term offers the opportunity for student-led performances in the Inter-House Performing Arts Competition in early February and the term ends with the more serious senior drama production. In the summer term the Drama Club performs a small-scale production to the whole school.

The Dance department is based in a purpose-built studio. All grades of ballet instruction and different levels of tap and jazz dance are currently on offer to the students, in which they can be prepared for the appropriate examinations.



Browhead, pictured during the school's 150th anniversary celebrations in 2012

The senior school is based at the Browhead campus — a wooded, fellside estate of 92 acres, a mile from the village of Windermere. At its heart is a large Victorian mansion, which houses the school's administrative centre, library, and girls' boarding accommodation on the upper floors. Crampton Hall was added in 1967. Other buildings on site include the Westmorland and Langdale boarding houses for sixth formers and boys respectively, a science complex, additional classrooms, Jenkins Centre (for the music, performing arts and languages departments, plus dining hall and kitchens), the art and technology department at South Lodge, additional staff accommodation at North Lodge, the Headmaster's house (Brow Wood), the Astroturf hockey pitch, tennis courts, sports hall and sports field. Much of the landscaping and planting date from the nineteenth century, and the estate is home to a variety of rare plants and trees.


Windermere Preparatory School occupies the neighbouring estate of Elleray, on the outskirts of Windermere. A large Victorian house forms the centre of the school, and more recent extensions house its infant and nursery departments. Elleray has its own football/rugby pitches and tennis court, and the surrounding fields serve as a large playground. Three eco-friendly 'pod' classrooms were built in 2009.

Hodge Howe[edit]

Hodge Howe harbour on Windermere

The school's third campus is its watersports centre, Hodge Howe, on the shore of Windermere. There is a central pavilion with changing facilities, a boathouse, harbour and extensive wooded grounds. Hodge Howe has accreditation from the British Canoe Union and the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, as well as being an RYA Teaching Centre.


Boarding has been a central tradition since the school's foundation. Today, boarders account for approximately half the senior school pupils, and there are a small number from the preparatory school. Boarders live in one of three houses, all at the senior school site:

Westmorland House[edit]

Westmorland House is the Sixth Form centre, acting as both boarding house and study centre for students aged 16 to 18. Boarders live in single-sex flats of five, complete with kitchenette and a common room. Day students are also assigned to a flat. There are also central common rooms and computer facilities. The Houseparent couple and their family have their own flat in the building, as do other house staff.


Browhead houses girl boarders from the ages of eight to 16. It comprises the two upper floors of the main school building, Browhead. The girls sleep in dormitories until Year 9 (ages 14/15), after which they transfer to double or single study bedrooms for their two GCSE years. Many of the Browhead rooms retain original Victorian features, such as sash windows and cast-iron fireplaces.

Langdale House[edit]

Langdale houses boy boarders from the ages of eight to 16. Purpose-built in a wooden Scandinavian style in 2001, it operates the same sleeping arrangements as Browhead.

House Teams[edit]

For competitive purposes, the school is divided into four linear 'houses' in the team sense. They are Cavendish (red), Flemyng (blue), Lonsdale (green) and Strickland (yellow). Numerous inter-house sports competitions are held during the year, as well as the Interhouse Performing Arts Competition, which involves the whole school.


Girls wear a navy kilt and jumper worn over a white and navy striped blouse. In addition, girls still wear the striped 'deckchair' blazer — one of the few reminders of the school's seaside past. Boys wear a plain navy blazer and grey trousers, with a white shirt and navy school tie. Sixth formers wear dark suits of their own choosing.


Former Windermere pupils are known as 'Stannites', a word derived from the school's original name. The Stannite Association organises annual reunions and other events. Notable Stannites include:


External links[edit]