Back in April 1948, Aldwickbury School opened its doors for the first time, with 70 pupils, 7 members of staff and just one boarder! Throughout the seven decades that followed, much has changed at Aldwickbury, but our outlook and values have remained the same. Aldwickbury School is celebrating its 70th anniversary this month, with a look back at the history of the School.
1940s: a new beginning
Aldwickbury School opened in 1948, but it had a previous incarnation as Lea House prep school in Harpenden. The then Headmaster, Kenneth Castle, purchased the Aldwickbury mansion with big plans for its future, and together with his wife Mary, moved the school to its current home. Mrs Castle had a key role in the running of the school, taking charge of all domestic arrangements including catering and boarding. The School published the first edition of the Aldwickbury Magazine in 1949.
1950s: modernising and expansion
The 1950s were a decade of modernisation and improvements. By 1957, Aldwickbury had grown significantly, now accommodating 52 boarders. There was particular excitement in 1959 when Marigold Russell, a film starlet, opened the school fete!
1960s: a new era
In 1960, after the death of Mr Castle, Mr Chidell became sole proprietor and headmaster. Mrs Castle continued as Mistress of the 2nd Form, while Mrs Chidell supported the smooth running of the School. 1960 was an exciting year for Aldwickbury, with the completion of the outdoor swimming pool. Later, in 1963 the hall and chapel were completed. In 1967 the Kindergarten was incorporated into Aldwickbury, and the Nursery garden was purchased. In March 1969, Mr Chidell appointed a Board of Governors.
1970s: further extensions
During the 1970s, the School added a new gymnasium, new classrooms and a hard tennis court, and extended the hall and chapel. Mr Chidell continued as Head for the majority of the decade, teaching Maths and Music as well as acting as Bursar for the School. In 1979, Mr Chidell handed over to Mr Peter Jeffrey and his wife Christine. In addition to his duties as Headmaster, Mr Jeffrey also taught Maths and coached rugby. Christine taught English, ran the library and bookshop and entertained the School community.
1980s and 1990s: new buildings
The 1980s and 1990s saw lots of expansion and change at the School. Many new buildings were added; the kitchen was refurbished in 1980 and again in 2007; the science block in 1984; the junior classroom block in 1990; an indoor swimming pool in 1992; and the computer room.
Throughout this time, the number of boys attending the school continued to grow, reaching 272 in 1988.
2000s: Aldwickbury Values
In 2001 a new pre-prep building was built to house the youngest members of the School. Then, in 2003, after 24 years as Head, Mr Jeffrey retired and Vernon and Claire Hales took over.
Under Mr Hales, the eight Aldwickbury Values were introduced in 2005. These values, which emphasise good manners and consideration of others, encompass the spirit of the School and help contribute to the friendly atmosphere we are proud to nurture here at Aldwickbury.
In 2008, marking the 60th anniversary of the School, our beautiful stained-glass window was created, courtesy of The Aldwickbury School Old Boys. It still stands today and is a real focal point for visitors.
2010s: supporting boys to flourish
These days, there are 370 boys in the School (with around 50 boys enjoying our flexible boarding). Changes continue apace and we pride ourselves on our high-quality teaching, our deep understanding and knowledge of how boys learn, and our values which permeate every aspect of School life.
Read more about Aldwickbury School’s history.