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Steeped in History

It was in 1908 that Miss Alice Katherine Atkins established Chinthurst School on the site of the old perfume factory. Two years later a farmer's field was purchased and Chinthurst School* was built. This building has been the central part of the school ever since.

Miss Atkin's establishment seems to have been primarily a girls' school, and it accepted a limited number of boarders. A contemporary poster informs us that boys were 'prepared for school', which probably indicates that boys of kindergarten age, and possibly rather older ones, were taught.

There is very little information about how the school fared for the next 25 years, a period of great social upheaval, but we pick up the story in 1934, when the school was purchased and given to Mr and Mrs Bradley as a wedding present by Mr Bradley's father, Major Bradley. It appears to have been reasonably prosperous as a co-educational day and boarding school, and was described as 'liberal for the time'. Over the next few years a number of buildings were added to the original school house: 'Orchards', a boys' boarding house, and two houses in Tower Road - Little Chinthurst, which was used as a Kindergarten, and High Hedges (which no longer exists), which was used for staff accommodation. Westfield was purchased later, and the upper floors were used for girls' boarding accommodation. It now houses the Pre-Preparatory department.

The Second World War had inevitable effects on the School, but Chinthurst kept going throughout. Numbers dropped as some children were evacuated to safer areas; but several of these returned after a few years when the danger seemed less imminent. Mrs Bradley took about six pupils to the relative safety of a house the Bradleys owned in South Wales, but their stay there was brief. In Croydon a school was bombed, and some of the girls were transferred to Chinthurst from Croydon High School. In 1940 Mr Bradley produced the first edition of the 'Chinthurst Chantecleer' - a school magazine which provides numerous vignettes of life in wartime Chinthurst. We learn that the swimming pool was briefly converted into an air-raid shelter, but this arrangement was abandoned, as responding to every air-raid warning proved too distracting in lessons!

After the war, Chinthurst remained a coeducational day and boarding school, until the Bradleys sold out to Mr Ronald Kelley and his wife Joan in 1953. Ronald Kelley remained headmaster of Chinthurst until his retirement in 1977. Chinthurst in the 1950's still had many similarities with the pre-war school, notably in the accommodation: Art was taught in the long top room, now a staff flat, and there were a number of outbuildings: there was a garage which served as a carpentry workshop; there was a large building opposite the front door which was used as a gymnasium, and plays were performed there. Behind the gymnasium there were stables with horse riding an optional extra until comparatively recently.

Ronald Kelley transformed the school in other ways. Boarding was phased out, and girls were no longer catered for. Within a few years Chinthurst had changed into a typical modern boys' Prep School. Due to his generosity and the foresight of the first governors, the school was converted from a proprietary owned business to an Educational Trust in 1976. The next Headmaster, The Rev. Brian Batty, took up the reins in 1976, jointly with Mr Kelley for a year, and then independently until 1982.

Headmaster, Mr Trevor Egan and his wife Heather, were appointed in 1983 and remained in post for 26 years. New accommodation, such as the Morris House and the Art and Music Departments, were built, offering far wider opportunities to the boys than in the past and the school thrived and expanded during this time. Following Mr and Mrs Egan's retirement, Mr Ian Thorpe, formerly the Head of the Junior School at City of London Freemen's School, was then appointed as Chinthurst's Headmaster. Mr David Williams then took over the helm in September 2013 with Mr Tim Button being appointed Headmaster September 2015.

In December 2011, the Board of Governors made the landmark decision to return Chinthurst School to its former status as a co-educational school. As such, with effect from April 2012, Chinthurst School accepted girls for the first time since the mid-1950s. With the vast majority of secondary schools now admitting girls, the move was a decisive response to the changing market within the world of education. In April 2015 Chinthurst announced its move from 13+ to 11+ due to the local secondary schools of Epsom College and St. John's offering a new junior intake at 11+ from September 2016.

As of February 2017 Chinthurst School entered into a partnership with two highly regarded local schools, Reigate St. Mary's Preparatory and Choir School and Reigate Grammar School. This partnership ensures that the much-loved and highly successful Chinthurst School can continue to provide a caring and inspirational education to it's current and future pupils for many more years to come.

 

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