History of the School

In 1886, a school called Durston House was founded in Ealing by Mr Ben Pearce and his brother Mr Robert Pearce. Both were graduates of Trinity College, Dublin, and keen to become worthy school-masters.

Mr Robert Pearce then married Miss Mable Perks and in 1893 they moved to Ripley to start the boarding school, Ripley Court which they had purchased from Mr William Wainwright. There had been a house on the site since at least 1568 and the present main building of the school dates from the 17th century and is grade 2 listed.

Mr G Onslow married Mr and Mrs Pearce’s daughter Angela in 1916 and in 1922 joined the staff of the school as Assistant Headmaster. By this time the School was being run by Mrs Pearce, as Mr Pearce had died in 1917 in a cycling accident.

During the Second World War, the School moved to Betton Strange Hall, near Shrewsbury and Ripley Court became a Maternity Hospital to cope with overflow from the Westminster Hospital.  Sadly, Mrs Pearce did not return to Ripley Court for she died in 1941 so Mr and Mrs Onslow took the pupils back to Ripley Court in 1946 and continued in charge of the School until Mr Onslow’s death in 1952.

In 1953 the School was sold to Mr Ashmore who remained as Headmaster until 1956. In 1956 Mr and Mrs W M Newte bought the School and Mr Newte, as Headmaster, began the task of turning it into a modern Preparatory School. This they did with typical skill by increasing the number of both boy boarders and day pupils and elevating the reputation of the school in the local area. Much new building was undertaken, the Barrington and Newte blocks, and the School, now a thriving centre of education, became a Charitable Trust in 1968. 

Mr Newte retired in 1978 and his deputy Mr Neville Dudgeon became Headmaster. Day girls were admitted from 1977 and in greater numbers from 1979, and boarding ceased in 1998. During Mr Dudgeon’s time in office, a new Sports Hall was built and subsequently changing rooms were added. In 2001 Mr Dudgeon retired and was replaced by Mr Andrew Gough. During his tenure the swimming pool was refurbished, the Orchard Block was replaced and the Holloway Hall was built. Also, the school became a fully coeducational day Preparatory School with equal numbers of boys and girls up to Year 6. Years 7 and 8 tended to be dominated by boys, as girls usually decided to take up their places at their chosen senior schools at the end of Year 6. Andrew Gough retired in 2019 and was succeeded by Gavin Ryan, his deputy, who was acting Headmaster throughout the transition phase of the merger with Reed’s senior school. Upon completion of the merger Mr Mark Hoskins, Headmaster of Reed’s School became the executive Headmaster of both schools.  

J A Simpson
July 2019
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