Our History

In 1920, Lionel and Margaret Evans brought 43 boys to Swanbourne House from Bradfield College. The link between Swanbourne and Bradfield remained strong throughout the 1920s. Boys went on to most of the leading public schools as well as to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.

In those early years, all classes were held in the Mansion House but now there are six main teaching areas – the Junior School, the Fremantle Technology Building, the Evans Block, the Walker Building, the Pre-Prep and Home Farm Day Nursery.

Dress code for the first 30 years was Norfolk Jackets and knee breeches during the week and Eton suits on Sundays. There were rarely more than two cars on site and boarders travelled by train to and from school; their trunks and play boxes were brought up from Swanbourne station on a horse-drawn carrier’s cart.

In 1945, Lionel Evans retired and his eldest son, Harold, succeeded him as Head Master. 1950 saw portable radios and crystal sets begin to appear around school and Sunday evening film shows were introduced showing Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. In 1965 the Science Laboratory was refurbished and in 1971 improvement was made to the playing fields, staff accommodation, tennis courts, stage, music room, art room and scout huts. 1972 saw the paddock cleared, levelled and drained to create the playing field we see today. Harold retired in 1974, the School having become a Charitable Trust.

In 1975, Geoffrey Jameson joined as Head Master and during his time day children and girls were introduced, though boarding continues to the present. In 1981 the first computer was bought for the school, a commodore P.E.T.

In 1982, Tom More succeeded as Head Master until his retirement in 1996. During this time there were many more developments. The Pre-Prep department, including the 4s opened in 1983 and the Evans Building was opened in 1984. Swanbourne House Nursery School opened in 1986 and in 1987 the Fremantle Technology Building was opened. 1989 brought with it the opening of the Bridget More Hall.

Stephen and Julie Goodhart were appointed as Joint Heads following Tom More’s retirement in 1996, and they saw the school through many more exciting changes including, The Coach House, an extension to the Pre-Prep, opened in 1997 and a new Astro-turf sports area (the Red Astro) in the same year was opened. 1998 saw The Stable House, a new Nursery building and two new Boarding dormitories opened. The Walker building and heated indoor swimming pool were opened in 2001, and in 2010 a new Astro-turf pitch (the Green Astro) was opened. The School also celebrated its 90th Anniversary in 2010. The Goodharts retired in 2013.

Simon Hitchings was Head from 2013 to 2018. During his tensure there was a complete refurbishment of the Chapel, the Front Hall (where visitors and parents now enter through the formal entrance) and the Music School.

There is an ongoing programme of classroom refurbishment throughout the Pre-Prep and the Prep with new teaching walls and state-of-the-art touchscreen boards.

The current head is Mrs Jane Thorpe, MA (Cantab) who took over the leadership of the School in 2018.