VIDEO: Bury prep school marks 50 years in South Downs

Celebrations have kick started in 2014 as Dorset House School sees in 50 years at its picturesque Bury location.

Described as an ‘ambitious’ and ‘forward thinking’ prep school by headteacher Richard Brown, Dorset House is nestled in the stunning backdrop of the South Downs and River Arun across 16 acres of pure countryside - a traditional setting for a contemporary education.

JPCT 070314 Dorset House School feature. In the science lab. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140703-152125001

JPCT 070314 Dorset House School feature. In the science lab. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140703-152125001

Pupils (age 3 to 13 years), staff and parents are building up to the ‘golden’ anniversary that will be marked by a number of festivities, including a Summer Ball.

A prestigious institution that advocates learning in the great outdoors, children are not afraid to get their shoes muddy as they enjoy the village’s verdant splendour.

Children are encouraged to build camps and dens in the woods and play in the adventure playground. Once a week the Forest School initiative, run by Kate Bryant, comes to teach children fun and essential outdoor activities.

“The site is wonderful and it allows children to be children,” said Mr Brown.

Formerly the Bury Manor, in 1964 parents clubbed together and raised the capital to buy the old monastery after Dorset House closed at its Littlehampton site.

In fact, the prestigious institution can be traced back to 1784 as Totteridge Park School in Hertfordshire.

“Being part of a school which is one of the oldest in the country, one has a real sense of pride.”

The 1964 class picture and a painting of headteacher at the time, Mr Hutchinson ‘Hutchie’, adorn the walls in the school’s library.

Mr Brown said there is a great sense of community in the area with a Cub Scout group using the facilities each week and the local vicar teaching the pupils RE, as well as leading the mass three times a term.

Moving forward with the times, Dorset House became co-ed five years ago and now 54 of the 140 pupils are girls. The single storey wooden classrooms were replaced by a state-of-the-art teaching block in 2003, and the music department recently became the first in the country to have a ‘Jam Pod’ music system installed – allowing children to compose, create and perform using ipads, midi keyboards and Jam Hubs.

Although looking to the future, tradition is still a sacred aspect amongst the school community with the under-nine rugby team going strong, currently unbeaten in Sussex, excellent boarding facilities and, of course, its impressive academic achievements, but Mr Brown said that Dorset House is a small school and will remain as such.

When it is time to progress from Dorset House, the school help children transition onto their next adventure.

“We work closely with parents to find the right senior schools for their children when they leave at age 13.”

To commemorate the last five decades, Dorset House will be hosting a big celebration on May 18 for all past pupils and staff to attend.

On June 14 there will also be a Summer Ball organised by the Parents Association.

To contact Dorset House School call 01798 831 456 or email