Windlesham House School is one of the oldest independent preparatory schools in the country and the first independent preparatory boarding school to become co-educational.
The school was founded under a different name in 1837 on the Isle of Wight by Lieutenant Charles Robert Malden, who founded and began running the school with guidance from Masters at the prestigious Rugby School in Warwickshire.
After nine years, Malden decided to move the school from the Isle of Wight to a more urban setting in Norfolk Terrace in Brighton close to the popular tourist resort.
When Brighton and Hove grew during the early 20th century and the area became more urbanised, the school moved to a new location in the countryside near Portslade in 1913 for twenty years. However Portslade soon fell victim to urbanisation too and so Windlesham moved again in 1934 to its long-term ‘home’ and current location in the magnificent Queen Anne ‘Highden House’ near Washington, West Sussex.
During World War Two, the evacuation of children took the school temporarily to Somerset and then the Lake District, before returning to Highden in 1945 for the final time. The children have now been boarding in Highden House for seventy years without disruption.
The school’s name has no relationship with its location. It became known as ‘Windlesham’ from 1846 onwards when the school’s founder, Charles Robert Malden, married the daughter of a vicar based in Windlesham, Surrey.
Throughout the first 157 years of its existence, Windlesham remained in the hands of five generations of the same family, until the retirement, in 1994, of the second Mr and Mrs Charles, Charles and Elizabeth Ann Malden.
The school now has its own beautiful theatre, named in honour of the Malden family.
Our previous Headmaster Richard Foster and his wife Rachel have recently retired after 13 years at Windlesham, succeeded by Ben Evans who arrived with his wife Alex and two children to take up the headship in September 2020.
Henry Charles Malden, the second Windlesham House Headmaster, affectionately known to his pupils as ‘Old Harry’, was the eldest son of the founder and ran the school from 1855 to 1888.
However even before taking on the school Henry had already guaranteed his place in history by helping to draw up the first rules of football!
A ‘Father’ Of Football
The story goes that whilst Henry was at Trinity College Cambridge football was a hopeless game because there were no official rules.
A meeting was duly called in… Henry Malden’s college rooms! It was attended by representatives from the Public Schools, who were so frequently at odds about the various rules of football, and by two representatives of Cambridge who had not been to a Public School.
At this momentous gathering the Cambridge Football Rules were drawn up and the large majority of these were later to be taken on formally by the Association of Football. As a result Henry Malden is now often referred to as one of the ‘fathers’ of football!
In 1896, the then Heads, the first Mr and Mrs Charles, were visiting Oxford and discovered that St Martin’s Church at Carfax was being demolished.
With Windlesham in need of a Chapel, they stopped the demolition and brought as much of the Chapel as possible back to Sussex.
So, leaving Carfax Tower to stand alone as it still does today, most of the remainder of the building was re-erected in Brighton, where it was re-dedicated in 1897 as All Saints’ Chapel.
That chapel moved again with the school in 1913 and once more in 1934 to its final location where it can be found at the heart of the Windlesham of today.
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