Windlesham House School is one of the oldest independent preparatory schools in the country. 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. However, 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 over twenty years.
Windlesham moved to its long-term ‘home’ and current location in the magnificent Queen Anne ‘Highden House’ near Washington in 1934 when Portslade also became a victim of urbanisation.
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
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.
The ‘Windlesham’ Chapel
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.
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.
Henry Charles Malden or ‘Old Harry’
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. He had, however, even before taking on the school, already guaranteed his place in history.
Whilst ‘Old Harry’ was at Trinity College Cambridge, football was a hopeless game, owing to there being no official rules. The Public Schools, who were so frequently at odds about the various rules of football, eventually sent two representatives each and Cambridge sent a further two who had not been to a Public School to Henry Malden’s college rooms where a meeting took place. 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. Henry is now often referred to as one of the ‘fathers’ of football.
Malden Family Trust
The school became an educational trust in 1963 and then four years later was the first independent preparatory boarding school to become co-educational.