Brief outline of the history of King's Mead School

by EPG Barrett MA (Cantab), former Headmaster

In 1914 the main body of the building was completed and the nucleus of the school moved from Hamilton House nearby (then a school called St David's) in Belgrave Road to the new premises expressly designed to take up to 60 boys of preparatory school age (namely 8 to 14 years) as boarders.

The design of the school is said to have been based on the King's College Choir School, Cambridge where Mr CE Whelon, the first Headmaster of King's Mead had taught (and, by coincidence, where I myself was a chorister from 1930-1935).

Additions to the buildings were made from time to time as the years passed and the number of pupils increased. These included the Headmaster's private quarters, the Library, an extension to the dining room, the Chapel, the gymnasium with stage and carpenter's shop with the Sick Wing over the gym, additional classrooms and new changing rooms - also staff cottages and bungalows in the grounds and "Boundary House". Amenities added over the years included a tuck shop, a swimming pool, two cricket pavilions, a hard tennis court, model yacht sailing pond, roller skating area, a rifle range, a sandpit, boy's gardens, science room History room, model trains room, and music room. The playing fields were extensive and amounted to nearly 10 acres of ground in front of the school buildings.

In 1918 Mr Whelon retired and handed over the school and Headmastership to Mr DLS Shilcock in whose hands the school went from strength to strength right up to the outbreak of war in 1939 when it moved temporarily to safer pastures near Bideford in Devon. In the meantime the premises were occupied by a Convent until the school returned to Seaford in 1945. Douglas Shilcock remained Headmaster for 33 years retiring in 1951 when my wife and I arrived on the scene with Mr PAT Holme (MA, Oxon) as Joint Headmaster. Our aims on taking over were to maintain the excellent reputation the school had won over the years for the physical and spiritual welfare and happiness of all its boys, and also to try to raise the scholastic standards at a time when admission to the country's Public Schools was becoming increasingly competitive and, together with this, to improve the school's competence on the games field which had become part of the school's life. In time we had a scholarship record to be proud of and a reputation for success in helping the less academically gifted over the hurdle of Common Entrance Examination.

Mr Holme retired as Joint Headmaster in 1961 in order to take up a similar appointment at Horris Hill School, near Newbury following the sudden demise of one of the partners there. I continued as Headmaster and appointed as Assistant Headmaster Mr MP Rawlins who was on the staff at the time.

During the next 20 years most of the many independent schools in Seaford faced severe economic problems and were forced to close. It was no longer possible for the smaller school (King's t 80 boys in 1960) to pay its way and at the same time to equip itself to meet the revolution in educational methods at that time taking place. Sadly it was decided that the best alternative for us was to amalgamate, if only partially, with another school geographically better situated and with similar aims and status. In September 1968 a number of King's Mead boys joined Stoke Brunswick School near East Grinstead , and the school premises in Seaford were sold.

King's Mead School Chapel: addenda to the account of the Chapel in the Chapel Register

The Chapel was dedicated by the Bishop of St Alban's on March 12th 1927.

The organ was built by Messrs Gray and Davison for a Jesuit College in Canterbury. It was brought to King's Mead in 1930 and dedicated by the Rt Rev Bishop H Russell Wakefield DD (former Bishop of Birmingham).

The rugs on the floor of the chapel (which may not still be there) were made by the boys and staff.

Following the restoration of the organ in 1964, the organ and some memorial tablets were dedicated by the Right Rev Bishop GH Warde (Bishop of Lewes).

As stated on the Memorial to Douglas Shilcock: "This chapel is his inspiration"

The School Dining Room

The panelling in the school dining room gives a complete record of all the boys who entered King's Mead. Those whose names are over-painted in gold leaf won scholarships or exhibitions to the Public Schools or gained Entrance to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. A gold cross beside a name denotes "killed in action".

Among the names of interest are:-

Harry Llewellyn OBE of show jumping and "Foxhunter" fame. Geoffrey Keyes VC MC, elder of two sons at King's Mead of Admiral Keyes. JV Fisher DSC son of Admiral Lord Fisher, the son of Lord Trenchard of RAF and Police fame, Princes Nicholas and Andrew von Preussen, Prince Ronald F Mutebi, (son of "King Freddie") now the Kabaka of Buganda and V Mahidol, the Crown Prince of Thailand.

Also recorded in gold on the upper panelling were the winners of the various Sports Trophies.

The Library was partly made in the school carpentry shop by masters and boys, but some of it is genuinely old and was picked up at auction sales. The Library itself contained several thousand volumes and was available by all boys in their free time.

The King's Mead Visitor's Books (which are in my keeping) bear witness to the presence of many notable personalities at King's Mead including King George V and Queen Mary on March 21st 1935, the Kabaka of Buganda on the 17th March 1967 and the present King and Queen of Thailand and their children on the 24th July 1966

EPG Barrett MA (Cantab) May 1989

Letter from the Headmaster announcing the closure of the school


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