Co-educational day and boarding house (Years 7 and 8)
House Parent Profile
Damian Marshman was appointed Housemaster for School House in 2011 and also teaches maths, rugby and hockey. He lives with his wife Katey and their two children in SH, while Kate Woolford, the Pastoral Housemistress, has a flat near the girls’ accommodation.
School House is a house at the heart of the school for Years 7 and 8, whose needs are quite different from those of older pupils. The focus of SH is entirely on these younger pupils, building their confidence and helping them learn responsibility, whilst still enabling them to enjoy being the children they are and to benefit from the facilities that older pupils enjoy.
The School House aim is to make the transition from primary school to secondary school as anxiety free as possible and then to help pupils grow, giving them solid foundations so they can go on to reach their full potential. Each pupil is assigned a tutor who looks after them academically and pastorally, monitoring progress and discussing goals, aims and targets with them on a continuing basis. Tutors work with their tutees on the School House Diploma, which helps them excel at their studies and become outstanding learners and to develop the characteristics of resilience, generosity, self-discipline and optimism.
School House is a bright and airy building with separate wings for boarding boys and girls. The shared common rooms are well equipped with televisions, X Box, table football, games, comfortable chairs and sofas to relax in, while outside is laid to astro turf for all weather play. While there is no school on Saturday for SH pupils, a wide range of activities are arranged for the boarders (which day pupils may also sometimes take part in) including coasteering, windsurfing, bowling, pony trekking and trips to adventure parks.
When Blundell’s was built in 1882 School House was not only a boarding house run by the Headmaster, A.L. Francis, but also his private residence. Initially, there were just 23 boys, but numbers grew rapidly, and in 1890 a new three-storey wing was completed, with classrooms, studies and bedrooms. School House were almost unbeatable at cricket in the early days, winning the House Cup every season from 1888 to 1892, and setting the record, still unbeaten, for a single innings – 593. One of School House’s most distinguished pupils, Sir John Collings Squire, was here from 1901 to 1903. He later became famous as a poet and editor of the New Statesman and the London Mercury.
In 1906 A.L. Francis moved into the newly-built Headmaster’s house, appointing E.G. Peirce as Housemaster. Peirce stayed for just 6 years in School House, but served Blundell’s as Master and Bursar for over 40 years. His successor as Housemaster was R. Montgomery, who saw the numbers rise steadily to over 40. He gave way in 1923 to E.C. Fisher. Two of his boarders went on to carve out successful careers for themselves; Raglan Squire (the son of Sir John Squire) became a renowned architect, and designed Blundell’s present Big School and the School’s Lady Chapel, and Michael Gilbert who found success as a lawyer and crime writer. In Fisher’s time the Headmaster’s study was moved to its present location, and its former place was made into a prep room for School House. Fisher left the house, and Blundell’s, in 1934 to get married.
Kenneth Edwards had been at Petergate as a boy, and returned in 1927 to teach Latin and English, and now replaced Fisher at School House. Stephen Spender lodged in the house for one term in 1940 while he taught at Blundell’s, and often Edwards invited the boys to pass the evening with him and his friend C. Day Lewis. During Edwards’ final year two of Blundell’s most accomplished musicians boarded in the house. Peter Hurford was to be music master at St. Alban’s Abbey and a celebrated organist, and his contemporary David Parkhouse, a pianist, was one of the founder members of the Music Group of London.
Edwards left in 1945 and joined the Old Vic, with his place as Housemaster being filled by Dr. Lloyd-Lewis, whose tenure lasted until 1958. During his time new a kitchen area was constructed and a new oil-fired heating system installed. Ted Chanter followed next. He had already completed 13 years as Housemaster of Petergate, so was well-accustomed to the task. He was a formidable force in the life of Blundell’s: a strict disciplinarian, yet full of compassion for each individual. Chanter gave way in 1971 to Brian Richards, who had arrived from industry seven years before. In the first year of Brian’s residence the house was largely remodeled, and the private accommodation reduced, bringing 44 boys into studies. In 1980 shortly after the arrival of girls, an area of School House was separated from the boys’ quarters to accommodate seven of them.
Peter Lanfear, a Modern Language teacher like Richards, took over the house in 1985, and during his stay a large number of the studies were turned into bedsits. School House became the Junior Department in 1996, with its boys and girls aged from 11 to 13 years and Dee and John Brigden as Houseparents. This new venture was a resounding success, and the Brigdens developed a strong, compassionate environment from which the younger members of Blundell’s have moved confidently and seamlessly into the senior school. The many talented youngsters of recent years have included Natalie Dew, one of the stars of the BBC series Monsters TV, and Alice Shepherd, who represented Great Britain in the Baltic Youth Games in the modern pentathlon. James Postle took over as Houseparent in 2008 and was succeeded by Damian Marshman, who moved with his wife Katey and children to School House in 2011.