Unlike its parent school which has had just two locations in more than 400 years, Blundell’s Preparatory School, despite being less than 100 years old, has existed on three different sites. It began its life on Canal Hill at no. 6 St Aubyn’s Villas, hence its original and long-enduring name of St Aubyn’s School. Harold Stephen-Evans and his wife, opened the School on the 6th May 1929 to 15 boys.
Harold Stephen-Evans remained as Headmaster through the 1930s until 1943, having sent more than 50 boys on to Blundell’s, among them Commander Joe Blake (a son of the original owner of the St Aubyn’s houses), the man who was given the responsibility of restoring the S.S. Great Britain, and John Nelder, the internationally-renowned statistician. The new Headmaster was Percy Tatton-Tatton, a man more at home in the Royal Fusiliers. His stay was not long: by 1947 Desmond Harmar-Smith was listed as the Headmaster, and in that year the school moved to Howden Court, just off the Tiverton-to-Exeter road.
Life was idyllic for the dayboys and 20 boarders in the spacious surroundings of Howden Court. Sports Days saw keen competition between the three houses of Howden, School, and Ashley, and an innovation was introduced in 1952 when the main sport in the Autumn and Spring terms changed from football to rugby. Also at about this time, the music master, Mr. Read, composed the School Hymn ‘Life Is Before Me.’
In 1980 girls were admitted, initially only as day pupils. Just three years later the Hernimans purchased the Redvers House Pre-Prep School, which catered for children from 4 to 8 years of age, and re-opened it at Howden. Girls were taken as boarders from 1987.
In 2000 St Aubyn’s was moved to the Blundell’s campus. Its new home was centred on Milestones, formerly the Blundell’s Hospital and a Day-Boys house, which was enlarged and new buildings erected on Mayfield. In the following year, Brian McDowell was succeeded as Headmaster by Nick Folland, who had taught P.E. and Geography at Blundell’s since 1989.
In 2006, after 77 years, St Aubyn’s Preparatory School was renamed Blundell’s Preparatory School. This year also saw the construction of a Wildlife Area and Pond which added immensely to Science and other lessons as well as Conservation Club. In Autumn 2006 the new refurbished Pre-Prep was opened providing increased space and purpose built classrooms for our three to seven year olds.
Autumn 2008 saw an extension to the Prep Building increasing the building by a third. Dedicated Food Technology, Design Technology, Art and a larger Hall were among some of the major changes.
A change in Head Master came in Autumn 2011 with the arrival of Andy Southgate who moved with his family from South Oxfordshire. Among many new innovations came the emphasis on Outdoor Learning. ‘The Hub’ was constructed in 2013 creating a focal point for lessons outside and a state of the art Dance Studio.