Aldenham School

Aldenham School
Motto In God Is All Our Trust
Established 1597
Type Independent day and boarding
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Mr James Fowler MA Oxon.
Deputy Head Mr Andy Williams BSc Loughborough University
Chairman of Governors Mr JT Barton OA
Founder Richard Platt
Location Elstree
Coordinates: 51°39′49″N 0°19′41″W / 51.663529°N 0.328152°W / 51.663529; -0.328152
DfE URN 919/6003 Tables
Students 700
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3–18
Houses 7 houses McGill's, Paull's, Leeman's, Riding's, Kennedy's, Beevor's, Martineau's
Colours Black and Gold          
Former pupils Old Aldenhamians

Aldenham School is a co-educational independent school for pupils aged thirteen to eighteen, located between Elstree and the village of Aldenham in Hertfordshire, England. There is also a preparatory school for pupils from the ages of five to thirteen. Founded in the late sixteenth century by Richard Platt, Aldenham School is not only one of the oldest schools in Britain, but one of the oldest schools in the world.


The school was founded in 1597 by Richard Platt, a proprietor of a London brewery and Master of the Brewers' Company in 1576 and 1581. In 1596 Queen Elizabeth I granted him letters patent to build "the Free Grammar School and Almshouses" at Aldenham; the foundation stone was laid in 1597. Before Platt died in 1600 he obtained an endowment for the School by a covenant between himself and the Brewers' Company. It became a village elementary school, taking in private pupils.[1]

In the early 19th century an investigation by the Education Charities Commission of the Poor led to the Tudor Grammar School being demolished and replaced by two new schools: a lower school providing an elementary education for the local population, and a grammar school for fee paying boarders.[2]

In the 1860s, the Platt estate in St Pancras, London, which provided the endowment of the school, was compulsorily purchased for the construction of St Pancras railway station. In a measure described by the headmaster of the time as "a violent act of confiscation", more than half of the £81,000 paid in compensation was diverted by the Charity Commissioners, acting under the Endowed Schools Act 1869. In the scheme approved in 1875, £20,000 went to the North London Collegiate School and Camden School for Girls, £13,333/6/8d to support secondary education in Watford (see Watford Grammar School for Boys), and £8000 to elementary schools at Medburn (serving Radlett) and Delrow (serving Aldenham).[2]

The school has expanded and girls have been admitted throughout, thus paving the way for the school to become fully co-educational.

In November 2000 a new music school was opened by Dame Janet Baker. In September 2005 the new English and Languages classroom block was opened, housing 10 classrooms and 4 offices. These include a generously equipped Language Laboratory and custom-designed Media Studies suite.

The renovation of the theatre was completed in 2007. The modernisation and improvements included a new control room, racked seating and classroom, with an extension built to accommodate learning support with five new tuition rooms, which also double up as dressing room during major productions. Several thousand pounds have also been used to purchase brand new technical equipment for the theatre, including new lanterns, digital effect lights, a followspot and a new sound system.

A major upgrade to Kennedy’s boarding house in 2008 converted the ground floor to allow Martineau’s house (years 7 & 8) to move in, and make room for more younger students to board should they wish to.

Maintaining, and where necessary, developing the facilities of the School are central to the school's strategy. The objectives are to improve facilities for existing and future pupils through a programme of new build and redevelopment of existing buildings and to achieve this some reallocation of use will be necessary. The first part of the plan to build an Estates and Storage building took place during 2010. This has freed up the current Maintenance building and development of this at the end of 2010 allowed the School Shop to relocate to this area close to the main car park, making it more accessible to parents and also providing additional Music and Dance facilities for the Prep School.

A new Sixth Form Centre was opened in 2012 providing study and recreation facilities for Sixth Formers under one roof, making better use of a high profile building in the heart of the School and linking the new building to the Music School to allow better use of the Music School Recital Room, including making it available for public performances. The new building also provides Music and Sixth Form teaching facilities as well as enhanced meeting facilities.

In addition to major projects the School has a rolling programme of planned maintenance and investment in facilities in classrooms, boarding and day Houses, the Prep School, other buildings and sports surfaces together with the supporting infrastructure on the School campus. This formed part of a Vision 2013 plan approved by the Governors.

In the summer of 2016, massive restorations were carried out on Beevor's and McGill's House, improving and updating the boarding facilities.

Due to the increasing amount of girls in Aldenham's intake, as of September 2017, Riding's House will become a girls day house.


In 1997, Aldenham celebrated its 400th anniversary, or Quatercentenary, which led to what was known at 'The 400 Appeal' being established. Through different events the appeal aimed to raise as much money as possible, to help the school expand ready for the 21st century.

The Quatercentenary began with a launch party with fireworks and a re-enactment of Richard Platt receiving the letters patent from Elizabeth I to build the school. The guest for the evening was Cilla Black.

There was also an OA Reunion Day and a 'Festival of the Car', along with a football match: Aldenham vs Watford F.C.

The school was also visited during the year by HRH The Princess Royal, who came to open the new artificial turf pitch that had been built as a result of money raised by the appeal.


Sport has long been major part of the extracurricular activities at the school. In 1825 Aldenham became the second place, after Eton College, to write down rules for its code of football.[3] The Good Schools Guide called Aldenham "A seriously sporty school", as well as "Intensely competitive."[4]


Beevor's House c.1910
McGill's House

Aldenham has six senior houses and one junior house. The three oldest houses – McGill's (gold), Beevor's (red) and Paull's (sky blue) – are each named after their first Housemaster. They were joined in 1962 by Kennedy's (orange). Today McGill's, Beevor's and Kennedy's accommodate boarding boys. Leeman's (pink) and Riding's (blue) were created in 1991 from the Evens and Odds parts of the former School House to cater for day boys. Since the school became coeducational in 2003, Paull's (sky blue) has been the house of all senior girls, whether day or boarding. A Paull's Annexe was opened in September 2012 to accommodate Sixth Form Day girls. All pupils in years 7 and 8 belong to Martineau's (green), which is divided into six tutor groups: Beck, Elliot, Griffin, Mason, Neale and Swayne.[5]

Arts and culture

Aldenham was used to film additional interior scenes in the 1968 classic British film If...., starring Malcolm McDowell and directed by Lindsay Anderson. The most frequently used room was the main school Dining Room containing the portrait of Aldenham's founder Richard Platt. However, most of the filming occurred at the independent school Cheltenham College in the spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, which was the alma mater of the film's director.


Prior to 1824, before the school was rebuilt, the Headmaster was known as the Master:

Notable Old Aldenhamians


  1. William Page (ed.) (1908). "Aldenham". A History of the County of Hertford: volume 2. Victoria County History. pp. 149–161. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  2. 1 2 R.J. Evans; J.K. Waddell (1969). The History and Register of Aldenham School (10th ed.). Aylesbury: Hazel Watson & Viney.
  3. Richard William Cox; Dave Russell; Wray Vamplew (2002). Encyclopedia of British Football. Routledge. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-7146-5249-8.
  4. Aldenham School, The Good Schools Guide.
  5. "The House System". Aldenham School. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  6. Blackhurst, Chris (5 December 2007). "Playing to his strengths, the Beverly Hills Brit who's a self-help god". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 11 February 2015.

External links

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