Woodbridge School

Coordinates: 52°5′43″N 1°18′23″E / 52.09528°N 1.30639°E / 52.09528; 1.30639

Woodbridge School
Motto Pro Deo Rege Patria
("For God, king and country")
Established 1557
1662 (Re-founded)
Type Independent day and boarding school
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Neil Tetley
Chaplain Padre
Head of Prep School John Brett
Location Woodbridge
Local authority Suffolk
DfE number 935/6054
Students 920~
Gender Coeducational
Ages 4–18

Red, Blue

Former pupils Old Woodbridgians
Website www.woodbridge.suffolk.sch.uk

Woodbridge School is an independent school in Woodbridge, Suffolk, England, founded in 1577, for the poor of Woodbridge. It was later supported by the Seckford Foundation. Woodbridge School has been co-educational since September 1974. The school today consists of Queen's House (pre-prep), The Abbey (prep) and the main school (ages 11–18).


The school was founded in 1577; however, like so many others, it lapsed during the Civil War. In 1662 Robert Marryott, known as ‘the great eater’, hosted a feast for local worthies in Woodbridge which started at the Crown Hotel and finished at the King’s Head in Woodbridge. From this feast came the reincarnation of the school which today enjoys the curious claim of being the only independent school in the country to have been founded in two public houses.

The Free School, Woodbridge, was an expression of the new confidence in England following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Local citizens contributed to the founding of the school in 1662, appointing a headmaster on an annual salary of £25 to teach, without charge, ten ‘sons of the meaner sort of the inhabitants of the town’.[1] Additional pupils paid an annual fee of £1.

After a difficult start, including the ravages of the plague in 1666, the School flourished and enjoyed a glorious era in the eighteenth century when the East Anglian gentry enrolled their sons in great numbers. By the mid-nineteenth century, the cramped School building was proving inadequate and in 1861 the school integrated with the Seckford Trust, an almshouse charity, becoming a part beneficiary of an endowment left to the town of Woodbridge in 1587 by Thomas Seckford, Master of the Court of Requests to Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1864 the school moved from the centre of town to its present site with 45 acres (180,000 m2) of wooded grounds overlooking Woodbridge on the site of the former Augustine Woodbridge Priory.[2]

The intervening years have seen Woodbridge School develop into one of the top independent schools in the east of the country. In 1974 the school became fully co-educational and today thrives with over 950 pupils attending its three schools.

Despite an early low point in 1847 when the townspeople boarded up their windows because of the threat of the ‘disruptive behaviour of the scholars’, the Woodbridge town has always been aware of the role the school plays in the local community.

For much of the 20th century the school comprised a mixture of boarders and day boys. The boarding houses were Tallents (for first year pupils), Marryot, School and Queen's. The day houses – effectively just meeting rooms – were Annott, Burwell and Seckford. The school first admitted girls in 1974.

The school

The school is a co-educational school with a boarding component. It offers GCSE, IGCSE and AS/A Level examinations. The day pupil body is divided into four houses, Annott, Burwell, Seckford and Willard. There are an additional two houses: for boarders, the School House; and for Year 7, Junior House. The school is next to the local state school Farlingaye High School. Queen's House is the pre-prep division of the School (from Reception to Year 2) and The Abbey is the prep school, for Years 3–6. It is planned that soon Queens House and The Abbey will merge in coming years. The school's music activities include.[3] a symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, chamber choir and choral society as well as smaller ensembles. Student musicians have been members of regional and national ensembles including the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. There is a professional theatre, the Seckford Theatre.

Woodbridge School is one of three schools in England to employ a full-time grandmaster chess teacher.

Woodbridge School also hosts a Combined Cadet Force.

Woodbridge School also has a LAMDA department, where students can have individual or group lessons in Public Speaking, Acting, Verse and Pros, etc. And usually take exams in the Summer term.


Sport is a major feature of life at Woodbridge. There are playing fields including cricket squares, a heated sports dome with gym facilities, Astro turf for either tennis or hockey, an athletics track, rugby and hockey pitches. Boys and Girls have two compulsory games sessions a week lasting one hour and one and a half hours. They must participate in the main game of the term in the lower school but from year 11 boys and girls have a choice of Games.

During the Michaelmas term, the sport curriculum is dominated by Rugby Union for boys and hockey for girls. During the Lent term hockey is the main game. During Trinity (summer) term, there is a more relaxed atmosphere with cricket being the main sport as well as athletics. Pupils also enjoy the occasional game of rounders or other games such as baseball and handball.

Other sports include sailing (which takes place at the nearby River Deben), riding, fencing, badminton, football, golf, netball, rowing, swimming, tennis, shooting and windsurfing.

Friday Afternoons

From Year 9 onwards, on a Friday afternoon, students have a choice of joining the CCF (Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force sections), the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme (or both) or honing their skills in the many different sports, arts, music, and other activities available at Woodbridge.

Notable Old Woodbridgians

Notable staff


  • Revd. Robert Stephenson (1662)
  • Revd. Thomas Dockinge (1663–1665)
  • Revd. Edmund Brome (1665–1667)
  • Revd. Simon Wells (1666–1667)
  • Revd. Edward Beeston (1667–1669)
  • Revd. Frederick Woodall (1669–1670)
  • Revd. Philip Candler (1670–1689)
  • Revd. Philip Candler (1689–1703)
  • Revd. William Cayte (1703–1709)
  • Revd. Samuel Leedes (1709–1727)
  • Revd. John Blyth (1727–1736)
  • Revd. Thomas Ray (1736–1774)
  • Revd. Robert Dyer (1774–1800)
  • Revd. John Black (1800–1806)
  • Revd. William Barker (1806–1813)
  • Revd. John Clarryvince (1813–1822)
  • Revd. William Fletcher (1822–1832)
  • Revd. Christopher Crofts (1832–1836)
  • Revd. Woodthorpe Collet (1836–1841)
  • Revd. Thomas Hughes (1841–1847)
  • Revd. Postle Jackson (1847–1865)
  • Revd. William Tate (1865–1874)
  • Revd. James Russell Wood (1874–1894)
  • Revd. Philip Tuckwell (1894–1900)
  • Walter Madeley (1900–1913)
  • R. Kennard-Davis (1913–1921)
  • Canon Dudley Symon (1921–1947)
  • Eric Ayres (1947–1965)
  • John Rolland (1965–1979)
  • Frederick Vyvyan-Robinson (1979–1986)
  • Dr. David Younger (1986–1994)
  • Stephen Cole (1994–2014)
  • Neil Tetley (2014 onwards)


  1. Woodbridge School History
  2. The Abbey (Junior School), Woodbridge, British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
  3. Woodbridge School
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