About Us > History of the School
Reedham Park School has long been affectionately known as “The Little School at the End of the Lane”.
The original premises, which consisted only of the main hall, known as the “Big Room”, had previously served as a stable, before becoming the original St Barnabas Church (now situated in Higher Drive).
The first service was held there on Christmas Day, 1910.
Reedham Park School, painting by Pat Tucker 1979
In the 1920s Mrs Taylor used the premises to run a preparatory school. When she decided to give up, interest was expressed by a Miss Pick (for whom Miss Routledge was working) to run a drama school, with Miss Routledge looking after the academic side. The deal fell through as there was no living accommodation.
However, encouraged by Mr and Mrs Smith (the parents of a college friend of Miss Routledge), she took the bull by the horns and made the necessary legal and financial arrangements to take the school on single-handedly. So it was, in the summer of 1932, Miss Routledge opened Reedham Park Preparatory School with an initial roll of just twelve pupils.
Miss Routledge (r) and Mrs Smith, early 1930s
Miss Routledge quickly established the strong principles and routines (many of which still exist today) and the little school prospered and thrived, with Miss Routledge teaching in the Big Room and sleeping in the tiny adjacent kitchen.
The school continued throughout World War II, and numbers began to grow again in the 1950s, when Miss Routledge was also able to purchase the Kindergarten building following the death of Mr Betts, the original owner of the premises.
Additional buildings were added over time and the playing field (originally two tennis courts) was bequeathed to the school by a neighbour, Lady Bowyer, in memory of her late husband Sir Eric.
Registry of Admission Miss Routledge 1932
Gradually over the years the face of the school has changed, but its spirit and traditions have remained unaltered. Its idyllic setting gives it an air of harmony with nature in which generations of children have been stimulated and stretched intellectually, resulting in the consistently outstanding results still enjoyed by the pupils today.
Miss Routledge was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for her Services to Education, receiving it from the Prince of Wales at an Investiture in March 1994.
When she finally retired in 1997 at the grand age of 92, she chose Ms Louise Shaw to succeed her as Headmistress.
Ms Shaw taught at the school for 34 years, 19 years of which she was also the Head, before retiring in July 2016.
Miss Routledge with her MBE outside Buckingham Palace, accompanied by Ms Shaw (l) and Mrs Ordoyno, 1994
It is a unique little school and long may it continue!