Feltonfleet School was founded by H.B. Jeffery and G.A. Nettleton in 1903 in Earl’s Avenue, Folkestone, the name being derived from an amalgamation of letters from each of their surnames. It began as a boys’ prep school. It then moved around the corner to ‘Stoneleigh’, a more suitable house in Shorncliffe Road in 1909.
In 1917 the school moved to Riseholme in Cobham mainly to avoid the bombs being dropped in the Folkestone area. G.A. Nettleton, who suffered from a heart complaint, left the partnership and it was not until the following year that the school moved to its present location, the neo-Gothic building erected as a private house in 1870.
In 1926 HBJ retired and handed over the reins to J.H. Percy and A. Ross Slater. Also in that year, during HBJ’s last term, the future children’s author Anthony C Wilson arrived at the School aged 9 when his fellow author Ralph Hammond Innes was Head Boy.
In 1927 Mr Slater married the matron, Miss Sackett, at St Andrew’s Church on 27th December and they built themselves a house over the road which they named ‘Calvi’. The house, after being out of the school’s ownership for several years, was bought back later for staff accommodation and is now the school’s Pre-prep department, ‘Calvi House’.
In 1931 the Percy-Slater partnership was dissolved, Percy leaving to take over another school in Suffolk, leaving Slater as Headmaster. He continued until 1936, the year in which he oversaw the completion of the Junior House, when he then retired due to ill health.
K.T. Leighton took over mid term having been released from Banstead Hall, and Mrs Slater stayed on for a while to show him the ropes. In 1938 Keith Leighton took on a partner, Bill Grundy. When war was declared in 1939 the school was moved one hundred and twenty miles to North Perrott Manor in Somerset which Leighton had surveyed and earmarked just in case. The Cobham buildings were meanwhile leased to the shipping firm of Houlder Brothers.
Paradoxically, whilst the Cobham buildings remained relatively unscathed, a string of bombs fell across North Perrott in 1940. Luckily this happened during the school holidays, no one was hurt, and thanks to the gallant assistance of the villagers, term started on time!
Feltonfleet returned to Cobham in 1946 but Mr and Mrs Grundy decided to stay on at North Perrott and start a school of their own, Perrott Hill School, which is flourishing today and with whom we have an excellent working relationship. Keith Leighton ran the school in Cobham as a boys’ boarding school with 82 boys, a number that for years hardly changed. In 1966 he formed the school into a charitable trust and, on his retirement in 1970, the Governors appointed David Rutherford as headmaster.
David and his board of Governors made many changes and the school thrived. An increase in numbers resulted in many building changes being made, including the addition of the Keith Leighton Memorial Hall, the Squash Courts, the Music Block, the Five-a-Side Courts and others. David and his wife Anne retired to the coast in 1991 and David Cherry became the new Headmaster.
David together with his wife Elizabeth steered the School through the very difficult period of the early 90’s recession and in spite of everything was able to open ‘Calvi House Nursery and Pre-Prep’ in 1994. The Main School then became co-educational in 1995 and in his last term, in 1999, the new Sports Centre ‘The Bourne Hall’ was opened.
David was succeeded by Philip Ward, who joined the school from Uppingham, where he was the Housemaster. Together with his wife, Sue (who was to become Assistant Head, Lower School) they oversaw a raft of changes and developments over a period of twelve years that have made Feltonfleet a thriving premier league Prep School.
Their dedicated service and leadership ensured that the school is now fully co-educational and maintains around 400 pupils. Numbers are buoyant, scholarship results the best ever and there are waiting lists in several year groups. The school has embraced a flexible approach to boarding and further modernised and expanded its facilities. In 2002 the Millennium Classroom Block was opened, closely followed by a refurbishment of the 15m indoor swimming pool complex, a new floodlit astroturf pitch, an extension to the playing fields, a treehouse classroom and wonderful landscaped play areas. In 2011 the school’s 5-year development programme was unveiled, ‘Towards 2020’, with its innovative emphasis on Learning, Living and Leading in all areas of the school. The Wards left us in August 2012 for pastures new but left an impressive legacy.
The new Headmaster, Alastair Morrison, joined us from Fettes Prep School in Edinburgh, with his wife and three young daughters. Under his leadership, Feltonfleet has gone from strength to strength. Early in 2015 we opened the new Performing Arts Centre, The Ashbee Centre, providing state-of-the-art facilities for Drama, Dance and Music, featuring a 250 seat auditorium and dedicated Dance Studio. “Beyond 2020” was launched in 2016 building on the previous programme, with plans for further development of the site to include a specialist Music School, new Science labs and improved facilities for Design & Technology, Art and Digital Learning.
As we approach our 100th year in Cobham we are preparing for the next exciting phase. The Morrisons are heading back to Edinburgh in January 2018 and our current Deputy Head, Shelley Lance, who joined the school in April 2010, will take over the headship and make our next piece of history as the very first Headmistress of Feltonfleet.