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History of Warwick Prep

In A.D. 914 Ethelfleda, the daughter of King Alfred the Great, founded a school for boys in Warwick. This was a Grammar School until 1545 when King Henry VIII abolished the old religious establishment but granted most of its assets back to the town in the form of his Charity and renamed the Grammar School “The King’s New School”.

In 1875 the King’s Schools’ Foundation was set up and, instead of just one grammar school for boys, a senior school for girls was established. In 1879 the boys' school was re-housed in purpose built accommodation on the Myton Road and the King's High School for Girls was set up in Landor House on Smith Street. In 1887 a junior department was set up and this was the start of what eventually became Warwick Preparatory School. 

A lesson in Landor House in 1897

Girls (and a few boys) were admitted from around the age of five and they were taught in small classes until they were old enough to join King's High at the age of eleven. The boys transferred to the Junior Department of Warwick School at the age of seven, as they still do today.

The class of 1912.  Note the very smart sailor-suit uniforms worn by the boys!

A rare photograph of the Reception (then known as 'Kindergarten'') in 1933.

In 1944 Warwick Preparatory School was run separately from King's High as a result of the 1944 Education Act, although it remained in the same buildings adjacent to King’s High School.  In 1966, Warwick Prep's headmistress retired and, once again, the school became part of the Warwick (King’s) Schools’ Foundation.

In 1970 a serious fire at the school in The Butts (allegedly caused  by fireworks accidentally set off by choirboys from St Mary's Church on bonfire night) hastened a planned move to the Bridge Field site on the Banbury Road. From the ashes of the old school a new and vibrant school grew over the years in terms of numbers, facilities and reputation.

Now the three schools, Warwick School, The King’s High School for Girls and Warwick Preparatory School are jointly administered by Governors of the Warwick Independent Schools Foundation - three schools with very different histories, but united in excellence.

Development in more recent years

  • 6 November 1971 - Lord Radcliffe, Chancellor of the University of Warwick officially opened the new buildings on the Bridge Field Site. 
  • 1983 - Two new Reception classrooms. 
  • 1986 - Lower School Assembly Hall added.
  • 1987 - Administration Block and staff room built.
  • 13 January 1989  - New Nursery Building opened by Miss Smalley (the first Headmistress).
  • 5 July 1990 - The Hogan Centre - Science, Art and Technology classrooms opened by Princess Anne.
  • 19 June 1992 -  Bridge Sports Centre opened.
  • 1995 - Ten Lower School classrooms built to replace original six classes.
  • 1997 - The Allibon Centre opened  – Maths, ICT, and Upper 1 classrooms.
  • 2005  - New Dining Hall opened.
  • 2014  - Nursery Extension completed to include an extra classroom, toilets and canopies.

The original Squirrels badge and its more modern version worn by today's Squirrels

The original emblem of the newly independent school in 1944 was of a squirrel gathering acorns from the oak tree.  It was a symbol for a young child gathering knowledge. 

The badge later evolved and was adapted in 1994 to include a portcullis to link the ancient town of Warwick and with the other two schools in the Foundation.

The squirrel that features on the school crest explains the reason why locally the school is so often referred to as 'Squirrels'.  The pupils of Warwick Prep are also known as 'Squirrels' and very proud to be so they are too!

References and picture credits: "Acorns, Oaks and Squirrels", "She Dyed About Midnight" and "Kings of Warwick" by Jean Field.