Our story

Abbotsholme School has a wonderful history dating back to 1889 and since then its aim has been to prepare its pupils for the whole of life by giving them a balanced education through a strong academic curriculum and an extensive range of co-curriculum activities; and where everyone – pupils and staff – are encouraged to do their best. Although we are committed to helping all Abbotsholmians fulfil their academic potential, the measure of our success cannot be judged by scholarly achievements alone. Indeed, it is their development as people that must be seen as the ultimate test. An education at Abbotsholme provides not only the starting blocks but it also propels each individual through the start of life outside Abbotsholme.

You can read all about it below or watch a film written by a former OA.

Click here to watch a film about the history of the School written and produced by Matt Fletcher OA


Abbotsholme School was founded in 1889 by Dr Cecil Reddie a Scottish academic who wanted to provide a modern, progressive education. 

Reddie's first School aims stated, 'The bracing upland climate and the varied scenery, the great expanse of wild moors, and the comparative remoteness of the nearest towns, will guarantee to the scholars the health and freedom of a country life, which are now becoming daily harder to secure.'



By 1899, Abbotsholme had 61 pupils. Parents were attracted to Abbotsholme's core aims which include: knowledge to help everyone achieve and succeed to their individual academic ability, an understanding of the environment, challenges to build strength and test courage, as well as be a stimulating and enjoyable experience, and a cultural enrichment to widen perspective and a responsibility to others in our global world.



20 years on, and with many new facilities including the Chapel, kitchens, and dormitories, the School was thriving. 

Throughout this period, the School rules were written including: 'Rules regardng unpacking at the beginning of term', 'The educative merits of bathing', and 'How the earth-cabinets are to be used'!

Dr Cecil Reddie teaching at Abbotsholme



Abbotsholme lost some pupils during the Great War, forever remembered in Chapel. Reddie placed William Blake's head in the Chapel and others - great thinkers, writers, scholars, and men of action, including Nelson, Shakespeare, Dante, Ruskin, Cromwell - to act as role models for Abbotsholme pupils to emulate. Blakes influence is clear with The Radiant Lover in Chapel, and 'Glad Day, Love and Duty.'



The Old Abbotsholmians (OAs) were incredibly financially supportive during these years as the School felt the effects of the Great War. Through their support Cecil Reddie - whose health was deteriorating - was persusded to give over the leadership to Mr Colin Sharp, whilst Reddie was made Emeritus Warden of the School.  

Teaching science at Abbotsholme in the orginal science classrooms.



Cecil Reddie died during this period and he was brought back to Abbotsholme to be buried overlooking the School he founded.

It was a great decade for the School as numbers picked up, and Hikes and camps became a part of the School calendar. New facilities were also built including a new library, Headmaster's Study, dormitories, studies for Sixth Formers, a gymnasium, a workhop and new laboratories. 



During the war, camps took place as usual, with the addition of the A.T.C camp. Activities within the School thrived during this period, which is still a key part of the Abbotsholme educational offering. New additions were also made to the facilities including the new wing to the Sanatorium in 1942. 



A new Headmaster took over during this period called Robin Hodgkin who was a keen climber, and his low key and enthusiastic approach to education was a great part of this decade.



David Snell, who joined Abbotsholme during this decade, brought in co-education at Abbotsholme in 1969 supporting St Vincent's Girls School that was about to close, and thirty girls joined the school.

The Abbotsholme Arts Society was created in the 60's (which continues to this day) and they have welcomed a number of distinguished musicians over the years.



This was the decade of great change, and of the building of a great number of facilities. 

The farm was revitalised, the Colin Sharp music block was built, Cedarholme  was offically opened, and new staff houses on the drive were built. Flaxfield was opened, and a new Art Block finished. 



We joined Round Square during this decade, built Orchard Boarding House for girls boarding, and opened the Cecil Reddie Sports Hall on our 100th anniversary.

Mr Malcolm Robinson took over as Headmaster in 1980. He championed much academic progress. A Head of Public Relations was appointed and numbers rose to unprecedented heights. Mr Darrell Farrant then took over to continue the excellent work in growing the school.



Abbotsholme's pupil numbers grew throughout this period, and the School was in a strong position, embodying its symbol, the pentagram: a strong star with no beginning or end. 

The Star represents the human being:  The Head – aspiring to the spiritual, but rooted in earth. The Arms – one reaches out to things in creative action, one to fellow human beings. The Feet – one in the stream of time, one in the natural world of space.     Reddie Hall built to commenorate 100 years of Abbotsholme.


2000 onwards

Steve Fairclough took over the School in 2003, and the School has gone from strength to strength. A new Library, Prep School, Sixth Form boarding accomodation in the form of the Log Cabin Village, Rockholme Climbing Wall, Theatre and Learning Skills departments have been added. More recently, we have welcomed a Pre-Prep School, Sixth Form Centre, modernised Catering facilities and most importantly the Synthetic Pitch following celebrating our 125th year in 2014. 

Abbotsholme continues its revolutionary education set out over 125 years ago, and is still very much 'The New School.'


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