19th September 2018
Barrow Hills School threw open its doors to the public for guided tours of the historic building and grounds on Saturday 15th September, for the fourth consecutive year, in a special event designed to bring local history and heritage to life. It was part of the celebrations associated with the national Heritage Open Days initiative, England’s biggest festival of history and culture in which every September some 40,000 volunteers across the country organise 5,000 events.
Visitors to Barrow Hills School were given a guided tour by Paul Crisell, Deputy Head and former pupil, who took great pride in being able to show the school and its 33-acre estate grounds to visitors and keep them entertained with stories about the origins of Barrow Hills School and its rich history. They viewed the stunning architecture within the principal school building, Great Roke, which was built as a country house in 1909 by partner architects, Buckland and Haywood, one of the leading Arts and Crafts architects firms of the Birmingham movement. The former country house has been hailed as ‘the most ambitious house undertaken by the partners and is arguably one of the finest large houses produced by the Birmingham movement’ – costing a grand total of £25,000!
The house was eventually taken on by the Josephite Fathers as an all boys’ boarding preparatory school, which later evolved into the current co-educational day school, now run by the school’s parent foundation – Bridewell Royal Hospital.
During the tour, visitors were also able to view with some of the original handiwork by the esteemed landscape garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll, although the gardens have been substantially altered in subsequent years.
Commenting after the tour, Paul Crisell said, “The Heritage Open Days at Barrow Hills are a celebration of architecture and culture, offering visitors free access to the historic school building and gardens. We have received a large number of guests at this event over the years, all of whom have benefited from the opportunity to uncover the delights of one of Surrey’s best kept secrets.”