The School’s history stretches back some 65 years, covering two sites and three sets of trustees. Initially, Barrow Hills was started by the Josephites to be the preparatory school for their senior school, St George’s Weybridge. The Josephite traditions encouraged a strong sense of family where all students were valued and encouraged to fulfil their potential in an atmosphere of mutual respect and compassion. Barrow Hills was a tiny hamlet near Weybridge where the Josephites bought a grand house, Longcross, to start the school. Shortly afterwards the Ministry of Works compulsorily purchased the site for tank trials. After a summer of searching throughout Kent, Surrey and Sussex, a new property was found. In May 1952 the boarders moved to their new site at Great Roke in Witley, where the School has remained ever since.
At that time Barrow Hills was an all boys boarding prep, feeding St George’s at Weybridge, so the distance was not too inconvenient. However towards the end of 1980’s St George’s had to make changes, including becoming a co-educational day school, leaving Barrow Hills too far away to be considered practical to run together. By 1990 there was a strong possibility that Barrow Hills would close. A committee was set up to rescue the School. Barrow Hills would be an independent charity, run by Trustees, and separate from the Josephites. In a brave but necessary move Barrow Hills then too became a day school, co-educational and admitted non-Catholics. Most recently, the Governing Bodies of Barrow Hills School and King Edward’s Witley were delighted to announce a merger of the two Witley Schools’ foundations with effect from September 2015. Barrow Hills is now part of the Bridewell Royal Hospital Charity. The decision to merge made formal a close relationship that has been forged between the schools over many years and opens the way for closer ties in the future.
The Old Barrow Hillians Association was founded in 2008 and celebrated with a reunion at the School that June. It was attended by over 200 former pupils and staff who thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet old friends and to reminisce. We celebrated the school’s Diamond Jubilee in 2011 and once again attracted over 200 to Mass, followed by group photographs and lunch. The Old Barrow Hillians who attended had representatives from the very earliest intake at Great Roke in September 1952 to those who left that summer.
Old boys and girls are urged to ensure the School has their current contact details so that we can keep in touch. Old Barrow Hillians are welcome to revisit and relive their memories of their prep school days. Please contact the School Secretary on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to visit.