Aldenham School

Aldenham School is a co-educational independent school for pupils aged eleven to eighteen, located between Elstree and the village of Aldenham in Hertfordshire, England. There is also a preparatory school for pupils from the ages of five to eleven. It was founded in the late sixteenth century by Richard Platt.

Aldenham School
AldenhamSchool Crest.JPG
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Coordinates51°39′49″N 0°19′41″W / 51.663529°N 0.328152°W / 51.663529; -0.328152Coordinates: 51°39′49″N 0°19′41″W / 51.663529°N 0.328152°W / 51.663529; -0.328152
TypeIndependent day and boarding
MottoIn God Is All Our Trust
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1597; 424 years ago (1597)
FounderRichard Platt
Department for Education URN117602 Tables
Chairman of GovernorsMr JT Barton OA
HeadmasterMr James Fowler MA Oxon.
PrincipalMr Andy Williams BSc Loughborough University
Age3 to 18
Houses7 houses McGill's, Paull's, Leeman's, Riding's, Kennedy's, Beevor's, Martineau's
Colour(s)Black and Gold    
Former pupilsOld Aldenhamians


The school was founded in 1597 by Richard Platt, a proprietor of a London brewery and Master of the Brewers' Company in 1576 and 1581. In 1596 Queen Elizabeth I granted him letters patent to build "the Free Grammar School and Almshouses" at Aldenham; the foundation stone was laid in 1597. Before Platt died in 1600 he obtained an endowment for the School by a covenant between himself and the Brewers' Company. It became a village elementary school, taking in private pupils.[1]

In the early 19th century an investigation by the Education Charities Commission of the Poor led to the Tudor Grammar School being demolished and replaced by two new schools: a lower school providing an elementary education for the local population, and a grammar school for fee paying boarders.[2]

In the 1860s, the Platt estate in St Pancras, London, which provided the endowment of the school, was compulsorily purchased for the construction of St Pancras railway station. In a measure described by the headmaster of the time as "a violent act of confiscation", more than half of the £91,000 paid in compensation was diverted by the Charity Commissioners, acting under the Endowed Schools Act 1869. In the scheme approved in 1875, £20,000 went to the North London Collegiate School and Camden School for Girls, £13,333/6/8d to support secondary education in Watford (see Watford Grammar School for Boys), £10,000 to Russell Lane (later Southaw School, eventually subsumed into Ashmole), and £8000 to elementary schools at Medburn (serving Radlett) and Delrow (serving Aldenham).[2]

The school has expanded and girls have been admitted throughout, thus paving the way for the school to become fully co-educational.

A new Sixth Form Centre was opened in 2012 providing study and recreation facilities for Sixth Formers under one roof.

In the summer of 2016, massive restorations were carried out on Beevor's and McGill's House, improving and updating the boarding facilities.

Owing to the increasing number of girls in Aldenham's intake, as of September 2017, Riding's House will become a girls day house.


In 1997, Aldenham celebrated its 400th anniversary, or Quatercentenary, which led to what was known at 'The 400 Appeal' being established. Through different events the appeal aimed to raise as much money as possible, to help the school expand ready for the 21st century.

The Quatercentenary began with a launch party with fireworks and a re-enactment of Richard Platt receiving the letters patent from Elizabeth I to build the school. The guest for the evening was Cilla Black.

There was also an OA Reunion Day and a 'Festival of the Car', along with a football match: Aldenham vs Watford F.C.

The school was also visited during the year by The Princess Royal, who came to open the new artificial turf pitch that had been built as a result of money raised by the appeal.


Sport has long been major part of the extracurricular activities at the school. In 1825 Aldenham became the second place, after Eton College, to write down rules for its code of football.[3] The Good Schools Guide called Aldenham "A seriously sporty school", as well as "Intensely competitive."[4]


Beevor's House c.1910
McGill's House

Aldenham has six senior houses and two junior houses. The three oldest houses – McGill's (gold), Beevor's (red) and Paull's (sky blue) – are each named after their first Housemaster. They were joined in 1962 by Kennedy's (orange). Today McGill's, Beevor's and Kennedy's accommodate boarding boys and some day boys. Leeman's (pink) and Riding's (blue) were created in 1991 from the Evens and Odds parts of the former School House to cater for day boys (the latter has changed again - see next). Since the school became coeducational in 2003, Paull's (sky blue) was the house of all senior girls, whether day or boarding. A Paull's Annexe was opened in September 2012 to accommodate Sixth Form Day girls. Since then, the number of girls has increased still further, and Riding's House, which was formerly a boys' Day House, has been converted to become the girls' Senior Day House (September 2017). Pupils in years 7 and 8 belonged to Martineau's (green), which is divided into eight tutor groups: Beck, Collier, Elliot, Foster, Griffin, Mason, Neale and Swayne. But in September 2020, a second junior House (Woodrow's) will open for day pupils of this age. This has been necessary because of the tremendous popularity of the school and the need for expansion.


Arts and cultureEdit

Aldenham was used to film additional interior scenes in the 1968 classic British film If...., directed by Lindsay Anderson. The most frequently used room was the main school Dining Room containing the portrait of Aldenham's founder Richard Platt. Aldenham was used for scenes in Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005 film), and features often in television.[citation needed] It was used for some scenes in the British satire Greed (2019 film).


  • James Fowler (2006 - Present)
  • Richard Harman (2000–2006)
  • Stephen Borthwick (1994–2000), later head of Epsom College[6]
  • Michael Higginbottom (1983–1994)
  • Peter Boorman (1974–1983)
  • Paul Griffin (1962–1974)
  • Geoffrey Mason (1949–1961)
  • George Riding (1933–1949)
  • Harvey Beck (1920–1933)
  • Alfred Cooke (1900–1920)
  • John Kennedy (1877–1899)
  • Alfred Leeman (1843–1876)
  • Thomas Spyers (1836–1842)
  • Richard Foster (1834–1836)
  • Jonathan Wilkinson (1824–1833)

Prior to 1824, before the school was rebuilt, the Headmaster was known as the Master:

  • Joseph Summersby (1823–1825)
  • Methusalem Davies (1800–1823)
  • John Griffin (1792–1799)
  • Rice Hughes (1785–1792)
  • Samuel White (1774–1785)
  • Joseph Cantrell (1767–1774)
  • William Ellis (1757–1767)
  • Gilber Allenson (1738–1757)
  • Allen Allenson (1714–1738)
  • Francis Thompson (1703–1714)
  • John Button (1703–1703)
  • Randolph Nicoll (1678–1703)
  • William Swayne (1673–1678)
  • Andrew Campion (1663–1673)
  • William Elliot (1653–1663)
  • Jeremy Collier (1648–1653)
  • Robert Cresswell (1643–1648)
  • Christopher Smyth (1634–1643)
  • Roland Greenwood (1623–1634)
  • Thomas Neale (1598–1623)

Notable Old AldenhamiansEdit


  1. ^ William Page (ed.) (1908). "Aldenham". A History of the County of Hertford: volume 2. Victoria County History. pp. 149–161. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2008.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b R.J. Evans; J.K. Waddell (1969). The History and Register of Aldenham School (10th ed.). Aylesbury: Hazel Watson & Viney.
  3. ^ Richard William Cox; Dave Russell; Wray Vamplew (2002). Encyclopedia of British Football. Routledge. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-7146-5249-8.
  4. ^ Aldenham School Archived 30 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine, The Good Schools Guide.
  5. ^ "The House System". Aldenham School. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  6. ^ The Sad Loss of Former Headmaster Stephen Borthwick,, 16 December 2020, accessed 21 December 2020
  7. ^ Blackhurst, Chris (5 December 2007). "Playing to his strengths, the Beverly Hills Brit who's a self-help god". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 11 February 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  8. ^

External linksEdit