Roedean School

Roedean School is an independent day and boarding school founded in 1885 in Roedean Village on the outskirts of Brighton, East Sussex, England, and governed by Royal Charter. It is for girls aged 11 to 18. The campus is situated near the Sussex Downs, on a cliff overlooking Brighton Marina and the English Channel.

Roedean School
Roedean school.jpg
Roedean Way

, ,

Coordinates50°48′43″N 0°05′06″W / 50.812°N 0.085°W / 50.812; -0.085Coordinates: 50°48′43″N 0°05′06″W / 50.812°N 0.085°W / 50.812; -0.085
TypeIndependent day and boarding school
MottoHonneur aulx dignes
("Honour the worthy")
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Local authorityBrighton and Hove
Department for Education URN114616 Tables
President of TrusteesLady Patten of Barnes
HeadmasterOliver Blond
Age11 to 18
Colour(s)Blue and White    
Former pupilsOld Roedeanians

The school incorporates dance studios, music classrooms, a 320-seat theatre, a heated indoor swimming pool, a golf course, a private tunnel to the beach, a farm and a chapel, as well as a range of workshops, studios, laboratories and sports pitches. It is also well-provisioned with a variety of classrooms.

Roedean School is a member of the Girls' Schools Association and the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC). The Good Schools Guide stated that the "School has a healthy spirit and much to offer."[1] The Independent Schools Inspectorate rated Roedean as Excellent in all areas (highest category) in its most recent inspection (March 2016).[2]


The school was founded in 1885 as Wimbledon House by three sisters: Penelope, Millicent, and Dorothy Lawrence.[3] Their brother was the lawyer Sir Paul Lawrence of Wimbledon, who helped them considerably. Their Lawrence great aunts had been noted school teachers earlier in the century, mainly in Liverpool. Roedean was founded to prepare girls for entrance to the newly opened women's colleges at Cambridge University, Girton (now co-ed) and Newnham Colleges.[4] In 1898, the school moved to its present site, occupying new buildings designed by the architect Sir John Simpson. A sister school, also called Roedean School and co-founded by the youngest Lawrence sister, Theresa, in 1903, is located in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The school motto, Honneur aulx dignes, is in Norman French, and means "Honour the worthy". When pronounced, it sounds like "Honour Roedean".[5]

In 1924 the Lawrence sisters were replaced by Emmeline Mary Tanner who became the new head. She had been poached from Bedford High School by Penelope Lawrence as their successor.[6]

During the Second World War, the students and staff were temporarily evacuated to Keswick, in the north of England. The school buildings in Brighton, Sussex were used by the Admiralty.[7][8] They adapted it for use by Navy cadets attending the Mining and Torpedo School (known as HMS Vernon). Roedean is one of the few girls' schools in the country to have an Old Boys' Association.[9]

The artist Percy Shakespeare was killed by a German bomb while serving at Roedean.[10]

Absorption of St Mary's HallEdit

Inspired by his friend William Carus-Wilson, who founded Cowan Bridge School, Reverend Henry Venn Elliott proposed to found a similar school for the county. St Mary's Hall was opened in 1836 and was the second-oldest girls' school in the United Kingdom before it was closed in 2009.[11] At that time, its junior section became Roedean's junior school while many senior girls transferred to Roedean. The junior school was closed in 2011 as the school administration decided to focus on secondary and sixth form education.[12][13]


Roedean School is set in 118 acres (48 ha) of grounds off Roedean Way, at the top of a cliff on the Sussex Downs overlooking the sea, approximately in line with Brighton Marina.

Academic resultsEdit

In 2022, the school achieved their best ever results, with 71% of all A-Level grades A*-A and 85% of GCSE grades 9-7. [14]


The school community is divided into houses.

The Lawrence and Tanner House (with Senior and Junior wings) system, introduced in 2005, was reversed starting in 2010. A numbered house system was reintroduced. Roedean school has the longest corridor in England.[citation needed]

Year 7 to Year 11 students are spread out amongst Houses 1, 2, 3, and 4. These are named after the house numbers 1–4 of Lewes Crescent, where the School was located prior to moving in 1898 to this campus built for it.

Sixth form (Years 12–13) are admitted to Keswick House and Lawrence House, which are detached from the main school building.

In the 1960s, the houses were: Junior House; House Number 1; House Number 2; House Number 3; House Number 4; and a Sanatorium. In 1966 part of the Sanatorium was made into rooms for 6th form girls, two 6th form girls from every numbered house. The School retains a sanatorium wing (now known as a health centre) to this day.

Admission proceduresEdit

Roedean is a selective school, and entry to the school is based upon the School's own entrance examinations, interviews and reports from the students' previous schools. [15]

Notable alumniEdit

Past pupils are known as Old Roedeanians and include:


Healthcare and educationEdit

Journalism and literatureEdit

Military and sportEdit

Politics and activismEdit


Theatre, television, and filmEdit

Roedeanians in fictionEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Good Schools Guide to choosing a school. Which school? Independent, state, public, private, prep, junior, senior, primary, special, private and public schools and educational and SEN - the Good School Guide". Archived from the original on 22 April 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  2. ^ "ISI Inspection 2016". Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  3. ^ "Lawrence, Penelope (1856–1932), a founder of Roedean School, Brighton". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/48570. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 25 March 2021. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ History of Roedean Archived 3 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Parent, independent school (29 August 2013). "Do you know what your school motto means? | independent school Parent". independent school Parent. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Tanner, Dame Emmeline Mary (1876–1955), headmistress and educational reformer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/52247. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 5 October 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ "WW2 – The Second World War: Keswick Hotel during the Second World War".
  8. ^ "obituary:Lieutenant Claude Holloway". The Daily Telegraph. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  9. ^ Roedean Old Boys' Association Archived 13 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Percy Shakespeare Collection". Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. Archived from the original on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  11. ^ "St Mary's Hall Association". 125 years of Roedean. 12 December 2009. Archived from the original on 12 December 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  12. ^ Junior School Archived 19 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Roedean Junior School". 2 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 January 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Examination Results - Roedean School". Roedean School. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  15. ^ "Entry Process - Roedean School". Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  16. ^ "Obituary: Barbara Calder, pioneering yachtswoman". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  17. ^ a b Milner, Catherine; de Burton, Simon (30 June 2002). "Daisy pulls it off – with a spanner". The Daily Telegraph.
  18. ^ Devlin, Kate (16 September 2018). "Roedean past of '11-plus hater' MP".

External linksEdit