1619

The land was purchased and the first schoolhouse erected on the site.

1619

1623

The School had its first Headmaster, Peter Mease, MA, Bachelor of Divinity from Jesus College, Cambridge.

1623
Year of Our Founding: 1629

Year of Our Founding: 1629

1629

The School was formally founded by Samuel Harsnett, Archbishop of York and Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University. It then had 16 ‘poor scholars’. The original school building, known as “Big School”, was in what now houses the Swallow Library.

1629

1655

William Penn was a pupil at the School. He went on to become a prominent Quaker, advocate of religious freedom, and founder of the US state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia.

1655

1714

The Quaker Society sent a Native American, Prince George, son of the chief of the Yamasee Indians, to join the scholars at Chigwell.

1762

Peter Burford was appointed Headmaster, starting the dynasty of the Burford family which continued up to the appointment of William John Burford in 1813.

1762

1795

William Cotton was a student at the School - he later became Governor of the Bank of England. In 1801, he infamously set the Headmaster’s garden on fire, possibly during hay-making.

1795
1800 - 1900

1800 - 1900

1800

Boarders now lived at Harsnett’s House (built in 1485 and given to the School by Archbishop Harsnett in 1624).

1800

1868

The School is split in half. In the English School the local children studied Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. The Latin School remained the Big School with the Latin scholars.

1868

1885

Swimming was added to the curriculum with the first wooden swimming pool ever to be built in England.

1885
1900 - 2000

1900 - 2000

1914–1918

79 Chigwellians were killed in action in the First World War. The School then only had a total of only 80 pupils, but it remained open.

1914–1918

1924

The Chapel was built as a memorial to it's students killed in the First World War, whose names you will see remembered on the walls today.

1924

1939 - 1945

Second World War years; 50 Chigwellians died in this war.

1939 - 1945

1962

Walde Music School built.

1968

Princess Margaret opened the school gymnasium.

1975

The first three girls were admitted to the Sixth Form.

1976

The Junior School was opened on the main site and new science labs were built.

1976

1979

Conversion of "Big School" to the Swallow Library.

1979

1981

The Practical Arts Centre (now the Art, Design and Technology department) was opened by the Queen Mother and "Queen Mother Quad" was created.

1981

1997

The School became co-educational.

2000 to present

2000 to present

2004

HRH the Countess of Wessex formally opened the Drama Centre.

2004

2008

The all-weather floodlit pitch was completed.

2008

2009

The Wilson Building was opened by former Headmaster, Mr Brian Wilson. In addition, the Junior School library extension was completed.

2010

Harsnett’s and Church House were converted into new boys’ boarding accommodation, and new catering facilities were opened by Michel Roux Jr.

2010

2012

The Old Chigwellian's Club and land was incorporated into the School's estate, expanding the site to 100 acres.

2013

Chigwell Pre Prep was opened for boys and girls aged 4 – 7. Two new science labs were opened to meet increasing numbers opting for science.

2013

2016

The Risham Sarao Sixth Form Centre was opened by Old Chigwellian and TV presenter, Ben Shepherd.

2016

2018

The Dining Hall extension was completed, as well as renovation of the Chapel, and extension of the Junior School.

2018

2019

Restoration of the roof of the old school buildings was completed.

2019

2020

The School digitally delivered more than 10,000 live lessons during the Covid-19 global pandemic, as well as producing 1,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the NHS, local surgeries, care homes and pharmacies.

2020

Archives

More History

Further information on the School's history is available in Some History from the Archives