Pennthorpe School

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Pennthorpe School
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Church Street, Rudgwick, West Sussex

Rudgwick, West Sussex

RH12 3HJ

TypeIndependent school
Established1930; 91 years ago (1930)
FoundersMr Herbert Braby and Mr Sidney Braby
ChairmanMrs Julie Kapsalis
Head teacherMrs Alexia Bolton
Age range2 - 13
Average class size14
HousesGaskyns, Pallinghurst, Baynards & Tismans
Color(s)Blue & Gold

The main school building, previously Gaskyns House Pennthorpe is a co-educational Independent school (United Kingdom) day school for children ages 2 to 13 years[1][2]. The school is located in the heart of the village of Rudgwick, along the Surrey/Sussex border. The school is situated just 8 miles from Horsham, 5 miles from Cranleigh and 12 miles from Guildford, and serves almost 300 children from these towns as well as those living in the surrounding rural areas and villages. Pennthorpe is a member of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS)[3], and at its most recent inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) in 2018 was found to be EXCELLENT in both categories inspected (Academic Achievements and Personal Development) and FULLY COMPLIANT in all ISI regulations[4].

The campus is arranged around an original house 'Gaskyns' within 26 acres of the original Gaskyns estate, now comprising other school buildings, sports fields and woodlands.

The school was founded in 1930, in Chislehurst, Kent, by Herbert Wilson Braby and his brother Sidney Gerald Braby. Since 1891 the original building had been an educational establishment, but it was sold to the Braby brothers in 1930 as a Preparatory School for Boys[5]. The school was evacuated to West Sussex at the outbreak of the second world war. On route to Rudgwick, Pennthorpe did set up temporarily in East Grinstead for just half a term, then moved on to Gibbons Mill in Rudgwick, then on to its current site of the original Gaskyns house and estate in 1949[6][7].

The name, Pennthorpe, comes from the original name of the school's first building in Kent, designed by Ernest George c. 1890. The building is clearly shown on an 1895 map of Chislehurst West, standing as one of only six houses in the road. The origin of the name Pennthorpe remains unclear; it doesn’t appear to be a place name or a family name of the first occupiers.

The School

The Braby brothers chose Pennthorpe's motto as “Non nobis solum“: “born not for ourselves alone“. It derives from a sentence in Cicero’s treatise On Duties (Latin: De Officiis). The full sentence reads: “non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici” (“Not for us alone are we born; our country, our friends, have a share in us”; De Officiis, 1:22). This motto still stands today.

Originally a boarding school for boys, girls were also admitted from 1977, and Pennthorpe's boarding facility closed in 1995. Since then, the school has continued to admit both boys and girls purely as day pupils.

The school comprises an established nursery school, The Honey Pot and The Beehive, which serves children from the age of 2 until they being their Reception year. The Pre-Preparatory School takes children from Reception through to the end of Year 2, and then children join the Preparatory School from Year 3 until the end of Year 8. Children go on from Pennthorpe at the age of 13 to a wide range of Senior Schools in the area and beyond.

The Braby connection with Rudgwick

Pennthorpe's founders and original headmasters, Herbert and Sidney Braby, had a family connection to Rudgwick, hence choosing it as the target for their evacuation from Chislehurst. They were grandsons of Mr James Braby (1824-1907)[8] who was a Rudgwick benefactor and landowner, and first chairman of the parish council. Generations of Brabys were lay Rectors of the parish church. Holy Trinity Church, Rudgwick is home to the large and beautiful Braby East Window over the alter, in memory of James and Mary Ann Braby, the Braby brothers’ paternal grandparents[9].

Pennthorpe on Church Street

Pennthorpe's current home is Church Street, Rudgwick[10]. Originally, a large house called ‘Gaskyns’, and the Gaskyns estate, had been built in 1891 for the Barker family. In 1931 the Barker family moved to Herefordshire and sold the estate to a Mr David Jamilly[11]. During the war years the house was used by the Canadian army as an officers’ mess and Mr Jamilly lived in Gaskyns Lodge. In 1947 he sold the house and its grounds, including what is now the Pennthorpe playing field and the area of Orchard Hill to the school. Another part of the estate was later developed into what is now Gaskyns Close[12].


  • Mr Herbert and Mr Sidney Braby, 1930 - 1955
  • Mr Dennis ‘Chalky’ White, 1955 - 1974
  • Reverend John Spencer, 1974 - 1996
  • Mr Steven Moll, 1996 - 2013
  • Mr Matthew King, 2013 - 2016
  • Mr Neil Jones, 2016 - 2017
  • Mrs Alexia Bolton, 2017 - present

Connections with its roots

Pennthorpe's pupils are divided into four houses, the names of each connect the children to the roots of the school's current location in Rudgwick; Pallinghurst (blue) is named for the Pallinghurst estate[13], now the home of the Rikkyo School in England in Rdugwick; Baynards (red) is named for the now privately owned Baynards Park[14]Baynards Park (green) is named for the original house within which the school is now homed; and Tismans (yellow) is named for Tisman's Common and the original Tisman's Estate[15]. All of these estates provided most of the local employment in agricultural activities in the 19th century.

Pennthorpe offers 11+ scholarships to talented young people, who become known as Braby Scholars, a nod towards the school's founders. Awards of up to 40% of full fees can be made for excellence in Academic studies, Art, Design Technology, Drama, Music or Sport. In 2020 7+ scholarships have also been introduced, named Goddard Scholarships after Miss Nicky Goddard, a recent Deputy Head at Pennthorpe who served the school for over 20 years[16].


  1. "Home - Pennthorpe Prep and Pre-Prep School in West Sussex". Pennthorpe. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  2. "Pennthorpe School - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  3. "IAPS schools directory". Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  4. "Find an ISI Report :: Independent Schools Inspectorate". Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  10. "Old Rudgwick, the Village". Rudgwick Preservation Society. 2014-01-22. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  12. "Rudgwick Preservation Society". Rudgwick Preservation Society. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  13. "Pallinghurst Farm House, Cranleigh - 1189633 | Historic England". Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  14. "BAYNARDS PARK MANSION, Ewhurst - 1044362 | Historic England". Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  15. "TISMANS, Rudgwick - 1354185 | Historic England". Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  16. "Bursaries and Scholarships – Pennthorpe Pre-Prep and Prep School West Sussex". Pennthorpe. Retrieved 2021-02-16.

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