I went to Woolpit School in the September of 1958 when I was seven years old.
My birthday is on the 30th October, so I was eight very soon after arriving.
At that time, Woolpit was a private Preparatory boading school catering for boys from seven to thirteen.
“Yeats, Browne, Wallis and Reeks, Beidas, Fortune and Roache”
The beautiful building was originally built for Sir Henry Doulton, (1820 – 1897), the son of the founder of the Royal Doulton pottery business. In the early 1880s, Henry Doulton leased, and then bought, land in the parish of Ewhurst in the county of Surrey. Here, in 1885, he built a house, ‘Woolpit’, with an extensive formal garden.
A panel of terracotta by George Tinworth ‘Abraham receiving the Angel’s visit’ was placed above the porch. Here, in the peace of the picturesque countryside, Sir Henry Doulton would spend what time he could. Sir Henry’s biographer, Edmund Gosse, wrote that he had been ‘permanently bewitched’ by the beauty of the spot in which he chose to build his house. ‘He announced, with a conviction which he maintained to the last, that there was more beauty of scenery in the parish of Ewhurst than was to be found, equally composed and combined, in any other parish in England. When gently reminded that he had not seen all the English parishes, he admitted it, and said that, after seeing Ewhurst, one would not want to see them.’
Now the Duke of Kent School, Woolpits was originally the country residence of the Doulton family of ‘Royal Doulton’. The house was built between 1886 and 1888 by George & Peto for Henry, later Sir Henry Doulton.
The house was built of red brick with terracotta dressings, made at the Doulton factory in Lambeth and the interior was decorated with specially commissioned works from the Doulton Studio.
After the Second World War the house was sold and became a boarding school, St Thomas of Canterbury School. In 1976 the school amalgamated with Vanbrugh Castle School, which had been founded by the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund to provide an education for the sons of airmen killed on active service. The new school was named the Duke of Kent School, after George, Duke of Kent.
Woolpits was built for the pottery manufacturer Sir Henry Doulton and much use was made of terrracotta throughout the house, especially on the chimneys and internally for decoration.
Architect/Designer: Ernest George & Peto 1879 Gothic Revival
Woolpits, high up Coneyhurst Hill, the seat of Mr. H. L. Doulton.