School reveals rich history at Heritage Open Days

King Edward’s Witley opened its doors to the general public last weekend to share its rich history with visitors, as part of the established national Heritage Open Days initiative. The event marked the first time the school has taken part in England’s favourite heritage festival and was particularly apposite given this year’s focus on the 150th anniversary of the school’s move to Witley.

Led by the School’s Archivist, Marilyn Wilkes, around 40 people took part in two tours on Sunday, September 10, providing a unique opportunity for visitors to behold the local landmark architecture as well as the imposing Bridewell and Selborne Rooms, which both house original paintings of historic interest. The Bridewell Room, part of the original 1867 complex of buildings housing the Schoolis used for receptions, Governors’ meetings and meetings of the School’s pupil council. The Selborne Room – originally built in 1876 as the Dining Hall –  was named after the 4th Earl of Selborne, (Treasurer of Bridewell Royal Hospital from 1972 to 1983) and is now used for exams, conferences, seminars and other functions.  Guests also had a private view of Charter Hall, the scene for all school productions and awards ceremonies, which was formally opened by the President of Bridewell Royal Hospital, HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, in 1958,  and which houses the original and enormous 17th Century Charter Portrait.

Other highlights of the tour included the beautiful on-site Chapel, first consecrated in 1868; the School’s own museum which houses numerous original artefacts and photographs (including a real hammock used by boarders until the 1940s); the War Memorial erected in honour of the Masters and former pupils who fell in the 1914-1918 war; and the statue of the young King Edward VI, who originally granted his palace at Bridewell, on the banks of the Thames, to the Lord Mayor of London, creating the School’s parent foundation (Bridewell Royal Hospital), as a place for the training and education of poor children in 1553.

Throughout the tours, Mrs Wilkes, provided a potted history of King Edward’s Witley, from its original origins as a Tudor orphanage in the City of London through to the world-class school it is today.

Mrs Wilkes said: “We are immensely proud of King Edward’s long history and it was wonderful to provide our visitors with an understanding of the School’s exceptional heritage. Even for those living locally, many were surprised at the size of the school behind the road-side façade and all enjoyed hearing about the fascinating journey from 1553 to the current day.”


Starry year for Churcher’s sixth form

Churcher’s College sixth form in Petersfield is celebrating yet another starry A level results year.

Headmaster Simon Williams said: “After the quite exceptional levels of success last year we had expected this year to be a little more modest but we are absolutely delighted to note how this year’s group of students have exceeded expectations.

“Durham University and their Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring use various baseline tests to give us a prediction of the A level outcome for the students and, from that, as a year group as a whole. The Sixth Formers here at Churcher’s have exceeded those expectations of them; our value-added score last year was outstanding; it is likely to be similar again this year.

“For the majority of our students, university is the next destination and it is the top, most competitive courses and universities they aspire to. The confirmation of places is still coming in, but with 18% of the A levels graded A* and over 45% A* and A grade, the level of A level success here means that they invariably achieve their aspirations. To be awarded an A* grade candidates must achieve a cumulative score of 90% or more, and with fifteen, of the year group of just over 100, achieve straight A* and A grades there have been many quite outstanding performances but it is not just the academically highly capable who have exceeded expectations.

“With all the changes that have been taking place with A levels, linking one year with another becomes like comparing apples and pears. There has always been a natural variation in ability between year groups but this is being exacerbated by exam structure changes such as no re-take opportunities and the loss of modular exams. What doesn’t change, however, is the Churcher’s students’ determination to give and get the best, inside and outside the classroom.

“Those of us who were lucky enough to witness the Churcher’s orchestra tour’s hugely successful concerts on their tour in Barcelona this summer heard applause aplenty; and there is another, well-deserved, standing ovation for these A level exam results.”



Daubing day at Butser Ancient Farm – wattle lot of fun!

By Kat Wootton

I’m at Butser Ancient Farm in Chalton, south of Petersfield just off the A3, on a hot and humid Sunday morning. Flying ant weather; and good drying weather for some daubing.

Wattle and daub – that ancient method of making walls – is basically a woven latticework of sticks with mud stuck on top to make it draught- and weather- proof.

I’m at the experimental archaeology site to volunteer my services in finishing a new roundhouse, built in the late Iron Age style. Unlike the large roundhouse next door, there’s no central circle of posts to hold the roof up, just a wattle circle wall using willow rather than the usual hazel to weave between the outer posts, a thatched straw roof and two layers of daub.

Mud, hair, dung and water mix – the daub

The inside walls had been daubed the week before by a group on a corporate team building day. Now the volunteers step up to do the outside.

Daub is a mixture of soil (which here contains a fair bit of chalk), cow dung, cow and horse hair, and straw, with water added until it’s the consistency of a wet cake mix. The aim is to splat it onto the wattle so that it coats it in an inch or two thick layer, squishing between the willow stems. Too wet and it won’t stay on, too dry and it won’t envelope the willow. It’s very therapeutic as we hurl clots of daub at the wall, before patting with the back of our hands to smooth it out and weld the blobs of daub together. When it’s dried a little, it can be smoothed with a plasterer’s tool. The bigger stones have to be picked out and we work in panels of three or four upright posts at a time, starting at the bottom and working our way up to the top under the eaves, which is tricky and usually results in a liberal amount of daub in the hair and down your top. It’s well rotted dung so it doesn’t smell. We convince ourselves it is conditioning our hair and skin…

Trevor, who is coordinating the small group of volunteers, gets stuck in too, under the watchful eye of David Freeman, resident archaeologist and proud builder of the roundhouse, as well as the stone age buildings at the other side of the Farm.

One little girl is so absorbed, she doesn’t want to stop even when the lunch call comes. Her younger brother isn’t so keen to get his hands dirty but once he plunges his hands into the bucket of gloop and realises he is actually allowed to sling mud, he gets to work with gusto, singing “splat splat splat” as he does so. There is lots of chat about how people would have built these houses, how long it might have taken them, how many people would have lived in it… a lesson in pre-history as we work. David explains that the walls would have been painted – he’s going for lime white and ochre red, with yellow bands top and bottom and swirling abstract designs painted on top.

David’s very neat daubing

Members of the Anglo Saxon reenactment group Herigeas Hundas walk past, eyeing the dirty work. We are coated in mud. We threaten to see them off by mudslinging and they head back to the Saxon hall, laughing.

Starting at 10am, with a squash and biscuit break and an hour for lunch, the daubing is done by teatime. I’m stiff and covered in dried mud, but I feel fantastic. I can say ‘I did that’ next time I see those bits of wall. I’m seriously considering creating my own garden roundhouse now…

Daubed! The new roundhouse

If you’d like to volunteer or take one of the courses offered at the farm, see

Would-be Wildings can head to Surrey Hills

A group of twelve young people aged 13-16 took part in an exciting wilderness expedition this summer, in  the Surrey Hills.

The group, brought together by the Leatherhead Youth Project, experienced two days of self-led navigation across 15km of Surrey Hills terrain, undertaking ‘wild’ camping and& cooking to complete the very first ‘Into the Wild’ expedition.

Oli Bell, Senior Youth Worker for the Leatherhead Youth Project said: “I’m so delighted with the success of this first ‘Into the Wild’ expedition. Watching this group of young people move away from their comfort zones, challenge themselves and come together as a team was inspirational. The aim of the exhibition was to provide each of them with a wilderness experience which would teach them lessons about themselves, each other and the world they live in.”

The group set off from Westcott, with a small amount of equipment to see them through the next few days. The 15km trek took them up into the heart of Winterfold Forest where youth workers led some reflective exercises with them including a 20-minute silent walk.

Oli said: “The silent walk proved a challenge to some of the group as many of them were used to constant noise and entertainment. Being silent for 20 minutes allowed them to experience nature in a new way, listening to noises and looking around them.”

The group successfully navigated their way through the woodlands of the Surrey Hills, eventually setting up camp at 7pm. Despite being exhausted from a full day of exercise and fresh air, the group set up survival hammocks, strung between the trees, and set about starting a campfire from flint in order to cook their evening meal.

The next morning the group packed up and set off on their trek again, taking in the views of the Surrey Hills landscape and bonded by their shared experience.

This ‘Into the Wild’ two day expedition was made possible by a grant from the Surrey Hills Trust Fund, Leatherhead Community Association and Community Foundation for Surrey.

As part of the expedition young people achieved the John Muir Award, an outdoor award based on the foundations of exploration, discovery, conservation and sharing experiences.

The Surrey Hills Trust Fund, established in partnership with the Community Foundation for Surrey, aims to help local communities enjoy the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and safeguard its future for generations to come.

Neil Maltby, Chairman of the Surrey Hills Trust Fund said: “Many of the young people had never been into the Surrey Hills before and this is exactly what the Surrey Hills Trust Fund is about – encouraging everyone to respect and enjoy the countryside on their doorstep and leave with a passion to protect it. We’re delighted to have played a part in the inaugural ‘Into the Wild’ expedition and hope to see many more like it. Offering young people an experience they don’t usually get is just wonderful.”

To donate to the Surrey Hills Trust Fund, apply for a grant or for further information visit


Into the Wild experience

Students become forensic scientists at King Edward’s Witley

A group of budding forensic scientists from King Edward’s Witley delved into the world of crime when their classroom was turned into a CSI lab to help solve the mystery of the missing ‘Cock House Cups’.

The team of Year 9 students, armed with latex gloves and the contents of the school science cupboard, cast their eagle-eyed attention on the tricky task of tracking down the perpetrators of the misdemeanour, in a fun science project, code named ‘CSI Witley’.

Their mission was to find out who stole the valuable solid silver trophies from the Bridewell Room at the School. The Cups went missing last Thursday at approximately 8.47am. The criminals left plenty of clues at the scene – if you knew where to look – including handwriting samples, fingerprints and DNA evidence, blood and skin and pollen samples.

Scouring the area for evidence, the pupils brought back samples to the lab for DNA profiling, psychological profiling, fingerprint testing and handwriting analysis.

They identified four suspects who each had a motive, the opportunity and no alibi for the time of the theft. Their findings were later presented to a judge for scrutiny in a mock trial.

The project, which brings together science, biology, psychology and maths was inspired by the award-winning CBS series CSI, one of the longest running scripted primetime TV series in the US. Many of the experiments seen in the show were expertly re-created by the school’s talented lab technicians.

Leading the investigation, Mr Cochrane, Teacher of Physics at King Edward’s Witley said: “We recreated a challenging and realistic case for the pupils to crack using the knowledge they’ve gleaned as to how the experts collect forensic evidence. Just like real-life forensic scientists the students learnt to observe carefully, organise, analyse and record data, do simple tests and to think critically to solve the case. The Cups are important to the School as they are awarded to the houses that achieve the most credits at the end of the year. The culprits were probably attracted to the value of the silver, which is currently estimated to be around £429 per kg. It’s vital that we get them back before they are melted down.”

Who knows where their investigations will lead them. Will they solve the crime…?

Flamingo babies for first time at Birdworld

The keeping team at Birdworld situated near Farnham, Surrey are delighted to announce that the park’s flamboyance of Greater Flamingos has successfully hatched chicks for the first time in the park’s history.

The chicks, which have been carefully monitored by Birdworld’s dedicated keeping staff since laid as eggs earlier this year, are now finding their feet and exploring the world around them as their parents keep a close, protective watch on their progress.

The newly-hatched chicks have grey or white down feathers and a straight red bill. They will lose their juvenile grey or white colour gradually over a two to three-year period, at which time their pink feathers begin to show.

Birdworld received the flock of 25 Greater Flamingos from Durrell Zoo in Jersey and opened the purpose-built Flamingo Cove exhibit in May 2015, to house the colourful birds. In 2016, Birdworld welcomed a further three adult birds from WWT Slimbridge, boosting the flock’s numbers to 28.  The delightful walk-through enclosure features natural planting, a running water stream and plenty of space to provide a healthy environment for all its occupants in surroundings that reflect their habitat in the wild.

Duncan Bolton, Birdworld Curator, said: “We are very happy that our flock of Greater Flamingos are successfully breeding and hatching chicks this year, the first time in Birdworld’s 49-year history. The flock came to us around two years ago and we are very pleased with the progress they have made since arriving. The nesting activity is a sure sign that the group are settled and comfortable in the enclosure. We hope that visitors to the park will enjoy seeing the chicks grow throughout the summer  and beyond.”

Already one of the largest bird parks in the country, the landscaped park and gardens at Birdworld are home to over 800 birds and 180 species from around the world. The park also is home to the Underwater World aquarium and the Jenny Wren Farm.

For more information about Birdworld, visit: or call 01420 22992.

Greater Flamingo chicks at Birdworld. Photos – Colin McKenzie

Great Flamingo fact file:

  • The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the largest of all flamingo species.
  • During the colder times of the year, many of the Great Flamingos in Asia migrate to warmer climates.
  • The male Great Flamingos can be up to 61 inches tall which is more than many humans. They only weigh about 8 pounds which is extremely light for an animal that is so tall!
  • The curve of their neck is very flexible due to the many vertebrae found there. They also feed with their head upside down in the water. You will notice their black beak has a very unique design to it.
  • The pink colouring for their bodies comes from the crustaceans that they consume as a big part of their diet.
  • Their mating habits are consistent with those of other species of Flamingos. If they don’t get enough food to eat they will lose the pigmentation and their feathers will only be white. They also won’t engage in mating at all if they don’t have enough food to survive on themselves.
  • They communicate vocally with a type of honking that is very similar to the sounds that geese make.
  • The oldest Greater Flamingo in the world is found in a zoo located in Australia. He is at least 77 years old, but the exact age isn’t known.
  • The younger birds don’t get the pigmentation until they are at least three years of age.

Godalming college celebrates achievement at awards ceremony

Godalming College was very proud to welcome back alumni Sam Jackson as the guest speaker for their Let’s Celebrate event recently, when awards were presented to the best students on each course for either their outstanding achievement or for effort and determination. Others won memorial prizes or awards for their contribution to the college or wider community.

Photographs by Darren Cool

Sam Jackson was a student at Godalming College from 1999 to 2001.  A talented musician, playing the Piano, Clarinet and Saxophone, Sam was very much inspired by his music teacher and went on to gain a first class degree in Music from the University of York and is now the Managing Editor of two national radio stations, Classic FM and Smooth Radio. He has won many awards such as the UK Radio Brand of the year at the Sony Radio Academy Awards and the Best Classical Format at the New York International Radio Festival and has also appeared on the list of The Radio Academy’s Best Young Talent in the Industry list for two years.  He is author of the book Diary of a Desperate Dad: one man’s guide to family life from 0-5 and the online blog of the same name.  At 34 he has many achievements but was clear in his speech to students that almost everyone is “blagging it” and that they shouldn’t feel anxious or worried but go forward and take the opportunities and challenges when and where they can and make the most of them.

The retiring president of the Student Union at Godalming College gave a passionate speech about how much she had valued her experiences at Godalming and how this has shaped and developed her.  “Whatever you are doing in the future,” she said to students leaving the College “be happy”.

As guests gathered before the ceremony they were treated to drinks and canapé and were entertained by Performing Arts students who performed a song and dance routine entitled Another Day of Sun and excellent music from the College Jazz Band.

A clarinet duet by Frankie Gale and Elizebeth Knatt provided an exciting musical interlude during the ceremony with a performance of Validation by Richard Perceval. Sam Jackson was particularly pleased to hear live music and a clarinet duet was all the more poignant because he met his wife by playing a clarinet duet with her at Godalming College.

The evening was the first Let’s Celebrate evening at Godalming College for Principal Emma Young and the last for retiring Chair of the Corporation, Brenda Jenner.

Brenda expressed her joy at being part of the College, saying that “Godalming students never disappoint – their achievements across the spectrum from BTEC to A-Levels and Arts, Biology to Drama & Music, to Economics, English, History and Philosophy are exceptional and something we should all be proud of.  I have been delighted to be part of the Godalming College experience and have very much enjoyed working with staff at students, who never fail to disappoint.”

Eighty-nine students were presented with awards, such as Rashid Talha, a superb mathematician who completed all 18 units of Mathematics that are available and will receive A levels in Maths, Further Maths and Additional Maths alongside his other subjects.

Robert Honey, who will be moving on to a Degree Apprenticeship with Rolls Royce, has balanced A level study alongside his role as a young carer and also giving up his free time to tutor students in the Waverley Federation schools in Physics.

Gear Pinmuanglek who was praised for supporting others and his excellent focus, came to Godalming College as an Access student taking English as a Second or other Language and has shone in his academic studies of Business, Creative Media and Film Studies.

Joseph Hettrick who won The Anstice Fearon Memorial Prize for outstanding contribution to the life of the College, was nominated for his active work with the Students Union, getting involved in national campaigns and keeping students informed, his attendance at debating competitions and for his political standpoint which gave a record result when he stood as Labour Candidate in the recent mock general election at College.

Emma Young, Principal of the College, said: “The evening is a key one in the college calendar as it is the opportunity to come together to celebrate the achievements of some of our brilliant students that we are so fortunate to work with here at the college. It is also important to celebrate and recognise the contributions of our highly talented and dedicated staff who work extremely hard to ensure that the students achieve their potential. It was also good to be able to pay a public tribute to the work that Brenda Jenner has done as a Governor and Chair of the Corporation.  Her dedication to ensuring that the college provides the best possible experience of students and staff is second to none. ”

Alphonsi honours achievements and talent at Barrow Hills ceremony

Maggie Alphonsi MBE, the face of international women’s rugby, who represented her country an impressive 74 times and helped England win a record breaking seven consecutive Six Nations crowns, was the guest speaker at Barrow Hills’ annual Prize Giving event on Friday, July 7.

Maggie joined the children as they said goodbye to those leaving the school to move onto the next phase of their educational journey and honoured those who have been recognised for their achievements and outstanding talent over the past year.

Headmaster Sean Skehan said: “Having Maggie present at our end of year Prize Giving service provides our children with a wonderful opportunity to meet with a high-profile sports woman, whose sporting achievements are legendary.

“Maggie personifies the importance of courage, determination and sheer hard work as the required attributes for success.  Of course, she is also a fantastic role model for our girls, underpinning the school’s strong belief that gender should never be a barrier to achievement. Maggie has accomplished so much in a sport that was historically dominated by men, becoming the first ever former female player to commentate on men’s international rugby. All of this whilst still continuing with her academic studies, obtaining an MSc and BSc in Sports & Exercise. She is truly an inspiration to all our children.”

Maggie Alphonsi said: “It is always rewarding to meet with young children who are just starting to carve out their hopes and ambitions for the future. From spending time with the children today, the school’s strong ethos is clearly evident; to encourage children to believe in themselves and to strive to achieve to the very best of their ability.  The prize giving today and news of the number of scholarships awarded to Barrow Hills children this year is testament to the power of that philosophy.”


Maggi Alphonis MBE with the students from Barrow Hills School

Petersfield’s Edward Barnsley Workshop again at Masterpiece exhibition

Edward Barnsley Workshop in Froxfield is now a regular exhibitor at London’s Masterpiece, and will once again participate in this prestigious annual event at The Royal Hospital Chelsea from June 29 to July 5.

Masterpiece London launched in 2010 with a unique focus on cross-collecting. Over the past seven years it has established itself as the leading international event for viewing and buying the finest works of art, from antiquity to the present day in the heart of London.

The Edward Barnsley Workshop, makers of bespoke furniture, have attended the Masterpiece exhibition since the beginning. The unifying theme for their showcase this year will be monochrome with a white scrubbed oak rocking chair as its centrepiece. Last year the theme was also monochrome but featured black scorched oak furniture. This year the staging will be a dramatic black backdrop and the white rocking chair taking centre stage.

Edward Barnsley rocking chair

Creating the white bespoke handcrafted oak rocking chair involves skilled apprentices bleaching the wood and scrubbing it with an abrasive scouring powder to create the “blonde look.” The startling white rocking chair against the black background will have an ethereal quality as the chair appears to be organically moulded from a single piece of wood. This is largely due to the scrubbed oak finish which makes it hard to see where one piece of wood finishes and another begins.

Edward Barnsley’s Designer-Manager, James Ryan said: “As a designer, I love the feedback and interaction with the visitors coming to Masterpiece excited to see the exhibits. I also enjoy seeing the inspiring art work and pieces on the other stands and meeting the dealers who specialise in selling them.”

Customers visiting the exhibition can be reassured that every piece has met the Masterpiece stringent criteria as every piece has been individually vetted.

Also debuting at Masterpiece – a new white scrubbed oak sidetable will be unveiled. This follows the same design narrative as used on the Rocking chair and the black scorched dining table and develops it in a new format.

Masterpiece is located on the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea at the height of the capital’s summer arts season.

Churcher’s student Libby shortlisted for Saatchi prize

A Churcher’s College student has been shortlisted for a prestigious art award.

Libby Gervais’s artwork ‘Untitled Self’ has been shortlisted for the 2017 Saatchi Gallery Art Prize for Schools.

The Prize received more than 24,000 entries from 66 different countries, where only 20 works are shortlisted.

An exhibition of the 20 shortlisted works will take place July 4-13 at the Saatchi Gallery, London. The winner and runner up prizes will be announced at 7pm on July 4 at an awards evening.

This year’s judging panel consisted of Alice Anderson, Artist; Alistair Hicks, Writer and Curator; Nigel Hurst, CEO of the Saatchi Gallery; Megan Piper, Gallerist and Founder of The Line; Dea Vanagan, Curator and Director, Hauser & Wirth Somerset.     The winning school has the opportunity to win £15,000 for their art department and the winning student getting £3,000 with a further £1,000 to another student to spend on computer equipment.

Libby Gervais was 17 at the time of completing the painting as part of her Art coursework at school. She is now is a Sixth Form student at Churcher’s in Petersfield.

Libby said: “This painting was produced as a part of a project at school on the theme of ‘Self’. It is the result of a culmination of smaller drawings, paintings and photographs which were produced as preparatory studies. I wanted the self portrait to show something of the person that I am at this stage in my life. The title ‘Untitled Self’ reflects the transitionary stage I feel I am in, where/as the development of my sense of self is not complete, but very much still in progress. Part of this is my creative journey, which is about to move to another stage as I leave school and embark on a course at London College Of Fashion.

“The title also works as an antithesis to the current trend of the ‘selfie’ which has become embedded in our recent culture. The pose is also carefully considered as I wanted to do something that engaged the viewer but also says something about my personality. I am very excited about being short – listed and feel it is a great honour.”

Al Saralis, Head of Art at Churcher’s College, said: “We are delighted that Libby has been recognised by the Saatchi Gallery and an expert judging panel.

“Beating off so many international competitors and being one of only 11 UK finalists, is testament to Libby’s talent and her phenomenal self-portrait.

“Libby is one of many talented Art students here at Churcher’s, and it is incredibly rewarding to see them grow beyond school.  Our A Level course is Fine Art based, which I believe gives the platform for students to flourish in any creative area they may wish to pursue.  Libby is, in fact, about to embark on a Degree in Fashion Marketing at London College of Fashion.”