Bedales School was founded by John Haden Badley in 1893 as a humane alternative to the authoritarian regimes typical of late-Victorian Public Schools. It name comes from the first house it was established in called ‘Bedales’ in Steep, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex.
As the numbers of pupils increased, and girls also joined the school, other nearby properties had to be rented to accommodate them. They original house could not be extended, and so other suitable sites were sought, which in 1900 brought the school to Sheet, with 120 acres of farmland, woods, orchards and playing fields.
The school had become fully co-educational in 1898 and students were given a formal voice by 1916, when the School Council was formed. Students still follow John Badley’s ideal of educating ‘head, hand and heart’. At the centre of the school are the Grade 1 listed Lupton Hall and Memorial Library, designed by Ernest Gimson.
The Archives were only started in 1999, so they are not totally comprehensive. They include an eclectic mix of documents, including, for example, John Badley’s watercolours, theatre programmes, the minutes of many committee meeting, plans and photographs. There are no school records (other than names and dates) for individual pupils, although some picture of a pupil’s life may be built up by reading about them in the school magazines. Digitized copies of the Bedales Record (1894-1935) and The Chronicle (1907-mid 1920s so far, with more to come), can be accessed via http://bedalesschools.daisy.websds.net/
The catalogue is not searchable by the public, but every effort is made to answer enquiries. Visitors are also welcome by appointment.
The school website is www.bedales.org.uk .
See also Steep History Group
Phone number: 01730 300100 (main switchboard), 01730 711609 (direct dial, term time only)
Contacts: Ian Douglas, Jane Kirby
Handshaking in the New Hall (now known as Lupton Hall), Bedales School, Sheet, mid-1920s
Reconstructing the Sotherington Barn, Bedales School, Sheet, early 1980s.
Memorial Library, Bedales School, Sheet, designed by Edward Gimson and built 1920-21