History of Worksop College
Worksop College was the last school to be founded by Canon Nathaniel Woodard before his death in 1891; like Thring and Arnold he was a pioneering Victorian educational reformer. It was left to Henry Meynell to ensure that Woodard’s vision was realised and the College opened in September 1895 with five Masters and 44 boys. A generous gift of land from the Duke of Newcastle’s Clumber estate has been extended over the years to provide the 310 acre estate on which the College stands today.
Success led to rapid expansion and within two years the College consisted of four dorms, Cross, Fleur de Lys, Lion and Crown, which became the foundations of the first four Houses, Mason, Pelham, Mountgarret and Talbot. In the years leading up to the First World War much building took place, the crowning achievement being the creation of St. Cuthbert’s Chapel between 1909 and 1911.
Under the inspired headmastership of Canon Fred Shirley the College underwent significant change in the 1920s and 1930s – many of the buildings around the cloisters were added, two new Houses opened, School House and Shirley, football was replaced with rugby – and the College developed a national reputation.
Rapid growth occurred in post-war years, initially with the acquisition of Ranby House School which allowed the Prep School to move off site and its buildings to be taken over by a seventh House, Portland. Further development saw the adding of many facilities, amongst them the indoor swimming pool, the Churchill Hall, the Chemistry Laboratories and more classrooms. In the 1970s girls were admitted to the College for the first time and by the mid 1980s the College was fully co-educational, the girls housed in Gibbs and Derry which replaced two boys’ Houses, Mountgarret and School House.
Since the centenary celebrations in 1995 constant re-development has seen the addition of a new Music School, two new computer centres, a Sports Hall, two flood-lit astroturfs, an 18 hole golf course, two completely new departments, Modern Languages and Food and Nutrition, and the building of a new girls’ boarding house. The growth in numbers has enabled the re-opening of School House, a third house for girls.
The College is part of the Woodard Corporation which owns some 23 independent schools, amongst them Lancing, Bloxham and Ellesmere, which form a core of a much larger group of schools that includes two Academies, many independent schools, grammar schools, comprehensive schools and schools across the world – all of them linked by the Anglican ethos centred on Nathaniel Woodard’s vision of a Christian education for young people.
In December 2010, Worksop College joined with its sister Woodard Prep School, Ranby House, to become a single, co-educational, independent day and boarding school for 3 to 18 year olds.