Mowden Hall School was founded in Darlington by Mr Frank Marchbank in 1935. The School was evacuated to Fallbarrow, Windermere, at the start of the war, before acquiring its present impressive site at Newton Hall, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1945. Originally a traditional, boys-only, boarding preparatory school, Mowden Hall soon became well-known as one of the north’s leading schools. Mowden has welcomed girls since 1982, and opened a Pre-Prep Department in 1993.
Much work was done in the School’s early years at Newton to convert the former home of the Joicey family, which had been built in 1835 by the distinguished northern architect John Dobson, into a fully-functioning prep school.
Today, Mowden is a fully co-educational school, with a Nursery for children aged 3 – 4, a Pre-Prep Department for those aged 4 – 8 (Reception and Years 1 – 3), and the Preparatory School for those aged 8 – 13 (Years 4 – 8). The boy to girl ratio varies within each year group, but overall is approximately 50% boys and 50% girls throughout the School. Neal and Nici Bailey have two children who attend the Pre-Prep. The family lives in the heart of the School.
The dormitories, dining rooms, common rooms, library and Headmaster’s House are all in the main building, with an adjoining classroom block and IT rooms. The original stable yard was converted in 1992 to house additional classrooms, the Science laboratories and Art room. The Pre-Prep building was designed specifically and built adjacent to the School in 1993. The Nursery comprises of a brand new wing, which was officially opened in September 2014. The Prep, Pre-Prep and Nursery are all one school, and all facilities and resources are shared. Situated within an idyllic rural setting 14 miles west of Newcastle upon Tyne, Mowden enjoys stunning views over the Tyne valley. Fifty-five acres of grounds and woodland provide the perfect playground for our pupils.
If you wish to know more about the early years of the School, you can read the Founder’s own entertaining history, covering the years 1935-1958.
Below is a timeline, showing the main developments that have occurred over the course of the School’s 80-year history.
1940 The school was evacuated to Fallbarrow, Windermere.
1945 The school moved to its present site at Newton in Northumberland at the end of the war.
1962 Mowden became a charitable trust with a Board of Governors.
1962 The swimming pool was installed, but being outdoor and unheated, its use was limited to the finer days of June and July.
1968 The rolling parkland was levelled and drained to create good playing surfaces for sports. Four new cottages were built to house staff and their families.
1969 A modern classroom block was built.
1981 The sports hall was completed.
1982 In September a terrible fire swept through the main building, causing major damage, but fortunately no casualties. Rebuilding took place over the year that followed, during which time, lessons took place in temporary buildings and former classrooms made way for dormitories. The first girls entered the school and Mowden soon became fully co-educational.
1989 A purpose-built and highly practical theatre was constructed, which enabled music and drama to flourish as never before. It was opened by the actor Robert Hardy.
1993 The Pre-Prep Department was opened by Professor David Bellamy and has been a thriving section of the School ever since.
1992 The former stables and out-houses were reconstructed to provide modern and spacious teaching facilities for Art, Science, Maths and English.
1996 Mowdenians in their 7th Year started spending a term at the spectacular Château de Sauveterre, near Toulouse in south-west France. By agreement with the château’s owners, Cothill School in Oxfordshire, Mowdenians still benefit from a whole term being taught French and all other subjects by French teachers, as well as making many invaluable educational and cultural trips in the region.
1999 The swimming pool was enclosed, heated and extensively modernised.
1998 A nursery school was set up in Arts Cottage, providing a natural transition for young pupils to move into the reception class of the pre-prep, next door.
2001 A new playing field was prepared and laid out to take three hockey and rugby pitches behind the staff houses. A new cricket pavilion was built alongside the cricket pitch established on Park Field.
2004 Extensive renovations took place at the Château de Sauveterre, resulting in a thoroughly up-to-date teaching and living environment in what is still a beautiful 1820s building, containing much of the original furniture and fittings.
2007 Mowden Hall becomes part of the Cothill Educational Trust, ensuring the School’s long-term stability, continuity and success.