Bedales - Head of Estates & Facilities


1893-1900 The School’s Foundation In 1900, the school moved its possessions by horse-drawn wagons and by train from their rented house, called ‘Bedales’ in Lindfield, near Haywards Heath to their new home. The school’s founder, John Haden Badley, had raised money through a sale of a property and through the generosity of his sisters to fund the purchase of Steephurst Farm near Petersfield. These 150 acres of sandy soil, oak and pine woods lay around a redbrick house, Steephurst and nearby lay a scattering of farm buildings and cottages. Funded again by his long suffering and munificent sisters - what an expensive baby brother to have - Badley set about erecting the New Buildings complete with servants hall to designs by E P Warren, who had recently been working for the author Henry James in Rye; it was built in the Jacobethan style and had a soaring oversize oriel window 40 feet high.

1921 Memorial Library The Great War killed young Bedalians in a way that shocked the school to the core. Boys who had been playing cricket in June were dead in November in the mud of Flanders. Badley wanted to commemorate these students but felt a library a more fitting memorial than the more predictable chapel. He commissioned Ernest Gimson to build in the style he had initiated in the New Hall, later the Lupton Hall, next door. The boldly engineered green oak frame twisting and cracking as it dried was sawn in a pit on site and it is one of the most remarkable libraries in Britain, rightly listed as Grade 1. The original estimates for its cost were to be £7,000, but this escalated to an alarming £13,800. It was funded charitably. Badley wrote in an early appeal, “A subscription list will be opened and a treasurer appointed, so that all who wish may help in this memorial to those whom we have lost, in whose honour nothing could be more fitting.”

1981 Sotherington Barn The Earl of Selborne offered the school an eighteenth century timber framed barn no longer suitable for modern agriculture. Under the inspirational leadership of the visionary Head of Outdoor Work, John Rogers, a team of students supervised by master builder Charlie Brentnall dismantled the building and re-erected the barn in the field behind the estate yard, the first of several such projects. This was funded entirely by donations and cost £30,000. Removing eight tonnes of old thatch and numbering every one of the 300 pieces of timber occupied 154 students, 15 Old Bedalians and 21 members of staff.

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