Aldenham School

Aldenham School
AldenhamSchool Crest.JPG
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Coordinates51°39′48″N 00°19′40″W / 51.66333°N 0.32778°W / 51.66333; -0.32778Coordinates: 51°39′48″N 00°19′40″W / 51.66333°N 0.32778°W / 51.66333; -0.32778
TypePublic School
Private day and boarding
MottoIn God Is All Our Trust
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1597; 426 years ago (1597)
FounderRichard Platt
Department for Education URN117602 Tables
Chair of GovernorsMrs S Altman
Head of FoundationMrs Alex Hems
Head of Senior SchoolMr Andy Williams
Age3 to 18
Houses7 houses McGill's, Paull's, Leeman's, Riding's, Kennedy's, Beevor's, Martineau's, Woodrow's
Colour(s)Black and Gold    
Former pupilsOld Aldenhamians

Aldenham School is a co-educational independent school for pupils aged eleven to eighteen, located between Elstree and the village of Aldenham in Hertfordshire, England. There is also a preparatory school for pupils from the ages of five to eleven. It was founded in the late sixteenth century by Richard Platt.


Richard Platt in 1600

The school was founded in 1597 by Richard Platt, owner of a City of London brewery and Master of the Worshipful Company of Brewers in 1576 and 1581. In 1596, Queen Elizabeth I granted him letters patent to build "the Free Grammar School and Almshouses" at Aldenham; the foundation stone was laid in 1597. Before Platt died in 1600 he obtained an endowment for the School by a covenant between himself and the Brewers' Company. It became a free village grammar school for young boys, also taking in private pupils.[1]

In the early 19th century an investigation by the Education Charities Commission of the Poor led to the Tudor Grammar School being demolished and replaced by two new schools: a lower school providing an elementary education for the local population, and a grammar school for fee paying boarders.[2]

In the late 1860s, the Platt estate in St Pancras, which provided the endowment of the school, was compulsorily purchased for the construction of the St Pancras railway station, and the Midland Railway had to pay compensation of £91,000, equivalent to £8,942,914 in 2021. In a measure described by the headmaster of the time as "a violent act of confiscation", the Endowed Schools Commissioners, acting under the Endowed Schools Act 1869, diverted more than half of this money to other schools. In their scheme approved in 1875, £20,000 went to the North London Collegiate School and Camden School for Girls, £13,333 6s 8d to support secondary education in Watford (see § History of the Watford Grammar Schools), £10,000 to Russell Lane School, Southgate, and £8,000 to two elementary schools, Medburn School, Radlett, and Delrow School, Aldenham.[2]

The school expanded during the 20th century, and in the 1970s girls were admitted, thus paving the way for the school to become fully co-educational.

A new Sixth Form Centre was opened in 2012 providing study and recreation facilities for Sixth Formers under one roof.

In the summer of 2016, restorations were carried out on Beevor's and McGill's House, improving and updating the boarding facilities. Owing to the increasing number of girls in the school, in September 2017 Riding's House became a girls' day house.


In 1997, Aldenham celebrated its 400th anniversary, or Quatercentenary, which led to what was known at 'The 400 Appeal' being established. Through different events the appeal aimed to raise as much money as possible, to help the school expand ready for the 21st century.[citation needed]

The Quatercentenary began with a launch party with fireworks and a re-enactment of Richard Platt receiving the letters patent from Elizabeth I to build the school.[citation needed] There was also an OA Reunion Day and a 'Festival of the Car', along with a football match: Aldenham vs Watford F.C.[citation needed]

The school was also visited during the year by The Princess Royal, who came to open the new artificial turf pitch that had been built as a result of money raised by the appeal.[3]

Aldenham and its Influence on Football[edit]

Football has been a major sport at Aldenham since the dawn of the game. In 1825 Aldenham became the second place, after Eton College, to write down rules for its code of football.[4][5] [6] The Football Annual of 1873, edited by Charles W. Alcock, famous secretary of the Football Association and of Surrey County Cricket Club, states that Aldenham School Football Club was founded in 1825. This makes Aldenham School boast the title of having the earliest organised football club in the history of the game (something often awarded to Sheffield which began several years later in 1854). The original facsimile of Aldenham's entry in this 1873 Football Annual relating to this point, held by the Football Association itself, and being from such an authoritative source is perhaps grounds for the legal view that it is conclusive evidence. The late JR Witty, for so long on the staff of the Football Association wrote, "It was at such schools as Eton, Harrow, Westminster, Shrewsbury, Winchester and Aldenham and the like that Association Football, governed by the Laws of the Game which now operate, had its real formation."[7]

The Good Schools Guide called Aldenham "A seriously sporty school", as well as "Intensely competitive."[8]


Beevor's House c.1910
McGill's House

Aldenham has six senior houses and two junior houses.[9]

  • McGill's, senior, boarding boys and some day boys
  • Beevor's, senior, boarding boys and some day boys
  • Kennedy's, senior, boarding boys and some day boys
  • Paull's, senior, boarding and day girls
  • Riding's, senior, formerly day boys, now day girls
  • Leeman's, senior, day boys
  • Martineau's, junior boarding and day, boys and girls.
  • Woodrow's, junior day boys and girls

Arts and culture[edit]

A Stanley Spencer painting of The Crucifixion was commissioned by the Master of the Brewers Company, for the Aldenham School Chapel in 1958.[10] Aldenham was used to film additional interior scenes in the 1968 classic British film If...., directed by Lindsay Anderson. The most frequently used room was the main school Dining Room containing the portrait of Aldenham's founder Richard Platt. Aldenham was used for scenes in Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005 film).[citation needed] It was used for some scenes in the British satire Greed (2019 film).


Before the school was rebuilt and enlarged in 1824, the head of the school was known as the Master. The founder, Richard Platt, arranged that when there was a vacancy, St John's College, Cambridge, was to nominate three Masters of Arts, from whom the Brewers' Company would appoint one.[11]

  • Thomas Neale (1598–1623)
  • Roland Greenwood (1623–1634)
  • Christopher Smyth (1634–1643)
  • Robert Cresswell (1643–1648)
  • Jeremy Collier (1648–1653)
  • William Elliot (1653–1663)
  • Andrew Campion (1663–1673)
  • William Swayne (1673–1678)
  • Randolph Nicoll (1678–1703)
  • John Button (1703–1703)
  • Francis Thompson (1703–1714)
  • Allen Allenson (1714–1738)
  • Gilber Allenson (1738–1757)
  • William Ellis (1757–1767)
  • Joseph Cantrell (1767–1774)
  • Samuel White (1774–1785)
  • Rice Hughes (1785–1792)
  • John Griffin (1792–1799)
  • Methusalem Davies (1800–1823)
  • Joseph Summersby (1823–1825)

Heads of the Aldenham Foundation[edit]

  • Jonathan Wilkinson (1824–1833)
  • Richard Foster (1834–1836)
  • Thomas Spyers (1836–1842)
  • Alfred Leeman (1843–1876)
  • John Kennedy (1877–1899)
  • Alfred Cooke (1900–1920)
  • Harvey Beck (1920–1933)
  • George Riding (1933–1949)
  • Peter Mason (1949–1961)
  • Paul Griffin (1962–1974)
  • Peter Boorman (1974–1983)
  • Michael Higginbottom (1983–1994)
  • Stephen Borthwick (1994–2000)[12]
  • Richard Harman (2000–2006)
  • James Fowler (2006–2022)
  • Alex Hems (2022–)[13]

Notable Old Aldenhamians[edit]


  1. ^ William Page, ed. (1908). "Aldenham". A History of the County of Hertford: volume 2. Victoria County History. pp. 149–161. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
  2. ^ a b R.J. Evans; J.K. Waddell (1969). The History and Register of Aldenham School (10th ed.). Aylesbury: Hazel Watson & Viney. p. 102.
  3. ^ "Royal visit marks school's 400 years". Watford Observer. 7 November 1998. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  4. ^ Richard William Cox; Dave Russell; Wray Vamplew (2002). Encyclopedia of British Football. Routledge. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-7146-5249-8.
  5. ^ Adrian Harvey (2005). Football: The FIrst Hundred Years, The Untold Story. Routledge. p. 197. ISBN 0-415-35019-0.
  6. ^ Martin Westby (2020). England's Oldest Football Clubs 1815-1889. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-9556378-4-1.
  7. ^ R. J Evans; J. K. Waddell (1969). The History and Register of Aldenham School (10th ed.). Aylesbury: Hazel Watson & Viney. p. 137,138.
  8. ^ Aldenham School Archived 30 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine, The Good Schools Guide.
  9. ^ "The House System". Aldenham School. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Richard Platt, Alderman" in Alfred Freer Torry, Founders and benefactors of St. John's college, Cambridge (Cambridge: W. Metcalfe & Son, 1888), p. 14
  12. ^ HMC Press Office, "Stephen Borthwick",, 4 January 2021, accessed 18 September 2021
  13. ^ Aldenham Blog, "New Head for Aldenham Foundation",, 25 November 2021, accessed 2 June 2022
  14. ^ "Obituary: John Debenham Taylor, intelligence officer". The Scotsman. 7 March 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  15. ^ Blackhurst, Chris (5 December 2007). "Playing to his strengths, the Beverly Hills Brit who's a self-help god". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 11 February 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2015.

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