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History of Wardour School

Wardour School has been in existence for well over 200 years and probably qualifies as the oldest Catholic School in the State Sector. As early as 1780, it is mentioned by the Vicar of Tisbury to the Bishop of Salisbury, as a ‘non-conformist institution’.

That a Roman Catholic school should appear in Wardour is no surprise, as it was situated on the estate of the Arundell family, who had remained staunchly Catholic during the Reformation and the troubled times that followed. Wardour was a mixed boarding school during the 1780s, with Catholic children coming from all over the area and farther afield to gain a Catholic education. By 1791, it was taking boys only and, later again, it became a Charity day School. Most of the children attending would have been from the Catholic families employed on the Arundell estate.

The school’s popularity spread and in 1801 it was taking fee-paying pupils from Tisbury – 1/- per child per week! The original site of the school is not known, but in the mid-1850s, Lord Arundell erected today’s building – to accommodate 300 pupils!  Boys and girls were taught separately, with Infants in a nearby house.

From 1871, following the Education Act, the school became part of the state maintained system as a Voluntary Aided School. Log books became a legal requirement and these make fascinating reading today.

It was then a co-educational Junior school; the Infants joined in 1880. For about 80 years, until 1964, the Sisters of Charity ran the school, with pupils up to 15 years old. In 1964 the Sisters moved to Salisbury and it became a true Primary School. With some additions – particularly the new rooms at the back – the school still looks much as it has done since the 1850s. We are proud of our history which helps to make our school the very special place it is today.

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