OD Club – Junior School

History of Dover College Junior School

The Beginning’s 1871 – 1918

To find the beginning of Dover College Junior School, one has to go back to the founding of Dover College on the 12th September 1871.

A gentleman called Robert Chignall (1840 – 1925) opened a small preparatory school in what is now St Martin’s House at Dover College in the 1860s for his main school at Westmount on the Folkestone Road.

In 1871 the Dover College Company Limited was set up and Robert Chignall relinquished all financial interests in St Martin’s House.

By the end of the year, pupil numbers at Dover College had risen to twenty – one. Most were under fourteen, now thought of as being preparatory school age. One boy was just nine and several were ten. Of those twenty-one, nine were of public-school age, the oldest being fifteen. There were seven boarders and fourteen dayboys.[1]

It could be argued that in fact the Junior School did in fact start on the same date as the Senior School – Dover College.

It was only later that the two age groups were split, rather than the perception that younger boys were only introduced when the Junior school was created as a separate, stand-alone entity.

It was not until 1892 that the Junior School was established, which was one of the first acts the new Headmaster of the College, the Revd. Canon W. C. Compton. MA, when he took over as Headmaster from the Revd. Canon W. Bell. MA

This could have been done for two probable reasons

  • To create space due to the increased demand for places.
  • The new Headmaster was not happy with the current situation in which boys of ten and eleven were accommodated in the same house as young men.

It was at this point in January 1893 that the College rented a large grey Victorian Mansion called “Westmount”, which was situated just off the Folkestone Road, resulting in the Junior School being officially established, it was at this point that the Headmaster Revd. Canon W. C. Compton, appointed A.H. Atkinson, MA, as the first Master of Juniors, a position that would stay until 1973, when the position of Headmaster of the Junior School was established,

By 1895, the Junior school register had risen to 49, which comprised of sixteen boarders and thirty-three-day boys.

In 1901 A. H. Atkinson left his position as Master of Juniors, to take up a post as Headmaster of Brockhurst School in Shrewsbury.

H. Montauban, MA. as the new Master of Juniors, a position he would hold until 1909, It was during this period that not only academic and sport was established within the Junior school curriculum, but also this period would see gas lighting installed into the class rooms together with new baths and showers being installed.

In 1903 Mr. and Mrs. Montauban held a dance for the boy’s at Christmas time, and by 1905 it had progressed to a supper. Electricity was installed in 1906, and by 1908 a debating society had established its self, which was to flourish for a number of years.

In 1909 E. H. Montauban suddenly left the Junior School to take up an appointment as Headmaster of “The Hall” in Hampstead. This left headmaster of the College, Revd. Cannon Compton with a problem, as he himself was due to leave the College to take up a position as Rector of Sandhurst in Kent.

It might well have been that he would assume that the new incoming Headmaster of the College would want to appoint his own man, as Master of Juniors, which goes some way as to explain why he appointed R. H. S. Truell. MA. as “Senior Resident Master” of the Junior School, a position he held until 1911.

It was under the leadership of R. H. S. Truell that both music and cricket standards rose, however there is no mention of academic standards within the editions of the “Dovorian” during this time.

With the appointment of Revd. Frank de W Lushington, MA in 1910 as the new headmaster of the College, it wasn’t long before the new headmaster appointed G. R. Hunt M.A, as the new Master of Juniors in 1911, an appointment from outside the current teaching staff.

However, the long shadow of the First World War was being felt, It was not long before members of his teaching staff left, after being “Called up”.

As a result of the effects of the First World War, numbers were dropping as parents reluctant to send there children to the College, which was perceived to being near to the front, all this against a backdrop of War, which was not helped when in August 1917 a serious air raid on Dover resulted in a bomb blowing out windows of both School and Priory Houses at the College.

It was a result of this raid that the Headmaster and the Governors took the decision to evacuate, both the senior and junior school to Leamington Spar in Warwickshire on the 12th October 1917. Once more R. H. S. Truell was again asked to take over as “Acting Mater of Juniors”, a post he would hold until 1919, as a result of G. R. Hunt being called up, never to return to the Junior School.

1918 saw the end of the First World War, resulting in a real possibility that the junior school would not return to Dover, however after a number of possibility’s had been considered and dismissed due to practical reasons, it was decided that the junior school would return to Dover with the senior school, but needed a new man to lead and revitalize the Junior school after this period of war and uncertainty.

Westmount on the Folkestone Road

Revd. Canon W. C. Compton. MA Headmaster 1892 – 1910

W. S. Lee, MA Headmaster 1915 – 1934

E. H. Montauban MA, Mater of Juniors 1901 – 1909

Dover College Junior School Sports Day at Maxon 1911

1919 – 1940 Between the World Wars

In September 1919 the junior school returned to Westmount in Dover, their home before the evacuation, almost immediately the headmaster of the College, W. S. Lee MA, appointed E. W. Rowen MA. as Master of Juniors who was a graduate of Dublin University, which by all accounts, was a tall, dark bachelor, noted for his gentlemanly behaviour.

As a result, the junior school prospered, and it is reported in the “Dovorian” that by the end of 1920 was “Full to over flowing”, unfortunately it seems that E. W. Rowen was not as fit as expected, his illness was serious enough that in 1923, Captain F. H. L. Lewin RN took over as acting Master of Juniors for a term.

1923 was a critical year for both the Junior School as well as the College, as it was during this time that their existence changed. This was as a result of a number of Old Dovorians, who felt as a memorial to those of their number killed in the Great War, the College should be bought from the shareholders, and debentures paid off, resulting in “The Dover College Company Limited” being wound up and an Association Name “Dover College” was formed, resulting in a Royal Charter being granted by King George V on 30th October 1923.

By the end of 1924 E. W. Rowen had left and was replaced by the junior schools first and as yet only Master of Juniors who was a former pupil, Lt. Cmdr. J. N. Benbow RN.

He was particularly enthusiastic about all types of sport. Under his stewardship by January of 1929 the register had increased seventy-four, during this period the school day started with breakfast at 8am, with lights out at 8pm, with games being played until light tea at 4 pm, from 4.15pm until 5.45pm there were lessons before supper.

By the end of 1933 Cmdr. Benbow had left to take up his new post as Secretary of the Royal Humane Society, just as the numbers started to fall due to the recession in the 1930’s. The Headmaster W. S. Lee appointed C. F. Holland MA, His third Master of Juniors, a graduate of Keble College Oxford.

By 1935 Rugby had reappeared to everyone’s pleasure, it was during this time that once again the rumblings of a World War were beginning to be heard, yet the mood this time was that it was more a question of when would war broke out, as opposed to if war would break out, by 1937 there were twenty-three boarders and twenty-seven dayboys, a Boy scout troop had been set up.

At the outbreak of the Second World War in the autumn 1939, the College was evacuated to first Blundell’s School for a term, and then to Poltimore, whilst the Junior school was evacuated to Ashamstead School, in Seaford, Sussex with twenty – five boys, which was not the most sound fanatically option available at the time.

Unfortunately, this move was to prove disastrous, and it was not long before Mr. Renwick, the Headmaster of the College was hearing from C. F. Holland, saying that he could not continue as thing were, as a result it was decided that the Junior school should close for the duration of the current emergency, this also saw the end of C. F. Holland’s tenure as Master of Juniors at the beginning of 1940.

E. W. Rowen, MA, Master of Juniors 1919 – 1924

Lt – Cdr J. N. Benbow RN, Master of Juniors 1924 – 1933

1946 – 1968, Life after the Second World War

By the time the Second World War had ended, there were hardly any Junior School boys left, this was against the back drop that Westmount House was no longer available, due to the fact that the lease had run out and was not available to re new.

The Governors and the Headmaster of the College wanted a junior school, but a suitable property was not available, despite an extensive search, with this in mind, as well as the set-up cost of refurnishing the junior school, as a lot of the equipment from Westmount had been absorbed into the College during its evacuation to Poltimore in 1939.

The problem was partly resolved when 16 Effingham Crescent, just outside the College grounds became available when the Dover Library moved, this resulted in the College acquiring the building and obtained permission to turn it into a junior dayboy house called “Dwarf House” in 1946.

L. Baxter M. A. was duly appointed Master of Juniors of the newly established Junior School, which under his leadership, slow grew and constituted a junior “Form 111” , this meant that they were part of the College on one hand but were not on the other hand.

In January 1948 S. L. Baxter left, to take up a new post as Headmaster of Crosby Grammar School, his successor Mr. F. M. White BSc, was duly appointed as Master of Juniors, F. M. White had been a Master at the College since 1944.

1954 saw the retirement of Mr. G. Renwick as Headmaster of the College and the appointment of Mr. M. A. Peterson. OBE, MA, as the new Headmaster of the College. It was during this period that it was agreed that a Senior dayboy house should be established and that the junior school should be re-established as a mater of some urgency, as a result of this decision, the White’s and the Junior School were relocated to Crescent House, by the end of 1956.

A. Peterson and the Governors decided that as proper Junior School was being re-established, they should take this opportunity to appoint a new master of juniors.

The junior school continued to grow, by 1957 the junior school register recorded forty pupils, it was at this time that M. A. Peterson acquired the lease of Riverdale, a large gabled house in the village of River just outside Dover.

A. Peterson and the Governors of Dover College envisaged a feeder preparatory school of between seventy and eighty boys aged between eleven and thirteen. In September 1957, M. A. Peterson and the board of Governors appointed Mr. R. H. S Rottenbury M.A as their new Master of Juniors of the new Dover College Junior School based at its new location at Riverdale.

Within eleven years, Junior School quickly outgrew its Riverdale location in River, and needed to move into bigger premises to accommodate the increasing number of pupils – which consisted of  boys only in those days.

F. W. White, BSc, Master of Juniors 1948 – 1957

R. H. S Rottenbury MA, Master of Juniors 1957 – 1973, Headmaster of Junior School 1973 – 1986

Open Day at Riverdale in River, Dover

1968 – 1994, Dover College Junior School in Folkstone

In 1968 the Junior School merged with Westbrook House School, which was situated on Shorncliffe Road in Folkestone, this new institution retained the name Dover College Junior School.

Many of the Riverdale staff and pupils transferred to Folkestone, alongside those who came from Westbrook House

Over the next few years, the junior school spread itself out over four Victorian houses on Shorncliffe Road, numbers 50 to 56. The previous owner of Westbrook House School, Mr. Ken Foster had already had their back gardens laid to concrete to create a playground.

In 1973 R. H. S Rottenbury. was official appointed as Headmaster of the Junior School, for the first time the junior school was in control of their own destiny.

The Westbrook Hall, which had been completed after a four-year fund-raising project, was finally opened on 10th September 1977 by Mr Peter Johnson, Chairman of Governors.

In 1978, The tradition of ‘Carols by Candlelight’, when boarders came down to the Hall in pyjamas and wrapped in red blankets, was begun at this time and continued to be a traditional Christmas event.

In September 1981, the Junior School, which had preparatory school status to take both day and boarding, boys and girls now, through to Common Entrance at the age of thirteen.

After the Common Entrance examination, the Junior School fed its pupils mainly to Dover College senior school in Dover, but also to a selection of other public schools, such as Harrow, Westminster, Benenden, Roedean, Dulwich, Cranbrook, Sevenoaks, St Edmund’s, amongst others.

During the latter part of the Lent term 1984 and led by George Sharman, the School Choir famously journeyed to Rome to sing for Pope John-Paul II in the Vatican. Their performance was the first time that a British choir had been fortunate enough to have an audience with the Pope. It was the experience of a lifetime for the children and staff who went on the tour.

In the Autumn term of 1985, R. H. S. Rottenbury fell seriously ill for the second time in his career at the Junior School, finally retiring due ill health in 1986.

This was a very traumatic period for the School. It was during this time that the news came through that the Dover College Bursar had been tragically killed in a car accident, and the news about the imminent demise of the Junior School, which resulted in many of the parents uniting to save the school by loaning/donating as much money as they could afford into a central rescue fund.

A Parents’ Association was consequently formed, with Roger De Haan as Chairman, the salvaged school continued on its present site, resulting In 1986, N. J.  Brodrick being appointed as the new Head of Juniors,

in 1990 saw the name of the school changed from Dover College Junior School to Dover College Preparatory School. The junior school had always held preparatory school status, now it had the name to prove it.

In 1991, the house adjacent to preparatory school in Marten Road was purchased to convert into what became known as the Music House. The Music Department, under the direction of George Sharman, assisted primarily by Barbara Mountjoy, was going from strength to strength and was fast outgrowing its ‘terrapin’ mobile classroom in the playground.

In 1992, N. I.  Brodrick left the school to take up a post as Headmaster of a day school in the Home Counties. Resulting in Mr.  S.  Abbott being appointed as the new Head of Juniors.

It was during 1993 that the preparatory school celebrated the 100th anniversary of Dover College’s early days at Westmount,

In 1994, it was decided that the school should become completely autonomous and thereafter reverted back to its old name, Westbrook House Preparatory School

Westbrook House

1971, R. H. S. Rottenbury MA, meets HRH Duchess of Kent at Dover College, as part of the Colleges Centenary celebrations

Outdoor swimming pool at DCJS, Westbrook House

DCJS Playing field at Westbrook House

DCJS, Westbrook Hall

2001 to The Present Day, The Junior School returns to Dover

It was not until 2001, that Dover College Junior School (Known as the– Infant & Junior Department) was reborn in the old Dover College International Centre (two houses situated on the Folkestone Road side of the school grounds).

So after 108 years, apart from a year in 1945 to 46 when the Junior school was housed within the College grounds, the Junior school returned and located in the grounds of Dover College, although it was separate to the senior school, with its own Head of Juniors, and stand alone common room, under the leadership of Lesley Nell from 2001 to 2003

In 2003, Heather Miller, who was one of the first teachers to be employed became the Head of the Infant & Junior Dept. A post she held until 2011.

It was in 2011, Rachel Morley then became Head of the Infant and Junior Department until 2016, when Fiona Donnelly took over as Head of Infants and Junior Department.

It was with the appointment of Mr Gareth Doodes as Headmaster of the College, that the Infant and Junior Department, became Dover College Prep School, it was at this point that Mr Doodes also took over as |Headmaster of not only the Senior School but also the Prep school.

The interesting point is that we have seen the circle being completed, the last time the Headmaster of the Senior School, being also Headmaster of the Junior / Prep school took place, we have to go back to when Revd. Canon W. C. Compton. MA in 1893, being the last Headmaster before Mr Doodes to hold both posts.

Mr Doodes, continued to be both Head of Seniors and Juniors, until he left to take up a new appointment at Kings Worcester in September 2020.

In September 2020. Mr Simon Fisher BA, was appointed by the board of guvnors, as Headmaster of both the Senior and Prep School.

Mr Gareth Doodes MA, 2016 – 2020

Mr Simon Fisher BA, 2020 –