At the suggestion of the Master of Dulwich College, Thomas Mason opened Dulwich College Preparatory School for 13 pupils in January 1885. Links with the College are strong, however Dulwich Prep London has never been an integral part of it. Such was the Prep’s reputation that within two years pupil numbers had risen over a hundred. Today, known simply as Dulwich Prep London, it has become one of the most prestigious, and largest, preparatory schools in the country.
The Prep, which moved to its present site in 1893, enjoyed a period of steady growth and stability during the first part of the last century. Events marking the centenary of WWI, especially the installation of our wall of plaques commemorating former pupils and staff who gave their lives for their country, brought to life the sacrifices made during this period of the school’s history.
From 1891 pupils who boarded lived in the homes of the Headmaster and members of staff, but during the war a home for boarders was acquired at Brightlands on Gallery Road. Although boarding was discontinued in 2018 Brightlands remained a central part of our wrap around care provision for pupils until 2020.
In 1938 the then headmaster, John Leakey, devised a plan should evacuation from London become necessary. He established a campus in the orchard on his father-in-law’s land at Coursehorn, near Cranbrook, Kent. In 1939 the school evacuated to Cranbrook however, due to the risk of invasion it moved again, and spent the rest of the war in Betws-y-Coed in North Wales.The affiliated school, Dulwich Prep Cranbrook, is still there today. A small sub-section of the Prep reopened in London in 1940. Despite considerable upheaval and the hardships of the time, the school returned to Dulwich in 1945 and steadily regained its pre-war reputation.
In 1957 the school became a Charitable Educational Trust, thus securing its future. Since then more land has been acquired, new buildings constructed and old ones totally renovated. All levels of the school now have modern facilities.
‘A new era’
On 1st September 2011 the school’s name was changed to Dulwich Prep London, launching a new and exciting era in its growth and development.
Development of facilities
A spacious teaching block called the Betws Building was opened in 1995, a self-contained music school in 1989 and a fully equipped sports hall in 2008. A new Early Years building was opened on Gallery Road in 2007 and continues to flourish.
The opening of the Pennock Centre, a fantastic Science, Design Technology and Cookery building, named after the former Chairman of Governors, David Pennock, was opened in 2015. Complete with a rooftop observatory, wildflower garden and photovoltaic cell roof paneling this wonderful facility is full of living examples of sustainability and everyday science for our pupils to explore.
We have continued to thrive towards excellence with the opening of our new Lower School building and Dining Hall linking our current Drama studio and Middle and Upper School buildings and providing our pupils with large, dynamic spaces and impressive functionality.
In 2019 we welcomed our new Head Master, Miss Louise Davidson, to the Dulwich Prep London community.