In the late forties Miss Crystal Holme was asked to help with the education of some of the children of the staff at Winchester College. This she gladly did, establishing a small school in her home in Christchurch Road, at which the children received an excellent grounding in the basic subjects with as much additional stimulation as possible.
In 1952 Miss Holme purchased 36 Edgar Road as her new home for the rapidly expanding school. At the same time the close association with the College had declined as Miss Holme wanted an establishment that she could run according to her own ideas and methods. As her brother was working at a school called King`s Mead, Miss Holme decided that her own establishment for younger children should be called Prince`s Mead.
Miss Holme wanted a school where meeting the needs of every child should be the guiding principle and believed that ‘There is a spark in every child’. This guiding principle continues to underpin the values of Prince’s Mead School to this day.
In 1973 Prince’s Mead School saw a change, not in ethos or emphasis, but in organisation when, during an illness, Miss Holme asked Mrs Elizabeth Irving-Bell to take over headship of the school as her deputy. On Miss Holmes’ recovery, Mrs Irving-Bell retained the position of Headmistress. She set about producing an orderly organisation because she believed that staff should be able to be relaxed and happy in their work.
The 1980s was a decade of change for education throughout the country, with the establishment of guidelines for staff and the coming of the National Curriculum. In Prince’s Mead other changes were afoot. In 1982 Mrs Holme began to feel her age and, having run Prince’s Mead for 33 years, decided to convert it into a charitable trust.
Mrs Irving-Bell continued as Headmistress and during her tenure the school continued to grow. In 1984 the house next to the school in Lansdowne Road was purchased and Holme House set up to house the children in their early years at school.
In 1987 the school entered the third phase of its growth as Mrs Irving-Bell retired and Mrs Donna Moore took over as Headmistress. The school continued to expand and building work in 1989 saw the school take possession of a new gym, dining hall and classrooms. In 1995 a house on south side of Lansdowne Road was purchased, providing an art room, more classrooms, staff facilities and a lovely garden. It also enabled the oldest children to be separated from the youngest and treated slightly differently in their last year before secondary school. Mrs Moore also led the school to full IAPS membership in 1990.
In 1999, in need of larger premises to house the expanding school, Prince’s Mead moved to Worthy Park House in Kings Worthy. This building had a wonderful history prior to becoming our school.
In 2002, Mrs Donna Moore retired and Miss Penn Kirk took over as Headmistress. Miss Kirk’s tenure started with significant investment in the development of Prince’s Mead’s sporting facilities. The facilities are now some of the best in Hampshire and include more than 10 acres of some of the best grass playing areas in the county, a multi-purpose sports centre, indoor cricket nets, two brand new dual use tennis and netball courts, a traversing wall, and two exemplary cricket pitches.
Miss Kirk, as those before her, continued to work tirelessly to bring out the spark in each and every child. This work was most recently recognised on our latest ISI report, where we were awarded the highest mark of excellent is every aspect of school life. Miss Kirk has now retired after 16 years of service and hands the headship over to Mr Peter Thacker from September 2018. Mr Thacker has come to the Kings Worthy school from Lambrook School in Ascot, a high achieving co-ed day and boarding school where he was a much-loved Deputy Head.
On being appointed Mr Thacker commented, “I am delighted to have been selected to lead Prince’s Mead in the next phase of its development, building on the excellent work and strong foundations laid by Miss Kirk. Over the last few days and weeks I have experienced the magic of Prince’s Mead as a place of learning, a source of lifelong memories and, above all, a place where children want to be. It will be an extraordinary privilege to work alongside an outstanding team of staff in seeking to provide the very best possible support for pupils to grow and fulfil their natural potential in a most breath-taking environment.”
Mr Thacker joins Prince’s Mead during another period of building expansion. This building project will see the main house extended to provide light and airy dining facilities and additional classrooms.
As a school, we are situated on a site where it is believed houses have stood since Saxon times but in the past three centuries there have been two Worthy Park Houses. The present house was built in 1820 and designed by the revered architect Sir Robert Smirke. Its impressive position with its extensive grounds, overlooking the Itchen Valley is a perfect home for the pupils of the school. Prince’s Mead was founded in 1949 in Winchester and moved to its present location in 1999.
The first house was built in 1722. This was subsequently demolished and a new mansion was constructed on the site in 1820 by Sir Charles Ogle.
His descendants retained the house until it ceased to be a private residence. The drawing room with its panelled ceiling survives today, as does the large and impressive mirror which dominates one end of the room.
If you would like to find out more about the fascinating history of Worthy Park House, a booklet has been printed all about the various houses on the site and the people who lived there. Rich in detail with colourful photographs, it makes a wonderful read.
Please contact the School to purchase a copy of The History of Worthy Park House (£5 plus p&p).