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Wiltshire Community History

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Prior Park Preparatory School, Cricklade

Prior Park Preparatory School, Cricklade Date Photo Taken 2003
Uploaded 25/10/2007 08:29:35
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

In 1946 a preparatory school was needed for Prior Park College, the independent Catholic senior school in Bath that was run by the Christian Brothers. Nothing suitable being available in Bath the Brothers obtained the Cotswold stone 'manor house', largely rebuilt in the 19th century, known as The Hermitage, at Calcutt Street in Cricklade. It was said to have been built on the site of a medieval hermitage. The land comprised about 31 acres including vegetable gardens, greenhouses, an orchard and land suitable for playing fields. The house would take 62 boys and it was intended to build an extension so that a total of 100 could be accommodated.

The Christian Brothers took over the house on 26th August and opened the school on 18th September 1946. There was a headmaster and four teaching brothers and these were later supplemented by Brother Novices, who spent two years at the school to gain experience before moving to teacher training college, and lay staff, for subjects that were not specialisms of the available brothers. The drawing room of the original house was converted to a chapel and blessed by the Bishop of Clifton when he opened the school. In 1947 more classrooms, a refectory and recreation rooms were built. New dormitories were built in 1962 and in the mid 1960s there were 100 boarders. A new chapel and hall were added in 1967. In the 1970s day boys were taken.

Unexpectedly on 7th March 1980 the Christian Brothers told the lay members of staff that they would be leaving Cricklade and Bath immediately. The school was sold and from 1981 was under lay management. Day girls were later admitted and the school is now a co-educational boarding and day preparatory school. An Information and Communications Technology room was opened in 1997, the theatre was improved in 1998, and a fully equipped sports hall opened in 2000. Meadow Park Pre-Prep and Nursery School has bee built in the grounds, adjacent to the original school, and in 2002 there were 58 boarders and 134 day pupils aged from 6 months to 13 years.

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