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School history

In 1557 Sir Antony Browne, the Lord Chief Justice, acquired the land on which Brentwood School was first built. During Mary Tudor's reign, hundreds of Protestants were burned at the stake and a well-known Brentwood Protestant, William Hunter, was ordered by Sir Antony Browne to be executed. This act may have led Sir Antony Browne to found Brentwood School.

Here is a brief timeline of developments at Brentwood School since its foundation.

  • 1557 Sir Antony Browne purchases Weald Hall (salvaged parts of which remain at the School) and land for the School.
  • 1558 Charter granted by Queen Mary Tudor. George Otway appointed first Headmaster.
  • 1568 Old Big School built at the expense of Edmund and Dorothy Huddleston.
  • 1622 Signing of School Statutes by the Bishop of London and John Donne, Dean of St. Paul's and one of England's finest poets. The statutes declared that pupils should be instructed in Virtue, Learning and Manners, which are values still embodied today.
  • 1765 Boarders admitted.
  • 1773 School House built for £1,100.
  • 1793 Lack of pupils forces temporary closure.
  • 1801 School re-opens.
  • 1806 Charles Tower took over as School Master. The School had only 12 boys.
  • 1851 The name Brentwood School and Charity Act replaces 1622 statues.
  • 1851 Start of revival under headship of Dr W. D. West, the School experienced growth and the foundations were set for future development.
  • 1868 School chapel built.
  • 1870 Governing Body set up to appoint principal and teachers.
  • 1870s The School gained its reputation for sport, producing an international rugby player and cricketer.
  • 1891 Dr Edwin Bean MA appointed Headmaster and encouraged boys from local state primary schools to join the School through scholarship examinations.
  • 1892 Foundation of Preparatory School; the first classes were held in the School House dining room.
  • 1907 Edwin Bean wrote the words to the School song to mark the School's 350th anniversary.  Evelyn Heseltine purchased Roden House and adjoining land, donating the land to the School, which became the sports fields dedicated in his name.
  • 1909 Evelyn Heseltine’s wife lays the foundation stone for Main School.
  • 1911 Main School opens and Evelyn Heseltine provides swimming pool.
  • 1914 James Fisher Hough appointed Headmaster. School's golden era begins with acquisitions that form the basis of today's site. James Hough increased pupil numbers from just over 200 pupils when he took over to almost 900 pupils when he retired in 1945.
  • 1924 Memorial Hall built.
  • 1929 Bean Library opened as a memorial to Edwin Bean.
  • 1930s Lawrence Building, swimming pool, squash courts, gymnasium and covered rifle range built. Middleton Hall purchased.
  • 1945 Charles Allison appointed Headmaster.
  • 1949 Over the years, the Preparatory School has moved to various parts of the Brentwood School site, including Roden House (now the Senior School Headmaster's House), the Hermitage, and finally to Middleton Hall in 1949.
  • 1955 Memorial Pavilion built.
  • 1957 400th Anniversary: HM Queen Elizabeth opens new Science building named the Queen's Building.
  • 1966 Richard Sale appointed Headmaster.
  • 1974 Girls admitted to Sixth Form.
  • 1976 Direct Grant status withdrawn.
  • 1981 John Evans appointed Headmaster.
  • 1986 Courage Hall opens.
  • 1988 The first all girls' class begin from age 11, with boys and girls being taught separately to age 16
  • 1992 Boarding at the Prep ceases.
  • 1993 John Kelsall appointed Headmaster.
  • 1994 Allison Building built.
  • 1995 Foundation of Pre-Preparatory School under the solid and imaginative leadership of Founder and Headmistress Mrs Ann Murrells.
  • 1999 Preparatory School becomes co-educational.
  • 1999 Hardy Amies Design Centre opened, major refurbishment of Performing Arts Centre launched.
  • 2002 New indoor heated swimming pool and fitness suite officially opened by Olympic Swimmer Mark Foster.
  • 2003 Science Study Centre and new Pre-Preparatory Hall, Preparatory classrooms and computer suites open, refurbishment of Queen's Building.
  • 2004 Ian Davies appointed Headmaster.
  • 2005 Extension to the Allison Modern Languages building completed to provide six new classrooms and a state-of-the-art language laboratory.
  • 2007 The School celebrated its 450th anniversary.
  • 2007 International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme introduced as post 16 option.
  • 2008 200-person changing room block on the Heseltine’s opens.
  • 2009 Over 200 Brentwood School CCF cadets, officers and Old Brentwoods travel to Belgium to unveil a memorial at St. George's Church in Ypres.
  • 2010 New Reception, School Shop and Dining Hall extension.
  • 2011 A new cutting-edge 400-seat auditorium and Sixth Form Centre opened by HRH Prince Edward.
  • 2012 New running track opened by Fatima Whitbread.
  • 2013 Building works commence on the Cunliffe building and the Bean Library. The Pre-Preparatory School and Preparatory School are amalgamated into one Preparatory School providing a seamless progression from age 3 to age 11. 

In 1974 the first girl joined the school as a full-time pupil and in the early 1980s there were 23 girls in the school, all in the Sixth Form.  The first class of girls began at the age of 11 in 1988, nearly 25 years ago.