Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Raleigh Far and Wide: West Horsley - 'A School and that Head'

Quite a few schools have a link to Raleigh merely because they've chosen the name of our Great Elizabethan. However The Raleigh School in Surrey has a more substantial link and is clearly proud of it, as I found out from its Bursar, Peter Hill.

The school is a popular two-form entry co-educational primary academy in the semi-rural village of West Horsley, near Guildford.  It takes children from 4 to 11, and includes on site a privately run Nursery that admits children from the age of 2½

The vast majority of children move on at age 11, to the Howard of Effingham School, an outstanding academy that operates as the hub for a group of 10 schools making up the Effingham Learning Partnership, a thriving collaborative network for teaching and learning. 

West Horsley Place: the mid-17th century facade applied to the 15th-century structure.  Credit: Colin Smith

The Raleigh School's link is through its location in West Horsley.  It was at the Surrey manor house known as West Horsley Place that Raleigh’s only surviving son Carew came to live during the Civil War together with his mother Bess, who had kept her husband’s embalmed head in a leather bag after his execution in 1618.

St Mary’s Church, West Horsley  
Image credit: Hassocks5489

The date on which Sir Walter’s head was transferred to its final resting-place is unknown, but local historians in West Horsley claim that it lies under the floor of the chantry chapel of St Mary’s Church along with the bodies of Carew’s children who had died of the plague. 

Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Raleigh's half-brother. He features in Millais' celebrated painting 'The Boyhood of Raleigh'

The Raleigh School has reflected the link by naming parts of its building. One is known as Walter’s Wing. The Falcon Wing, for two older junior classes, is named after the 100-ton ship captained by Raleigh during the ill-fated expedition of November 1578 to discover ‘heathen and barbarous lands, counties and territories not actually possessed by any Christian prince or people’. 

Led by Raleigh’s half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert in November 1578 the expedition has been described as ‘an obviously disastrous adventure’ which failed to achieve any of its aims and ended up being seen by the Government as an embarrassing episode of piracy.

The four Houses which pupils join at The Raleigh School are also named after the ships associated with Sir Walter. Falcon is one; the three others are Roebuck, Ark Royal and Tyger. 

The Raleigh School also has a link with an American school in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

You can read more about The Raleigh School at http://www.theraleigh.org

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