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Motcombe Park Sports Club

History of the School

  • The original school was founded for boys by Dr Alfred Praetorius in 1881 in Weymouth Street, London.
  • It was later bought by a Mr and Mrs Roderick who moved it to Folkestone. In 1921, when the Rodericks retired, Sir Milsom Rees incorporated the school’s pupils and staff into his own school at Kingsgate, in the grounds of which stood an ancient arch, built to commemorate the landing by Charles II in 1683 to take the throne. This provided the name of the School, Port Regis, ‘Gate of the King’.
  • In 1943, after a mine dropped by a German plane landed too close to the school for comfort, Port Regis was evacuated to a wing of Bryanston School.
  • After a two-year stay at Gorhambury House near St Alban’s, Port Regis moved to Motcombe House in the winter of 1947 - one of the coldest winters on record in the UK.
  • Port Regis School is now synonymous with the Mansion building, known historically as Motcombe House.
  • In 1825, Robert, the 2nd Earl Grosvenor, bought Motcombe House along with the hilltop town of Shaftesbury.
  • In the spring, you can still see snowdrops around the school grounds, first planted in the 1860’s.
  • Motcombe House itself was rebuilt in 1894-1895 but the original stables and walled garden remain. The architects of the Mansion building were assisted by Ethel Mary Charles, who became the first woman to qualify as an architect.
  • The present School Library used to be the family drawing room. It never had electric lights hanging from the ceiling since this would have spoiled the Italian moulding. Instead, they used standard lamps. Not only was all the furniture changed twice a year (winter and summer seating) but the coloured electric wiring was also changed to match.
  • Hugh Grosvenor, an officer in the 14th Hussars, and the 2nd Baron Stalbridge moved to Motcombe House in 2014. He was awarded an MC for his services in WW1.  At the end of the war in 1918 Hugh returned to civilian life but had little interest in running the estate, preferring activities such as polo and breeding horses for racing. This led to the sale of the estate in 1929. 
  • In 1929 Charles Prideaux, owner of the Motcombe Dairy, bought Motcombe House. He never lived there, preferring to live in the village. However every Sunday, after church, he would drive with his daughters to the house to check all was well.
  • In 1942, a Prisoner of War Camp was erected in the grounds of the park, housing Germans, and, after the war, Polish refugees. 
  • In 1976 the school admitted its first intake of girls with two E Formers, one D Former and one C Former.
  • After becoming co-educational, Port Regis embarked on an ambitious programme of development. HRH Princess Anne opened the Jowett Sports Hall in 1980 and ten years later Queen Elizabeth II opened Queen’s Hall. Since that time the school has added astro turf pitches, the Farrington Music School and the Upward Academic Centre to its estate.
  • When HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the school in 1990 to open the gym and swimming pool, Queen’s Hall, the whole school sat in Centenary Hall watching a live film of the Front Drive. It was very exciting when the Rolls Royce appeared at the top and came slowly down the drive.
  • Since 1933 the school has had just five Headmasters: John Upward (1933-1968), David Prichard (1969-1993), Peter Dix (1994-2010), Benedict Dunhill (2010-2015) and the current Headmaster, Stephen Ilett.