Culford School

Culford has its roots in the East Anglian Middle Class School, the Methodist boys' school founded in Bury St. Edmunds in 1881. In 1879 the WM Conference had decided to make funds available 'for the purpose of assisting the establishment of Lower Middle Class Schools' in order to increase nonconformist influence in the field of education. The following year leading Methodist laymen in East Anglia, led by James Floyd J.P. of Bury St. Edmunds, formed a company to achieve that objective in the eastern counties. An appeal was made to all nonconformist ministers in the area to support a school 'managed, not for the sake of large profits, but for the advantages of the Wesleyan and other nonconforming churches'. In 1880 Dr. John Christien, a Congregational minister, decided to give up the school he had founded seven years previously in Bury and this was transferred to the WM Middle Class School Association as a going concern. It opened on 25 January 1881 as the East Anglian School, with 15 boarders and 10 day boys. Because of the school's success in attracting pupils larger premises were soon needed and in 1886 a move was made to a new site, Highgate House, on the edge of the town. Here it remained and flourished for the next 49 years. In 1904 it became one of the original Board of Management schools. Meanwhile, its former premises in Northgate Street were occupied by Ripley House (later 'College') Girls School.

Under the inspirational headmastership of Dr. John W. Skinner, 1924-1951, the school outgrew its premises for a second time; by 1934 there were 140 boarders in addition to day boys. At this time Culford Hall and its 480-acre estate, landscaped by Humphry Repton, five miles north of Bury, came on the market and Dr. Skinner persuaded the Methodist Education Committee to purchase the property at a cost of £21,000. The school moved in September 1935 and was renamed Culford School. Cadogan House was built in 1937 to provide for a growing number of junior boys. Its old premises in the town became the home of a new Methodist school, the East Anglian School for Girls. Skinner's successors were Dr. Christopher Storey (1951-1971) and Derek Robson (1971-1992), under whom the school expanded.

In 1972 the girls in their turn moved to the Culford site to form Methodism's first co-educational boarding school. More recently a pre-prep school was established. In 2007 the school had 655 pupils, 80 members of staff, and modern buildings and facilities and was recognized as a leading day and boarding school in the independent sector.

  • F.E. Watson, Culford School: the first hundred years 1881-1981 (Bury St. Edmunds, 1980)
  • Stuart and Joan Roebuck, The Happiest Days: Culford Hall and School through the years Culford, 1995)
  • Tony and Sarah Lawn, Jewels from the Quad: diamond jubilee celebration, 1935-1995 - a living history of Culford Preparatory School (1995)
  • Gary M. Best, Shared Aims: a celebration of Methodism's involvement in education... [2003]