Claremont Preparatory School was originally founded in Hove in 1925 by Mr M. O’ Byrne, opening with just four pupils. but moved to its current site in St Leonards-on-Sea in 1945 when it amalgamated with Langley Place School. The Prep School building, a magnificent Norman Shaw designed mansion house, was built in 1880s for the Ebden family and was originally named Baldslow Place. Several Langley Place boys joined Claremont in its new home, and at the request of the headmaster, Mr A. W.Roberts, the records of Langley Place and Claremont stand side by side.
After 21 years as headmaster, Mr O’Byrne’s son died in 1951, and Claremont was then under the headship of Mrs O’Byrne until her tragic death, and then under Lt.Col J.H Dalrymple, General W.S Beddall and Mr S.M Kahn. The Chapel was refurbished in memory of Mr O’Byrne and with a new organ installed in memory of Mrs O’Byrne. The House Cup was donated in 1959 by the Hamilton Light Infantry and is still presented on Speech Day. Claremont School was established as a Charitable Education Trust in 1961 with Sir Egbert Cadbury as chairman of the new board of governors. Around this time, fees were 95 guineas per term with piano lessons, riding, dancing and shooting as optional extras. Clare Cottage was made ready for use as a Pre-Prep, fees rose to 130 guineas per term for boarders and 60 guineas per term for day boys in 1965 with Harrods named as the official school outfitter. In 1968, Summerfields Falconbury School closed and merged with Claremont.
During the 1970s, Claremont survived a fire although it destroyed the original building that was uses as the school gym and recreation hall, later replaced by a block of wooden buildings purchased from Beaulieu Motor Museum.By 1974, there were 111 pupils at Claremont, before the school gained a further 30 following the closure of Boarzell School in Hurst Green. A Summer Fete raised £220 which was put towards the first minibus with Golden Jubilee celebrations helping to raise money for our outdoor swimming pool.
In 1982 Claremont officially became co-educational although a small number of girls had been educated during the 1970s. Saturday school was introduced along with a minibus service from Hastings and Ore. The Great Storm of 1987 tested caused massive damage to the Chapel roof and 27 smashed windows were counted!
In 1990, the Nursery was officially opened along with the new Sports Hall , and two years later the first Friends of Claremont School formed – a fundraising force to be reckoned with to this day! In 2001 the School purchased Maison Claremont in St Omer, an overseas study and holiday base for students up and down the school; the O’Byrne Theatre and Cricket pavilion officially opened and following the closure of Westerleigh School in 2004, Claremont became the only surviving independent school in Hastings and St Leonards. The original site of the Prep school at Second Avenue in Hove was a hotel and fittingly called The Claremont, although the Grade II listed building dating back to the 1850s, was sadly devastated by a fire in November 2019.
In 2011, following popular demand from parents, Claremont Senior School was established in Bodiam. Starting with 40 students, the Senior School is now a well-established centre of learning with over 310 pupils today, a vibrant Sixth Form and two newly refurbished boarding houses.
In 2018, Claremont became a member of the International Schools Partnership (ISP) – a like-minded group of schools committed to driving high standards of teaching and learning and to always ‘getting better’. With demand for pupil places across both Claremont’s sites on the increase and a management team strengthened and primed to drive the School ever forward, Claremont’s new partnership with ISP has come at an exciting time, and with it renewed investment in our facilities. The £3.5million ‘Octagon Project’ at the Senior School will see the creation of several new classrooms, a state-of-the-art science laboratory, dance studio, art Room and music department. In advance of its centenary in 2025, the Prep School will not only be celebrate its extraordinary history, but also see significant investment in its sports facilities, extensive grounds, the building of a new teaching block, science laboratory, art room and other imaginative learning spaces, designed to inspire.
With over 700 pupils now studying here and having been recently judged ‘Outstanding’ in all categories for the third consecutive Ofsted inspection since the Senior School was established, we have certainly come a long way and have much to look forward to. Guided by a value system that promotes a positive attitude and desire to always get better, Claremont is a happy, hardworking centre of learning where every pupil ‘fits’ and can truly be themselves.