The Prebendal School

The Prebendal School
Prebendal School
Motto Fons Sapientae Verbum Dei
Established 1497
Type Preparatory School
Religion Church of England
Head Master Timothy Cannell
Headmistress of The Pre-Prep Maggie Shingler
Chairman of the Governors The Very Revd Nicholas Frayling
Founder Edward Story
Location West Street
West Sussex
PO19 1RT
Staff 44 (approx.)
Students 150 (approx.)
Gender Boys & Girls
Ages 3–13
Houses Neville, Luffa, Seffrid and Sherborne


Publication The Prebendalian
Director of Studies Keith Batchelor
Director of Music Samantha Kayne
Director of Sports Jonathan Hogdson
Website Prebendal School

The Prebendal School is a private preparatory school in Chichester, situated opposite Chichester Cathedral. It is a boarding and day school with roughly 150 pupils including the choristers of the cathedral choir. Most students go on to English public schools such as Winchester, Westminster, Eton, Charterhouse, Lancing, and Portsmouth Grammar School. The school has ancient origins as the medieval cathedral song school at the thirteenth century school house in West Street.



Children have been educated on the present site since the fifteenth century. The Prebendal is the oldest school in Sussex and probably dates back to the foundation of Chichester Cathedral in the eleventh century when it was a 'song school', teaching and housing the choristers. Later it admitted other boys from the city and neighbouring areas, becoming a grammar school. It was re-founded in 1497 by Bishop Edward Story who attached it to the Prebend of Highleigh in Chichester Cathedral, hence the name.

The thirteenth century school house with its narrow tower still stands in West Street. Long Dormitory, on the top floor, contains three-hundred year old panelling. Two adjoining eighteenth-century houses have been added, while the addition in 1966 of the east wing of the Bishop's Palace, which is next door to the main school buildings, provides considerable extra accommodation.

Girls were introduced into the school in 1972 and a pre-prep in 1996. The school is now a co-educational, day and boarding preparatory school for children between 3 and 13 years of age.

Further extensions have provided an assembly hall, new classrooms and an art, design and technology room. There is a modern science laboratory and an I.C.T. room.


Pupils cover the ground for the Common Entrance and Scholarship Examinations to senior independent schools.

The curriculum is constantly reviewed and there are regular information evenings for parents. Subjects include English, Mathematics, Science, French, History, Geography, Religious Studies, Latin (from the age of 9), Art, Design & technology, Music and Drama. Parents receive a full written report with grades at the end of the Michaelmas term and at the end of the Summer term. They receive a report card containing effort and attainment grades each half-term and at the end of the Lent term.

School examinations take place once a year during the summer term. As well as this, each form has one parents' day during the year giving parents an opportunity to meet the teachers and discuss their child's work.


As a choir school educating the cathedral choristers, the school has an extremely strong music department. A wide variety of instruments are taught.

There are two choirs, full orchestra, concert band, brass groups, recorder ensembles, clarinet ensembles, percussion group, string orchestras and quartets, Baroque Trio and many other chamber groups and ensembles.

The highlight of the musical year is the school music concert, which takes place in the cathedral during the Lent Term. A concert as part of the Chichester Festivities takes place in the Cathedral each July. The school has an extremely high reputation for music and each year both boys and girls win major music awards to independent schools. There are regular informal concerts, either staged by individual year groups or by instruments e.g piano concert or year 5 concert. Children are encouraged to take part in external events such as the Chichester Festival for Music. The annual Individual Music Festival, an inter-house competition, is always enthusiastically received by the children, likewise the inter-house singing, which involves every child and staff teacher in the school.


The children have games sessions every afternoon and many matches are played against other schools. The playing fields are close to the school, on the south side of the cathedral. There are four football pitches, two hockey fields, cricket nets, and two tennis courts. Pupils do sports for one hour at the end of every day.

The major sports played are soccer, hockey and netball in the winter terms and cricket, athletics, tennis and swimming in the summer term. Swimming is taught in the school's own heated outdoor swimming pool.


Years One, Seven and Eight have a double period of art per week and Years Four, Five and Six have three periods per week.

Each term there is opportunity for children to pursue their interest in these subjects as extra-curricular activities at Art Club.

Children also visit galleries and exhibitions locally and in London.


All forms from Year 3 to Year 7 have one period of drama per week. There is one major school production during the year, which takes place during the Michaelmas Term. This runs for four nights and involves many children, not only acting but helping backstage with the set, lighting, costumes, make-up and music.

The Chichester Festival Theatre is nearby and children attend performances there. Occasionally, they have taken part with famous actors and actresses in productions.


  • Neville (Green)
  • Luffa (Red)
  • Sherborne (Yellow)
  • Seffrid (Blue)

Each house is named after former Bishops of Chichester; they are Ralph Neville, Ralph Luffa, Robert Sherbourne and Seffrid I & Seffrid II


The Pre-Prep is for children between the ages of three and seven. It is located in Northgate House, a large Tudor house in the centre of Chichester and in Highleigh Hall, a specially designed building in the Prebendal grounds. Classes are small. There are close links to the Prep, some of whose specialist staff also teach in the Pre-prep.

Music is taught by a specialist and all children take part in concerts and performances during the year. Individual instrumental lessons may be arranged to take place in school. There is a bank of computers and software. French is taught from three years of age. In addition there is a variety of after-school clubs. Children have the use of the Prebendal School’s facilities including the I.C.T. suite, sports fields and swimming pool. The older pupils join in weekly assemblies in Chichester Cathedral. Lunches are cooked on the school premises and eaten communally.

The Pre-Prep Department has its own headmistress.


There are seven dormitories and accommodation for up to 46 boarders. Each dorm has a name;

  • Long
  • Tarring
  • Bell
  • St. Edmund's
  • Juxon
  • St. Wilfred's
  • St. Richard's

Matrons are responsible for the health, medical records, hygiene, clothing and laundry of the boarders. The School Doctor's surgery is close at hand and he visits the school when required. Many children join the school as day pupils and enter as boarders towards the end of their time at Prebendal. The majority of those boarding are weekly boarders, so there is frequent contact with parents and home. Increasingly popular with parents and children, if space permits, are sleep-overs and short term boarding.


The school educates the Chichester Cathedral choristers who enter the school on a choral scholarship. There are twelve choristers and six probationers all of whom are full boarders. The choristers are under the leadership of the Sarah Baldock the Cathedral Organist who is also Master of the Choristers. During term time they sing Evensong in the cathedral each day of the week except Wednesday, and at the main services each Sunday. Apart from fulfilling its Cathedral duties, the choir takes part in services and concerts outside the cathedral. It travels abroad and makes regular recordings and broadcasts. All choristers learn at least two instruments. Piano tuition is provided free of charge. In spite of their busy life in connection with the cathedral, the choristers play a full part in all aspects of school life. The school timetable is so arranged that they miss as little academic work as possible. Games also are considered an important part of school life and the choristers, together with all other children, participate in games each afternoon, and many have played a valuable part in the sporting life of the school. There is an opportunity for boys of age six or seven to demonstrate choral potential and become choristers at the Prebendal. Voice trials take place once a year, usually on a Saturday in January. Candidates sit an academic assessment test in the school during the morning and attend a voice trial in the afternoon at the organist's house.

Old Prebendalians

Alumni are known as Old Prebendalians.

Notable Old Prebendalians include,

References and sources

  • N. Ollerenshaw, A History of the Prebendal School (Phillimore, 1984)

External links

Coordinates: 50°50′11″N 0°46′57″W / 50.83639°N 0.7825°W / 50.83639; -0.7825

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