April 2017 heralds the 150th anniversary of King Edward’s move to Witley and the school has embarked on a year of celebratory events to memorialise its long and rich history.
On 20th April, the Mayors of Haslemere and Waverley were present as a holly tree was planted in King Edward’s Witley’s grounds to mark the date that the school moved from London to its new premises in Witley. The same week, a second holly tree was planted in the grounds of St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, symbolising the school’s presence there as a Tudor orphanage when it was originally founded in the City of London.
The significance of planting holly trees is linked to the beautiful silver ceremonial Beadle’s Mace of Bridewell, the wooden staff of which is believed to originate from a holly tree grown in the City of London in the 1660s.
Commenting on the event, The Mayor of Waverley, Councillor Chris Storey said: “Today’s tree planting service has provided an opportunity for us to remember the important mark that King Edward’s Witley has made on the local landscape over the past 150 years. In addition to enjoying a reputation for its world class education offering, the school provides a priceless opportunity to a small proportion of pupils who, thanks to the support of the Bridewell Royal Hospital, are able to transform their lives.”
John Attwater, Headmaster of King Edward’s Witley, added: “We retain close links with the City of London and are proud of our heritage. The planting of these holly trees will allow us to reflect on our two homes in Surrey and the City, and to reflect on the wonderful evolution of our parent foundation – Bridewell Royal Hospital – into the outstanding school we are today.”
Additional commemorative events include a special Bridewell Day thanksgiving service held last month in the presence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London and HRH The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO at Southwark Cathedral, an exhibition at Haslemere Museum in May and the opening of the school to the public for Heritage Open Day on Sunday 10th September 2017.