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Our History

St John's School was founded in 1851 by a clergyman, Ashby Haslewood, who was vicar of St Mark's, Hamilton Terrace in St John's Wood, north London. He had a dual purpose in founding the School - to offer free education for the sons of poor clergymen and to provide a choir for his large church.

The School was a success but the dual purpose imposed restrictions. So, in 1854, the School moved outside the parish boundaries of St Mark's into neighbouring Kilburn. This was the first of three moves before the School moved to Leatherhead in 1872.

Despite much progress, it remained essentially a charity school until the significant headmastership of Arthur Rutty (HM 1883-1909) when the School developed all the characteristics of a public school and began to attract fee-paying parents, while remaining loyal to the sons of poor clergymen.

The School expanded throughout the twentieth century despite the problems faced by all independent schools due to the Depression. After the Second World War, St John's was fortunate to attract the interest of Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, himself the son of a clergyman, who was chairman of the governing body from 1951 to 1966. Monty's contribution to the development of the School was enormous - he promoted it, raised money for it and gave generously of his own time and wealth.

The School has continued to expand and in 1989 the first Sixth Form girls were admitted. In 2010 girls joined the School in the Fourth Form for the first time and the School became fully co-educational from September 2012. In September 2016 the School opened its doors to Year 7 pupils for the first time, with a brand new Lower School for 11+ entry.

Notable old boys of the School include the eminent contemporary architect Lord Rogers; novelist and playwright, Sir Anthony Hope; legendary dance band leader, Victor Sylvester; missionary and modern martyr, Father Vivian Redlich and the renowned archaeologist, Sir Leonard Woolley.

St John's is currently a community of over 800 pupils. It continues to remain loyal to the principles of its foundation and offers subsidised education to the sons and daughters of clergy with limited means, as well as children from other low income backgrounds.


Please click here to find out more about St John’s School, Leatherhead and the Great War, 1914-1919, by  Sally Todd and Neil Pudney.

If you would like a copy of Those Things Which Are Above: The History of St John's School, Leatherhead by the former Head of History, Richard Hughes, please contact the Development Office by email: