Colchester High School is founded by Ferdinand Grӧne as a ‘most desirable establishment for young ladies’. Grӧne – or ‘Groany’ as he affectionately comes to be known by his pupils – will go on to spend 30 years at the school, fiercely committed to providing a ‘sound English education’.
The first school magazine is published, with pupils helping out as writers and editors. Over a century later CHS still boasts a ‘News Team’, responsible for identifying, researching and writing up stories about school life.
The school quickly grows in size and reputation until it is considered to be the best in Colchester. The local authorities are so impressed that they try to take over the school, but Grӧne resists – establishing the school’s long-held commitment to independence.
Amid further expansion, it is decided to allow boys to attend the school. Over the course of the next 20 years, the school becomes an all-boys establishment.
Towards the end of the First World War, as the number of casualties soars, the school’s new headmaster, Harold ‘Hocker’ Watkin, agrees to allow part of the site to be used as an annexe to the neighbouring hospital.
Sitting close to the strategically important port of Colchester and the city of London, Colchester High School sees its fair share of German planes during the Battle of Britain and Blitz. One is said to have roared past at little higher than tree-top level, and another is said to have strafed the school itself. Former pupils remember using an air raid shelter beneath the playground and carrying ‘Mickey Mouse’ gas masks with them at all times.
A new headmaster, Tony Moore, arrives at the school following in the footsteps of previous heads Harold Wells, John Beales and Theodore Cook. Under Mr Moore, CHS expands rapidly, with 11 Wellesley Road added to the site in 1982 – the school’s centenary year.
During the Great Storm of 15-16 October, a huge elm tree in the school grounds is blown down. Wood from the tree is later used to craft an offertory plate, which is still in the school’s keeping today.
The Nursery is formally opened.
Girls are reintroduced into the Lower School in the Autumn Term and the Prep Department introduce the house system with Rabbits, Squirrels, Badgers and Hedgehogs as their mascots.
Andrew Moore, who succeeded his father Tony as head and owner of the school, decides to place CHS in the care of Cognita, the largest independent schools business in the UK. A major round of investment quickly sees the addition of a new Performing Arts Wing, a new humanities department and a new science lab.
After a gap of some 70 years, girls are re-introduced to CHS. Their numbers gradually grow and today the school has on average a 50:50 split of boys and girls in its Nursery and Prep classes.
Current Principal David Young takes over the leadership of the school which continues to go from strength to strength in its academic performance.