Ashampstead Boys preparatory school moved from Upperton Road Eastbourne to Sutton Place (aka Sutton Manor) Seaford in 1923. Sutton Place was built around 1840 near the much older Manor House of Sandore Sutton, to the east of Seaford. For more information about Sutton Place click here.
Captain William Johnstone-Wilson the headmaster had served in the Great War (WW1). A note, written perhaps by a former pupil, about the school's history states that there was a priory on the site supervised by Gilbert Aquila,Bishop of Robertsbridge, subsequently destroyed by Thomas Cromwell. The note claims that the arches of the monastery were still visible in the walls. During the Civil War the owner of Sutton Place, Captain Harison was a supporter of Charles II, who had rewarded by him by having a "r" removed from his name to distinguish him from a Cromwellian soldier Major General Thomas Harrison. Our Captain Harison married a local girl Anne Elphick in 1660. A road near the site of the school is named after him (with one "r"). The note states that boys enjoyed figs from a large tree probably planted by the monks, and large cellars and tunnels under the original house are said to have beem used by smugglers.
At the end of the 19th century the then owner, a Mr Hutchison built a billiard room, which became the main school assembly room. Johnstone-Wilson extended the building with a gymnasium with a dormitory above. Dormitories at the school were named after painters, Whistler, Millais, Landseer and Constable, the last named was favoured allegedly because William the Pitt the younger slept there while seeking election for the rotten borough of Sutton cum Seaford. As with many Seaford schools the second world war required the school to be evacuated to the west country and the building was occupied by the army. Normansal School evacuated to the same area and the schools joined classes together in one building. Johnstone-Wilson returned as soon as possible to Seaford but as Sutton Manor was still occupied by the army, the school continued in a large house "Shiel" in Firle Road next to Bowden House. Captain Johnstone-Wilson died in 1941 and the school again relocated to Westcliffe in Surrey Road (already a school building with a large playing field) and it was renamed Ashampstead. By 1945 it had become a successful boarding and day school for boys and girls.
John Hayes attended Ashampstead from 1952 and left when it closed in 1961. His website tells of his days at the school:
West Cliffe is the house that became Ashampstead School in the year 1945. I joined the school in September 1952. The establishment was co-educational. Pupils were 4 to 11 years old and divided into three groups: Kindergarten, 4 - 6, Transition 7 - 8, and Preparatory 9 – 11. All pupils were taught to sing whether they were capable or not. All pupils would have to sing a song in front of the whole school at least once a year. Those with the least musicality would receive rapturous applause. This quirky school's ethos was all-round personal development including movement studies, breathing exercises, music, dancing, drama, art, Latin, Coin-Greek , French, and a strange out-door game called Kick-the-Can. All of the teaching staff were female, with the exception of Miss Beale who was a member of Lords Cricket Club. Ashampstead school meals were scrummy. The school closed in 1961.