Moulsford Preparatory School was founded in its current location in 1961, although the building had been used for educational purposes since 1931.
The main school building dates back to 1875, when it was originally called Cranford House and was built by Mr Hawkins of Field, Hawkins & Ponking, then a department store opposite Wallingford Town Hall.
A few decades later, Miss Winifred E. Laurence grew up in Cranford House. In 1931, she started giving tuition to a little boy of six called Billy Higgs. He was soon joined by other children and a friend, Miss Tollit, was persuaded by Miss Laurence to teach the younger ones in the old nursery. The grounds were turned into rounders, football and cricket pitches, and a ‘fish pond’ was constructed – this was a platform built out into the river at a suitable depth with a wire fence around it for swimming. Each year there was an enormous Christmas tree in the big hall – a tradition that has been maintained to this day.
The school and staff numbers continued to increase, and a converted Bedford van was bought to transport the children to and from school. New wooden school buildings appeared and music, dancing and carpentry lessons started.
Pupils achieve high levels of knowledge, understanding and skills in curriculum subjects and extra-curricular activities.
ISI Report 2013
Despite the war, life continued much as usual with the addition of a special game called ‘Rabbits’ when the children had to scatter and remain as motionless as possible to avoid being spotted by German planes which occasionally flew over and were known to machine-gun any moving figures in the open. Petrol was rationed and children were collected by pony and trap or arrived on the ferry from South Stoke – the trip cost one old penny. The school, too, had its own rowing boat that was used to take pupils backwards and forwards over the river.
As the school numbers continued to expand and take boarders, Miss Laurence bought and converted some farm buildings on the other side of the road beside Moulsford House, and by 1950, Cranford House (the current Moulsford prep school site) was used only as a boarding house. In 1951, a fete was held to raise money for a swimming pool. When the great day came for the pool to be opened there was a slight hitch – no water! Eventually the Wallingford Fire Brigade were asked to come and pump some very murky water up from the Thames to fill the pool.
In 1953, Moulsford House was bought for the school and in 1961, Miss Laurence sold her original home, Cranford House, to Mr Mortimer and Mr Hale. They re-opened the school as Moulsford Preparatory School with just 13 boys. This completed the full switch of names, with the original Cranford House becoming Moulsford Preparatory School, and Miss Laurence taking the name of her original home with her to re-name Moulsford House as Cranford House School!
Mr Mortimer and Mr Hale were succeeded by Mr Dunkerley, and then Mr Rod Jarman, who continued to increase numbers until his retirement in 1994, by which time there were 165 boys in the school.
From 1994 to 2014, the school thrived under the outstanding leadership of Mr Mike Higham. As the numbers continued to expand to the current total of approximately 330 boys over his twenty year tenure, an extensive development programme was put in place to provide continuously improving facilities and accommodation for our pupils. These included a Theatre, Music School, Sports Hall, an Astro-turf all-weather pitch, new classrooms, three new Science Laboratories and two new ICT suites complete with the latest Apple Mac computers, a new Art Room and a large Design and Technology centre – all of which we continue to use and enjoy today.
Moulsford's Pre-Prep department was opened in 1997, and has evolved to take boys from Reception to Year 2; it is housed within the main school buildings.
Mr Ben Beardmore-Gray, the current Headmaster, took up his post upon the retirement of Mike Higham in 2014.