Our Historical Story

Mrs Joanna Shipp founded our school in 1951. Her ethos for the school was simple – find the best in everyone.

Mrs Shipp believed that everyone has their own gifts and talents and that a successful school is one that recognises this and treats each child as an individual. The school was originally known as Westgate School and based in Chipping Sodbury. It then moved to Rangeworthy Court in Gloucestershire. By the late ‘60’s the school had once again outgrown its premises and in 1967 the school moved to Grittleton House in Wiltshire.

The school now has four departments, Flying Start Nursery, pre-prep, prep and senior. Mrs Shipp’s original vision is still at the heart of everything we do – to provide a challenging, stimulating and broad education that encourages each pupil to ‘grow in mind, body and character’.

The History of Grittleton House

The first building on the site was Grittleton Manor, a three bay Jacobean manor dating from 1660.

In 1828, Sir Joseph Neeld purchased the estate. Neeld was a London solicitor who had inherited a fortune from his silversmith uncle, Philip Rundell. The estate of 1,248 acres was to become Neeld’s country seat, with Grittleton House built between 1835 and 1856. The house was designed by the architect James Thompson, with later modifications overseen by Henry Clutton.

Joseph Neeld died before the house was completed and the estate passed to his brother John, who completed the house. John Neeld also completed the houses for the estate workers on Alderton Road. Sir John Neeld had six sons, none of whom had children and the last son, Sir Audley Neeld, died in 1941 aged 94.

Grittleton House then passed to the illegitimate daughter of Sir Joseph Neeld, who married Colonel Inigo William Jones. In 1942, Lionel Inigo-Jones inherited the estate and changed his last name to Neeld. In 1956 the property passed to his brother Ralph Inigo-Jones who was known as Ralph Neeld.

The family of the school’s founder, Joanna Shipp, moved into the house in 1967 renting it from Ralph Neeld and finally bought Grittleton House in 1972.

Our Founder’s Thoughts

Joanna Shipp set out her vision and beliefs for Grittleton House School as follows:-

‘We are here because we place a high value on education and our priority is always the children in our care. Our aim is to give these children a well-grounded, well-rounded education in a happy atmosphere in which they can thrive and progress.

We must satisfy legal requirements and so forth, but always remember that these can, educationally, be flawed and subject to political intervention. This is our school and we have created it according to our own high ideals and traditions. Our teachers must be talented and dedicated who see education as not just a career but as an important and worthwhile vocation. The learning we offer must be across a broad spectrum where they are open to new ideas and expansion of the old. We must focus on the absolute necessity of the basic requirements. No child can fulfil his or her potential without the basic requirement of the ‘Three R’s’.

The children’s happiness, fulfilment and success will be the just reward for all who are a valued part of our own ‘family-run’ school.’

Joanna Shipp, January 2009