Our building in Milbourne Lane has been the home of ‘Esher Church School’ since 1968, although the history of the school began with the school on Esher Green, opposite Christ Church, which is now the Adult Education Centre.
A building fund was launched in 1856 when the existing school, which was managed by the Rector of Esher and a group of helpers, proved too small to meet the need of the local children. Major contributors to the fund were King Leopold I of Belgium who lived at Claremont during his marriage to Princess Charlotte of Wales and Queen Marie Amelie, who lived at Claremont when she went into exile with her husband, King Louis Philippe, after being driven from the French throne in 1848. The fund was sufficient to allow the rebuilding and formal opening of the school in 1859.
Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor to Esher and became the Royal Patron of the school. The Duchess of Albany (the widow of Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold) also visited frequently and awarded prizes and gave an annual treat to the pupils. Her daughter, Princess Alice, began the tradition of presenting an annual Needlework prize, a tradition which continued at the school until 2000.
Another prize, the Petre Award, dates from 1871 when money from a bequest made by Mr Nathaniel Petre was used to buy Bibles. These were presented “to the boy or girl who, during the year, have set the best example both in and out of school”. Again this tradition was followed until July 2000; since then every child leaving the school has been presented with a Bible at the leavers’ assembly in July.
In 1968 the school moved to its present site in Milbourne Lane as a Voluntary Aided Primary School. This later became a First and Middle School (for ages 5-12) and meant the Governors re-opened two classes in the old school on the Green. In 1993 the school was again reorganised as a Primary School for ages 5-11. This coincided with the Governors building two classrooms for our younger children (the current year 1 classrooms). This meant the school could return to being on one site. Subsequently, 5 further new classrooms have been added to the ‘old school’ to allow the school’s transition to two form entry throughout.