Hardenwick School

Private Preparatory school for boys, Wordsworth Road 1898-1966

The school was founded by Miss M Sibley in the mid-1890s in a house in Wordsworth Road.  In 1898 it moved to a three-acre plot on the corner of Townsend Road and Wordsworth Road.

Maria Sibley and boys, c.1898, including nephew John Charles Gladman Sibley, second from the right in the back row (with cap). Credit: Susan Shaw nee Sibley, family archives

Class photo, c.1900, with John Charles Gladman Sibley, second on the left in the front row – Credit: Susan Shaw nee Sibley, family archives

Miss Sibley sold the school in 1909, and it was leased to Mr Everett who ran it until 1919 when Mr H B Evington took over as headmaster.

The prospectus for 1929 declared: “The aim of the school is not only to prepare boys for the Public Schools but also to develop character and keep the boys fit and well, by attention to good feeding, rest and exercise.  We try to train boys to be mentally alert, and open-minded, and as they grow older, to develop initiative, self-dependence and a spirit of adventure”.  The curriculum included the study of current news and the cultivation of an interest in scientific progress and business life.  The fees for all this were thirty-six guineas.

1929 school photo, with Mr Evington. Credit: LHS archives – scan of LHS 1929A

Harpenden School Photo, 1929. Credit: LHS archives – scan of LHS 1929B

Mr Evington’s son joined the staff in 1937, but was on active service during the Second World War.  In 1940 a special Summer Term was worked, to keep pupils at a safe distance from air raids (though a bomb fell in Crabtree Lane in October 1940!).



After the war Mr J Evington rejoined the staff and became joint-head with his father in 1952, and it is from this period that former pupils have sent group photos, and comments – see below. Brian Haigh has also contributed his reminiscences of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Roy Clark has written his memories of his time there from 1946-1950.


In 1960 Mr J Evington took over sole control at a time when there were 60 boarders and some day pupils.

Hardenwick boys took part in the 1953 Coronation celebrations, forming an escort for the Fairy Queen.

Hardenwick boys formed a Guard of Honour for Harpenden’s Fairy Queen at a ball in June 1953. Credit: LHS archives

Councillor Maurice Drake escorts the Fairy Queen to the Coronation Ball in the Public Hall, through a guard of honour of ‘toy soldiers’ from Hardenwick School – © John Seabrook archive

The school moved to Sandridgebury in 1966, absorbing Aylesford House School, and closed around 1969. It was then bought by the MacIver family from Boston to run a private boarding school for US high school children. This school closed around 1973.

However, Charles Habib discovered this website page in August 2015, and has written his memories of the school at Sandridgebury from 1967 to 1971.

Advertisement for Hardenwick, after the move to Sandridgebury in 1966. Credit: LHS archives

The photographs below are copied from the school prospectus in 1938,  including the school and its grounds – and team photos from later dates.

Hardenwick School, Wordsworth Road, was at the corner of Townsend Road

Comments about this page

  • I was a day boy at Hardenwick from 1958 to 1961. I remember playing Rugby and Cricket every Wednesday afternoon (which was supposed to be optional, but never was). Then we had to come in on Saturday morning for lessons. Got a Saturday afternoon detention for missing a Rugby match in September along with 6 friends. I remember the deputy head (son of the Headmaster) had an open top MG Sports Car. Also remember that every Monday lunch was Shepherd’s Pie (very salty) with cubes of swede which were like bullets. Friday was the best day Sausages, Chips and Baked Beans!

    By John Wickenden (27/08/2023)
  • I think my late father attended this school between 1960 and 1966. I would be grateful if anyone has any memories of David William Abbott?

    By Richard Abbott (07/05/2023)
  • I have VERY happy memories of Hardenwick School I was there from 59 – 61 as a boarder and was NEVER homesick. I remember “The old boot” Evington senior who spoke Latin conversationally. Three bad house marks per week and you got the whack on Monday Morning. Had no effect on me – I just accepted every morning I’d get the whack – usually three. Used to wind up our French teacher “Mr. Miff something mercilessly. I remember Salvadore, the Italian cook. Macaroni Cheese was his speciality. Would dearly love to make contact with Christopher Moles – “Kipper”; anybody remember him? Sorry about the length of this epistle. Known to all teachers and pupils alike as “Woody.”

    By Frederick Woodworth (19/11/2022)
  • Simon Walshe, you would have been at Hardenwick around the same time as my late husband, Andrew Lauder. By his own account he may have been a bit of a tearabout. He was miserable there, since he felt he could have stayed home and gone to its sister school, Lochinver House School, in Potters Bar where his home was. We visited Harpenden back in 1990 and found Hardenwick had been replaced by three lovely homes. We had a little tour of two of them.

    By Maren Lauder (25/10/2022)
  • I went to Hardenwick School in 1966 and I’m surprised to hear, on this site, that they had only just moved to Sandridge. Exactly as I left, the school was sold and an American school called Concord moved in. I think it must have been 1970?
    Mr Harris taught me to spell by scaring me to death, and he used to entertain us by balancing a cricket ball on his head. When the school closed down he moved back to his mother’s house in Lyndhurst, New Forest, and we exchanged a few letters. I regret not visiting him there before he died. I had quite a few scars on my bottom courtesy of Mr Jack Evington, and I have so many tales to tell, but would love to find Danny Danskin… he was a great friend and inspiration to me, he seemed to be a genius tackling on the rugby pitch and in writing essays. I have photos somewhere of us playing the Scarlet Pimpernel and Lady Blakeney in several plays all organised by Mr Kenyan, a very creative french teacher. Perhaps I’ll try facebook!

    By Nicholas Smith (07/07/2022)
  • I have vivid memories of 1958. The Pope died in that year so a successor had to be elected from the College of Cardinals numbering around 70. Mr Harris saw an opportunity and organised a sweepstake amongst staff, parents and others. The consistory lasted a number of days but eventually white smoke went up. When Mr Harris heard he announced the result, a win for Mrs Jones!

    Shortly afterwards the Archbishop of Canterbury retired but, to great disappointment, his successor was named before Mr Harris could sell any tickets.

    By George Wolfe (14/01/2021)
  • I was at Aylesford House School from late November 1949 until early 1953. the Head was (Bombsite) Bailey who rode around the school field pulling mowers with his old motorbike. I remember one or two fellow pupils names and a few teachers: Miss Howard who had a stroke in class, Mrs Richards who was very classy looking lady, Mrs Thompson who was a bit of a hard person, and of course Matron who was lovely and gave nice cuddles and sticking plaster.  I still have some of the old ‘long’ school pictures.

    By PAUL FRANCES JOHN MACKIN (29/12/2020)
  • Is there a higher resolution photo available?  The one on the web page doesn’t expand.

    My brother and I attended between 1963 and 1964.

    Ed: I am pleased to say that Stef Bishop has sent another version, which I will send by email.

    By Manny Robalino (01/01/2019)
  • Day boy from around 53 to 56 – Below are random memories:-

    • I was in “Remove” class for a while and remember Pepper (a frail lad). At this time pea-shooters and smoking raffia were popular.
    • Each term had its’ craze: yoyos, roller skates and jetex cars which gave off a pungent smell.
    • Mr Harris warning us to dry our hands before touching the metal light switches.
    • “Bumble” reading the “Lost World” and giving the Latin roots to some words. He also took us for rugby Saturday morning. He seemed very old to me and did well on those cold frosty mornings.
    • Having the “whack” from Mr Evington for talking in line before lunch. Lunch was preceded by grace in Latin followed by macaroni cheese sometimes.
    • Young French teacher (Canadian) having a physical altercation with a disturbed boy in the yard.
    • Another young teacher who demonstrated hypnotism and regaled us with tales of black magic (in Epping Forest?).
    • Watching end of term film “Passport to Pimlico”
    • Boy called Johnny Johnson (American?) who excelled at sport (I was at the other end of this particular spectrum).
    • I failed common entrance as Latin seemed like a foreign language to me!
    • I am a chartered engineer and now live in rural Worcestershire trying to avoid the nonsenses of present day life.
    By Tony Evans (19/11/2018)
  • The slobbering St. Bernard was called ‘Ben.’  Mrs. Evington also had a small yappy terrier… a Cairn I believe… and it was the boss dog!

    By David Doré (26/09/2018)
  • I remember Ivory (mentioned above), who I boxed around 1952, gaining a draw, also Spencer whom I beat.  At least I never lost! I also recall Dore (above), Peter T C Cox, Spital, the Pantiledes brothers and both brothers Ivory, plus their family’s lorries with H G Ivory on.

    By Gavin Rowe (27/08/2018)
  • Phil Soskin has passed on some school photos but we do not see to be able to identify the years. They are obviously in the early 50s but I can’t even find myself! However there is one clue. The slobbering St Bernard…does anyone remember it and was it still alive when you were there?

    By Brian Haigh (01/05/2018)
  • I was at Hardenwick 1962-63. I have a nice picture of sports day there. I am the one with the knobbly knees with my mother. 

    Ed. We have added this photo to the gallery of photos. If anyone would like a copy let us have your email address (via contact us) and we will forward your request to Duncan.

    By Duncan (08/03/2018)
  • I was at St Georges from 1949 to 1958. We used to play rugby against you. I was captain of our under 12s,and I remember one of your players called [I think] “tich” Ivery or Ivey,who was a very good player, scrum half! Any news of him?

    By L.D.Woodley (07/11/2017)
  • Hello Simon, I was not aware of the game of Fives whilst I was at Hardenwick. However, there was a court which was referred to and used for squash. The court was a stand alone building (as far as I can remember) and was located off an unmade path between the playground and the playing field.

    Regards, Phil

    By Phillip Soskin (13/06/2017)
  • I did not attend the school, however I was recently sent an article by H B Evington from 1933, where he discusses the school’s Fives courts. Apparently Bat Fives was popular at that time. I wonder whether anyone remembers playing ‘ Bat Fives’ or Fives and whether the court survived till the school moved? Thank you.

    By Simon Stokes (25/05/2017)
  • We have recently added a photo posted by Phil Soskin on “Old Harpenden Years Gone By” Facebook page – recording when he won the Boxing Trophy. 

    Also added at the foot of the page is a press photo of the “miniature Police Force” from Hardenwick School, who formed a guard of honour as the Fairy Queen arrived at the Coronation Ball at Harpenden Public Halls – as reported in the Harpenden Free Press on 12 June 1953. So far no-one has admitted to being in the photo, which has been circulated to those who might have been at Hardenwick at the time.

    By Rosemary Ross (23/04/2017)
  • Hello Ken,
    I remember you well.  with regards to your enquiry about RDG Smith I can give you some old info.  RDG lived with his father in a flat at The Cherry Tree, Southgate, North London.
    Our paths crossed because he went to Conway School, North Wales and I went to Ellesmere College on the Shropshire Welsh border.  We also both joined Saracens Rugby Club.
    I am living in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire – I am on Facebook (only one Phil Soskin).

    By Phil Soskin (10/03/2017)
  • An item in the Local History Society Newsletter 98, p.7, in December 2005, describes a cricket match between Hardenwick Under 12 XI team against St George’s Under 12 XI team in 1948:

    R D Stevens of Oxford wrote to The Daily Telegraph on 29 June 1994 about this match: “A boy called Usherwood opened the St George’s bowling, and I bowled at the other end. He took all 10 Hardenwick wickets for no runs while I took no wickets for 10 runs.

    “it is my recollection that their innings did not last more than five overs, and therefore Usherwood could claim the record. It was reported in the Harpenden press at the time.”

    Does anyone still remember that match? Or what the St George’s score was?

    By Rosemary Ross (01/12/2016)
  • I was sent to Aylesford House School as a three weekly boarder when I was 7, so around 1963. I remember the school amalgamating with Hardenwick (a school I had previously played rugby matches against). I left when I was 12, so around 1968.
    I remember the school was quite strict with the regular use of corporal punishment – there was also something called the ‘Winter Stakes’ where students were expected to jump into the outside swimming pool up to Christmas. I also remember being a scout at the local Sandridgebury unit and visiting the village church on Sundays. I remember some of my school friends but did not stay in touch after I left – I know Eric Morecombe’s son (Gary Bartholemew) was a day student there but he was a little younger than me.  

    I can’t say I really enjoyed my time at this school as I suffered from home sickness to begin with and I couldn’t understand why I was a boarder when my family home was only in Old Welwyn. The sports were however great and I realised later when I entered the state school system how good the education had been. Most of the teachers were OK though some wouldn’t get away with the corporal punishment they meted out today. 

    By Simon Walshe (26/11/2016)
  • What a surprise to find this page.  I think that I would have been at Hardenwick school from about 1957.  My father was in the army and we had returned to Germany after three years in the Middle East. I spent several half-terms at the school and remember the boys whose parents were in India very well.  To “Bumble” Smith I owe any proficiency in Latin based languages and to Mr Robertson (goldfish?) any proficiency in French.  After some years at sea as a radio/electronics officer I spent the rest of my time in high latitude geophysical research and engineering.  Still working!  Does anyone know what happened to Ronald Donald George Smith (Smith RDG)?  I still have one school photo and a copy of the brochure.

    By Ken Lax (06/11/2016)
  • I attended Sep 61 to July 66 and remember the Evingtons well. The father taught us Latin and, for some reason, to count in Hindustani (which I can still remember up to 9). Like one of the other posts, I remember the Conversaziones; I won one year with a cartoon strip of the death of Julius Caesar. Does anyone remember William Seal and Roger Wolf?

    Ed: Wikipedia definition of ‘conversazione’: a conversation between two or more people involved expressing alternately their ideas or emotions without following a schedule

    By Robert Monk (23/10/2016)
  • I was a pupil at Hardenwick from 1950 to 1953. Here are a few random memories. Every week we would be obliged to eat an Indian curry with sultanas… very exotic, but not much appreciated back then! The French master’s name was Mr. Reggio and I was instructed to attend 8 o’clock mass with him on Sunday mornings. This brought about my conversion to Anglicanism so that I could attend the Parish Church with all the other boarders. The matron’s name was Miss Bye and she was a very nice woman. Her assistant, Old Ma Stace was not. Mrs. Evington dressed in Edwardian clothes and always wore an enormous feathery hat. She nodded her head quite a bit which caused the feathers to dance about.

    Here are a few of the names I remember:  Kerry Hastings Spital, Sentense, Brand, and Pantolides Major and Minor. The lad who tried a home-run to Shrewsbury was not called Fox, but I cannot remember his name. Finally… the History Conversazione!  What the hell was that all about? 

    By David Doré (01/10/2016)
  • I have a framed copy of this school photo on my wall in our study. I’m on the front row far left, next to Malcolm Haines. I think this was taken in September 58′ I left in July 62 amidst concerns that it was going to close down

    By Simon Taylor (16/02/2016)
  • Hello Michael,  I was at Hardenwick between 1955 and 1960 so would likely have come across some common names.  Would be good to hear from you.

    By Phillip Soskin (11/02/2016)
  • Hi all, I was at Hardenwick from 1960-62, so was there when you were present Robin. My nickname was ‘Moomoo’! I was cricket and rugby captain. I am currently researching for a small biography I am writing of my time there, so any help from school mates there at the time, please get in touch*. I am interested in tracking down some of the teachers’ names, and anecdotes.

    * ed via  enquiries@harpenden-history.org.uk

    By Michael Cowton (07/11/2015)
  • I was there briefly when it closed in 1970. My understanding was it was sold to Americans, but that might have been a myth.

    By Ian Hayden-Smart (28/08/2015)
  • I was at Hardenwick from 1956-1962. Remember the Harphams, Ogdens, Soskin, Hyde-Whites, Peachey, Anwar & R D G Smith. Many others. I still have some ancient photos

    By Robin Becker (07/08/2015)
  • Well,well,well, fancy coming across this site and I’m so glad I did. Nice to see some good old familiar names, Phil Soskin, John Goodfellow (I knew his younger brother Mike, better, and John would remember my elder brother Roger !!). All well with us at the moment. Really pleased to see all these photos and archived info about the old school !! Best wishes to anyone who may remember me. Often wondered what happened to Terry Peachey, David Simon, Richard Elders, Neil Bunce, Sajard Anwar, and others, but happily I hear from Phil Soskin occasionally via Facebook and also David Wilkinson who is the Vice Chairman of Luton Town Football Club these days. If you’re reading this, catch up with me on Facebook because I’d love to hear from you !!

    By Peter Kent (28/02/2015)
  • Good to see there are still a few of us around! I remember you well Rae, Goodfellow, Hadfield, Soskin. My good friends at the end Anwar, Ogden, Becker. What a star was Mr. John Harris – I’ll never forget he gave me 2 bob on my birthday after I’d gone on to Bedford. My time was 1953-1959.

    By Peter Harpham (20/01/2015)
  • Hello John, your name sounds familiar / similar!  Did you have a brother called Tim? Where are you now? Have you looked at Hardenwick in The Friends Reunited site?

    By Phil Soskin (08/01/2015)
  • Having read many of the comments I decided that someone may be able to pin point my time at Hardenwick so that I can fill in that space in my Family History. Unfortunately I am not sure of exact dates around 1946 – 1950, but see my memories. I look forward to corresponding with anybody who may be able to piece together my missing years and can recognise similar experiences – please contact the website editors to put you in touch with me.

    By Roy Clark (30/12/2014)
  • I remember Harris especially when his motorbike fell into the swimming pool. He was in love with the Matron I seem to remember. Midnight feasts and the dreaded Jack Evington confiscating my stash of grub and never returning it. Thief! Old man Evington used to have me up at 5 am studying Latin vocabulary with mugs of cocoa. He was great – got me through the Common Entrance exam although I was a late starter having come to the school from the Colonies. A few names I remember – Brotherstone, Cooling, Gerard

    By John Goodfellow (15/12/2014)
  • I have just returned to the site after a bit of a break.  The name ‘Harpen’ brings back memories – two brothers (see Geoffrey Rae’s comment). I was in awe hearing about their travels to England courtesy of BOAC.  I was also jealous of their airline travel bags which were handed out in those days. Best mates – Anwar (incredible sportsman), May, Butcher, Bales and Lax. I catch up with Peter Kent on Facebook from time to time.

    By Phil Soskin (1955-1960) (17/11/2014)
  • One of our members, Mr Barrett, has donated a photograph of Hardenwick pupils with Headmaster Mr H B Evington, in 1929. This was recently spotted in Hitchin market. The photo, scanned in two parts, has been inserted in the text above.  

    By Rosemary Ross (29/10/2014)
  • Just happened to come across this site when Googling. Hardenwick – brings back memories as I was there too around 1953. Remember Mr. Harris, who was a bit of a character, Mr. Evington and a lot of other things. Does anyone remember Fox who once decided to run away? His home was in Shropshire I believe and parents kept bees. He was a nice kid, as I think almost all of us were. Remember him saying “top secret” with a smile as he went out onto the street in the evening from near the bicycle sheds. He had to come back I believe after not getting too far and accept his punishment. Also Lamond, Harpen whose parents ran tea plantations in India. Others too whose names may come back. Great bunch of kids and people, including the Cook who once gave me a cheese sandwich when I told her that I was hungry!

    Am now retired in Toronto after spending my life at sea, about 53 years, may have got the idea from that picture of Nelson in the common room! Was too thick to be a dentist like my step-father anyway. Good luck everybody and lets all make the most of what we have whilst we’re here.

    By Geoffrey Rae (27/06/2014)
  • What year did Hardenwick School close down? Was it a result of child molestation by a teacher?

    Ed. We do not know how long Hardenwick School survived in Sandridge, where it amalgamated with Aylesford House School, which had moved from London Road in St Albans. The building was dilapidated at the time Richard William Thrale bought and refurbished it in 1978 – see http://www.thrale.com/sandridgebury. The site in Townsend Road in Harpenden was quickly redeveloped for housing.

    By Thelma Henkes (05/05/2014)
  • Hello “Everybody”, Many interesting comments. I live in Hertfordshire and would be keen to hear from or meet anyone with news to share – I was at Hardenwick between 1955 – 1957. There are also individual and some team photos loaded onto The Friends Reunited site. Regards Phil

    By Phil Soskin (06/08/2013)
  • I came to Hardenwick from St George’s school in 1950, having learnt nothing but was able to catch up a little with additional classes on a Saturday. I remember most Mr Harris and especially his rendition of the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race, where he drew the outline of the river Thames course in chalk on the school hall floor. A dustpan and brush represented the crews and these were moved along following the radio commentary. (Aah, pre-TV!) I also recall the red and black mark system, where entries were made on a card, and too many black marks entitled you to a visit to the headmaster, for some red marks on the hand or bottom. Mr Evington and his son, Mr Jack, favoured the cane. Mr Harris was a slipper man; two others resorted to using a wooden part off the back of the knuckles, while Mr Mosby (he of the missing fingers) went for the Chinese burn on the back of the neck! If it should exist, I must have been a star of the punishment book. Oh Yes! And Mr Ward tried to drown me in the school pool! (The good old days!) My progress academically was limited with a ‘C’ grade being something of an achievement. However, despite coming 16th in a class of sixteen, I managed to pass the entrance exam for St Albans School in 1953. It all came out right in the end, I am now retired, having obtained honours degree in Chemistry and worked in Manufacturing industry all my life. I am happily married to Evelyn, with three daughters and six grand children. Gavin Rowe

    By Gavin Rowe (16/07/2013)
  • I was there from 1947 to 1951…………any of my contemporaries reading this page. I have some good photos of the cricket teams during those years.

    Ed. Brian has written his reminiscences and sent photos of the cricket teams. He hopes you can help identify some of the players – and add to his memories.

    By Brian Haigh (21/03/2013)
  • I started here in September 1957, leaving in the Summer of ’62. I have fond memories of my time at Hardenwick and made lots of friends. The one teacher I didn’t like was Jack Evington. I enjoyed sports days especially the sack race and remember making a table in the carpentry shop which I couldn’t take home due to the width restriction in the cellar door!….

    By Simon Taylor (01/02/2013)
  • The worst days of my education were spent here during 1956. The school epitomised the worst that British public schools had to offer. Great news that it has now been relegated to the scrap heap.

    By David Hadfield (26/07/2012)
  • Maria Sibley was my great Aunt. My father attended the school in the late 1890’s. I have some pictures of her and the boys If they are of interest.

    Ed: Yes please!  We would love to be able to add them to this page – and on 6 January 2012 have done so.

    By Susan Shaw (nee Sibley) (05/11/2011)
  • Stef Bishop has sent scanned photos of Hardenwick pupils, and the 1958 photo has been added to the page.  The layout of photos on this page has been altered to make the pictures larger.

    Stef will also be adding this to his Friends Reunited page.

    By Rosemary Ross (21/07/2011)
  • As a former pupil who notices there are others on friends-reunited still lurking about, I would be interested to know if there is any more information from this source?!

    By Stef Bishop (13/07/2011)

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