Latest Project Updates

Update 19 June 2017

Build Update

The building site is a busy place with diggers and dumper trucks galore, but as in life and indeed in education, solid foundations are the key to success and in a massive structure such as our new Centre for Learning, those foundations need to support the total load of the building and incorporate all of the drainage and infrastructure services.

Building continues

And so, although we canít wait to see the exterior of the building grow, we must be patient whilst the Beard Construction team continue to dig holes to lay the deep foundations, more drains and more pipework to ensure that the Centre for Learning will be strong and stable.

Click here to read more about the project from Beard


Centre for Learning Appeal Update

It is truly heart-warming to see how everyone in our Downe House community has supported the Centre for Learning Appeal and this week, we would like to show our appreciation for two particular groups within our community who have made a fantastic contribution.

Thank you to our staff! As 2017 marks the 110th Anniversary of the Downe House School, we set the 110 Step Challenge for Downe House staff to raise money for a commemorative step in the new Centre for Learning which will be engraved with a dedication to staff. We are very grateful to all of the staff who have risen to this challenge to support the Appeal.

Thank you to our Leavers and their families! Every year, we say a sad farewell to our Upper Sixth Formers who have come to the end of their time at Downe House and their families have chosen to mark this milestone with a donation to the Centre for Learning Appeal. Many of them have decided to sponsor a seat in the Auditorium which will be named after their daughter or having a paving stone engraved with their familyís name. To see the remaining Naming and Sponsorship opportunities available, just click on this link http://www.downehouse.net/10yearvision-naming-sponsorship.asp

Of course, every donation is hugely appreciated and will go to making a difference to the educational opportunities we can provide for every girl in the School when the Centre for Learning opens in September 2018.

Update 7 June 2017

Build Update

The building site has now been transformed with the arrival of the huge yellow standing crane which was installed just before half term and which is now fully operational. It will remain in place for the duration of the build and will enable the transfer of all the building materials across the site.

Building continues

Over the half term holiday, the Beard Construction team continued to work on the foundations for the Centre for Learning and started to install the drainage infrastructure laying groundwork pipes across the site to provide water and waste facilities.

Save the date... Downe House Ball on 21 September 2017

You will soon be receiving your invitation to join us at the Downe House Ball on Thursday 21 September 2017 at the Hurlingham Club, which will be in aid of The Ten Year Vision with all proceeds going towards the final phase of fundraising for The Centre for Learning.

Please support the Centre for Learning by making a donation

We have had a wonderful response to our Centre for Learning Fundraising Appeal to date. At the Bronze and Silver Sponsorship level, 52 of the named seats in the Auditorium, 38 engraved stepping-stones and 4 Teaching and Learning pods have been sponsored.

At the Gold and Platinum Sponsorship level, generous donors have sponsored the state-of-the-art Auditorium and the Gallery, which will showcase the creative arts. The Learning Resource Centre (Library) is still available if anyone is interested in taking up this important naming opportunity. To see the full range of Naming and Sponsorship opportunities still available, please click on the link http://www.downehouse.net/10yearvision-naming-sponsorship.asp

We are chipping away now at the final £500,000 needed to build and equip the new Centre for Learning which will benefit every girl in the school from September 2018. If you havenít yet made a donation, now is the time to decide how you can support our Appeal.

If you would like further information on how you can help please contact Michelle Scott on 01635 204719 or email scottm@downehouse.net.

Update 23 May 2017

Build Update

With the groundworks now complete and the foundations for the Centre for Learning being laid as we write, the vision for the project is turning into a reality and soon we shall start to see the new building grow in the heart of the school campus.

Our intrepid AV team have been recording the progress of the build using a timelapse camera and the results are a fascinating insight into the steady transformation of the site ready for the build to start.

Through rain and shine, night and day, the video takes you from the installation of the Heras fencing and the arrival of the bulldozers to the pile drivers drilling the first holes.

To watch this amazing video, please follow this link https://vimeo.com/215871525.

Update 15 May 2017

Build Update

The building site is in full swing now and the view from Wakefield House shows the very large holes which have been dug for the foundations and pile construction of the Centre for Learning. Beards Construction have installed their welfare facilities for the building site staff and so itís full steam ahead with the construction plan. The next major event will be the installation of the tower crane for which the foundations have already been laid.

Building continues

Appeal Update

The response to our Appeal for our new Centre For Learning has been incredible and we are now in the final leg of fundraising for the remaining sum of £500,000. During March and April, we were delighted to receive a grand total of £127,000 from the Downe House community. It has been wonderful to see everyone pledging their support in so many different ways whether it be attending a fundraising event, setting up a regular gift, taking up one of the many Naming and Sponsorship options available or simply donating via our Total Giving page http://www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/CentreforLearningAppeal. Now that the building has begun and that this time next year, we will be preparing for the Grand Opening Ceremony, we would be truly grateful for your help in hitting that target as soon as we can!

Why not sponsor a seat or a stepping stone?

The new state of the art Auditorium is going to significantly enhance every girlís school lifeÖ not to mention every parent who attends a lecture, concert, drama production, recital or workshop. By sponsoring a seat in the Auditorium for £250, we will add a name plaque to dedicate that seat to your daughter, a class or a family. Alternatively, we plan to engrave names onto a series of commemorative stepping stones for £500 each which is another lovely way to celebrate a loved oneís name. For the up to date list of Naming and Sponsorship options which are still available, please click here.

Update 8th May 2017

Build Update

Last week it was a busy week on the building site with the focus on the groundworks for the new Centre for Learning and the construction team started to lay the re-bar (structural reinforcing) and service routes in time for the sub structure to start in the next couple of weeks.

Beard Constructionís Welfare facilities will arrive this week and so the site will take another step towards full operation, which we expect to be in full swing after half term.

Behind the scenes the Estates Department have been dealing with contracts for the steel frame and the contract colonnade and have now awarded £1million of work to the various sub-contractors who will help to build the centre.

Fundraising Event at The Bluebird, Chelsea

The Downe House Comedy Night at The Bluebird, Chelsea attracted 60 guests for a fantastic evening of comedy, fine wine, delicious food and lots of laughter! Special guest performer, Miss Emma Powell left Downe House in 2010 to do a Foundation year at Drama Centre London and then on to Cambridge University to read English, Drama and Education. At Cambridge, she became the first female fresher to be selected for Cambridge Footlights since Emma Thompson and has since embarked on a successful acting career. She starred in One Million Tiny Plays about Britain and is currently on a national stage tour as Mrs Hogget in Babe The Sheep-Pig.

With her astute sense of humour shining through, Emma delighted her audience with a series of hilarious stories about her time at Downe House, which provided a rich seam of comedy about the everyday life of a Downe House schoolgirl. Everyone agreed that the highlight of Emmaís act was most certainly the song she wrote and performed parodying next yearís grand opening ceremony of the Centre for Learning.

Her performance was followed by an auction of sponsorship items including an Auditorium Seat in the new Centre for Learning as well as Learning and Technology Packs. Jointly compered by Emma and Foundation Director, Mrs Michelle Scott, the auction successfully raised over £5,500 for the Centre for Learning Project. Our thanks to all the parents, friends and alumnae who so generously supported the event and made it such a fun evening.

Can you help us to reach the final target?

With just £500,000 left to raise to meet the final target of £6.5 million, the proceeds of the Comedy Night bring the project another step closer to completion after just over one year since the public launch in February 2016.

There are lots of ways to get involved to help us to reach the final target - either by making a donation or by taking up a Naming and Sponsorship opportunity such as sponsoring an Audio Visual Pack or a Teaching and Learning Pod. Please click here to see the up to date list of Naming and Sponsorship options which are still available. If you would like to discuss how to get involved, please contact Michelle Scott on 01635 204719 or email scottm@downehouse.net.

Update 1st May 2017

We have reached the £6 million target!

When we last updated you in March, we had just over £100,000 to raise to reach the next milestone. We are thrilled to report that over the past few weeks we have raised just over £130,000! Thank you to the generosity of the parents, staff, alumnae, governors and trustees who have so kindly helped us to hit this target.

The final £500,000

The aim over the next six months is to raise £500,000 to reach our final target of £6.5million. It is wonderful to be so close to our goal. With building work now underway, we just need this last push to hit the grand total. If you would like to help, we have many sponsorship opportunities still available. For £250 you can sponsor a seat in the auditorium, £500 for an engraved paver, £750 to sponsor a learning pack and £1,000 to purchase a digital pack for the Centre, to name but a few. Please click here to see what other options are still available.

Latest Progress
Latest Progress

Update 30 March - Building work begins!

The builders have arrived.

April sees the start of the 18-month build programme for the Centre for Learning. With the site now cleared and the foundation work underway, we are excited to see this incredible new building rise up from the ground.

Builders onsite

Can you help us hit the £6 million mark?

With just over £100,000 to go to reach the £6 million milestone, we hope to reach this target very soon. We have received support from all members of community Ė alumnae, current and past parents, Governors, Trustees and friends of Downe House. Weíd be delighted to add your name to our list of donors.

How can you help?

We have many sponsorship opportunities still available. For £250 you can sponsor a seat in the auditorium, £500 for an engraved paver, £750 to sponsor a learning pack and £1,000 to purchase a digital pack for the Centre, to name but a few. Please click here to see what other options are still available.

Thank you again to the parents, staff, alumnae, Governors and Trustees who have supported the appeal so generously. To be within touching distance of £6 million is remarkable.

New date for Comedy Evening!

The Downe House Comedy Evening with DH alumna and stand-up comedian, Bella Younger, has been rescheduled for 7pm on Wednesday 3 May 2017 at The Bluebird, Chelsea.

If you would like to secure a ticket (£50 per head) please email foundation@downehouse.net. Numbers are limited. All proceeds from the event are in support of the Centre for Learning appeal.

If you havenít yet decided on how you would like to support the Centre for Learning, there are many ways you can pledge your support, including donating a tax-efficient gift in kind to the School, donating stocks or shares, setting up a regular gift, making a donation via your business or family trust or leaving the School a legacy in your Will. If you would like further information on how you can help please contact the Foundation Office on 01635 204719 or email foundation@downehouse.net.

Update 06 March

Since the beginning of November the Foundation Office has received just under £200,000 in donations towards the Centre for Learning. We hope to break for Easter having hit the £6 million mark which will be an incredible achievement. The appeal now stands at £5,871,505.00. Thank you to everyone that has supported the appeal so generously without your support none of this would have been possible.

The ground works that started in January are now complete and piling will begin over the Easter break ready for the deep foundations to be laid. We really have an exciting time ahead!

There is still time to support the appeal and help us to hit our final target of £6.5 million. If you havenít yet decided on how you would like to support the project there are still lots of ways you can pledge your support, including donating a gift in kind to the School, donating stocks or shares, setting up a regular gift, making a donation via your business or family trust or leaving the School a legacy in your Will. If you would like further information on how you can help please contact the Foundation Office on 01635 204719 or email Foundation@downehouse.net.

Update 06 February

Last week proved a busy week in the Foundation Office. On Wednesday the team were joined by over sixty Downe House parents and staff at the Royal College of Nursing in London for one of the highlights of the School social calendar, the Lower and Upper fifth parentsí drinks reception. Headmistress Mrs McKendrick spoke about these precious years at Downe House where the girls live in their nominated mixed-age Houses and remain there until they have completed their GCSEs. She also spoke briefly about the Schoolís 10 Year Vision and Centre for Learning capital build. Parents were joined by the House staff and tutors who have known the girls throughout their School career and provide the vital support each girl needs to gain the most from her time at Downe House.

As well as organising the event the team received a further £1,000 towards the Centre for Learning appeal. We are now tantalisingly close to hitting the £6 million mark with only £156,000 left to raise. We are moving ever closer to our final target of £6.5 million when the School will see the vision for the Centre turn into reality.

The Gallery, Auditorium, Cafe, Main Office, 4 x teaching/learning pods, backstage dressing room, School Shop, props room, platform lift, audio visual equipment, library learning packs, digital technology packs and 28 commemorative stepping stones and 39 auditorium seats have been sponsored to date. The response to our appeal really has been incredible and we are so grateful for everyoneís support.

If you havenít yet decided on how you would like to support the project there are still lots of ways you can pledge your support, including donating a gift in kind to the School, donating stocks or shares, setting up a regular gift, making a donation via your business or family trust or leaving the School a legacy in your Will. If you would like further information on how you can help please contact Catherine Newman, Deputy Development Director in the Foundation Office: newmanc@downehouse.net or 01635 204741.

Update 12 January

Centre for Learning Project Update

Archive photo of water tower

The Downe House site has been a hive of activity. In December, we saw the beginning of phase II of the Centre for Learning enabling works, a series of building and administration cabins were set up on site and the existing heras fencing was re-ordered to allow for access for the ground works to commence.

The ground works are now well underway and we hope this phase of the work will be completed by the end of January.

The Foundation Office returned following a wonderful Christmas and New Year break revitalised and ready to celebrate the Schoolís 110th Anniversary Year. While we were away a number of donations came into the office from the Centre for Learning alumnae appeal mailing and so far we have raised just over £7,000 with money still coming in. Our recent parentsí appeal mailing is still producing donations having raised an additional £65,000 and counting.

The fundraising campaign now stands at an impressive £5.8 million from donations and firm pledges leaving the School with just under £700,000 left to be raised.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported the project.

If you havenít yet supported the appeal and would like to be part of this transformational project and celebrate the Schoolís anniversary there is still time and lots of rooms, areas, steps, pavers and equipment left to sponsor.

For more information and ways to support please contact the Foundation Office on 01635 204719 or email foundation@downehouse.net.

For project updates, please visit: www.downehouse.net/10yearvision.asp

Update 7 December

Today will see the beginning of phase II of the Centre for Learning enabling works, a series of building and administration cabins will be set up on site and the existing heras fencing will be re-ordered to allow for access for the ground works to commence on Monday 12 December. The ground works will be completed in early January.

With £5.8 million raised to date we are edging ever closer to the final target of £6.5 million. Our lovely new totaliser takes pride of place on site and is a constant reminder of the amazing support the project has received to date. Thanks to everyone who has supported the project, your support is making all this possible.

Latest Progress
Latest Progress

Update 17 November

In April, the Downe House Estate Team began the enabling work for the Centre for Learning build. Safety barriers were put in place around the Water Tower and work began to make the site ready for demolition. In early August the team demolished the old buildings and flattened the site to make way for ground works to start for the Centre for Learning foundations.

The Foundation Office has received an enormous amount of positive support over the past few months for the Centre for Learning appeal, £5.8 million has been donated and pledged to date leaving us with the final £700,000 left to be raised.

A number of areas/rooms and equipment have already been sponsored, these include:

  • The Gallery
  • The Auditorium
  • The Cafe
  • The Main Office
  • 3 x teaching/learning pod
  • The Props room
  • The Lift
  • The Backstage Dressing Room
  • The School Shop
  • Audio Visual equipment
  • Digital technology
  • Interior and exterior design

21 commemorative paving stones and 20 seats in the auditorium have also been sponsored.

In September, the team launched the 110 Step Challenge which celebrates the thousands of girls who have been educated at Downe House and the staff who have worked at the School over the past 110 years, to date this challenge has raised: £948.50 and continues to bring in funds from our alumnae reunion events.

In October, the team mailed all parents with a Centre for Learning appeal, response to the mailing has been tremendous, raising to date: £54,687.50 with Gift Aid with further donations still coming in.

If you would like more information on the Centre for Learning appeal or sponsorship and naming opportunities please visit the 10 Year Vision webpages on the School website, or contact Catherine Newman, Deputy Development Director: 01635 204741, email: NewmanC@Downehouse.net.

Update 15 September

A second goodbye to the Water Tower – School Archivist

In 1920, when The Cloisters Estate was advertised for sale by Messrs Simmons & Sons, the sale particulars described the Water Tower simply, practically and with delightful capitalisation, reproduced here.  "There is a very large Rain Water Tank in the Basement.  On the First Floor there is a very well equipped Laundry with Hard and Soft Water Supply and Life, Electric Irons, Washing Machines etc.  On the Second Floor is the Battery Room and Store, and on the Third Floor Four Tanks of 6000 gallon capacity.   The water pumping machine is underground.  Large Domed tank for storing 1000 gallons of oil.  4 large rain water tanks are built at convenient spots."

The atmospheric picture below, of the tower through the trees would have pleased the architect James McLaren Ross who was heavily influenced by the Arts and Craft style.  We have an architectural plan* of the original buildings which is striking in its elegance. Pevsner describes the Water Tower as closing the vista at the end of the drive and there is no doubt that it would have been clear to see from distant vantage points.  Our chapel tower came later to the site.

Miss Willis had been assured, at the time of the purchase, that the water supply for the main buildings was plentiful but at dry times, there were considerable problems with the supply and the girls wrote about this in charming and poetic ways.  They and the staff always banded together to get water to a bathtub and for necessities - timed bathing was essential and hair washing was special. Mrs Richardson remembers that every so often soldiers would come and climb up the tower and raise a flag, and the AA installed a radio transmitter at the top of the tower and would regularly come and inspect the essential equipment, no doubt taking a bit of extra time to enjoy the commanding view. 

The laundry operated from there for many years for the school. The water tower was used for all sorts of other school activity before it was filled with more fuel and water storage tanks, there was a loom there as for a time weaving was very popular.  Hester McClintock (née Wilder) wrote that Miss Nickel (who as well as designing and building bit of the School and teaching the girls to make superb puff pastry, also taught the violin) was asked to take her violin pupils to the water tower for their lessons: "to keep the general peace, all violin lessons were relegated to the top of the water tower – out of everybody's earshot!"  Four days of holiday were had to celebrate the Coronation and though a great number of the girls went to London, some stayed and decorated the water tower with flags and bunting. Priscilla Hayter (née Napier) writes of their Old Testament history lessons at the top of the water tower given by a "vague and pious lady who wore a peasant blouse".

The Water Tower served the School beautifully for many years and its memory will remain forever in its history; visitors were always guided to marked parking spaces "in front of the Water Tower",  it was the departure point for trips out, the spot where parents were greeted and bid farewell, staff would walk past it to Parents' Meetings having before walked past it to their job interviews, teachers were greeted cheerily in the morning by the housekeeping staff walking up past it having prepared the classrooms down below, girls queued next to it for Chapel and the younger girls loved to race past it after lunch, back packs clunking, to have a bit of a play around below it, hopping over the ropes or climbing around the roots of the big tree.  In the 1970, the machinery housed there became redundant.

Whilst we say farewell to an iconic sight the future awaits and we hope that the next generation will have fond memories of the Centre for Learning which takes its place. 

Click here to see a short time-lapse film of the demolition.

Archive photo of water tower

Update 26 August

A new perspective! The Water Tower is no more and the site is cleared ready for the big build. For our returning and new girls the School site looks very different. Exciting times ahead!

Latest Progress
Latest Progress
Latest Progress

Latest Progress

Update 4 August

Going...going...gone! The Water Tower demolition is underway making way for the foundations for the new Centre for Learning.

Water Tower Demolition
Water Tower Demolition
Water Tower Demolition

Water Tower Demolition

Water Tower Demolition

Update 11 April

It's all go at Downe House! Following hot on the heels of Easter the estates team has begun the enabling work for the Centre for Learning. Safety barriers have been put in place around the old water tower, and work has begun to make the site ready for demolition in the summer.

Update 22 March

The cameras are up ahead of work starting on the Centre for Learning. Over the coming weeks we will capture time lapse footage of the work as it happens, so come back and see it progress!

Project update

Update 24 February

Forty supporters joined the Foundation Office at the Centre for Learning Appeal launch event in the beautiful wood panelled Council Room of the Royal College of Nursing, Cavendish Square, London. Emma McKendrick spoke of the School's vision for the project and described the exciting times ahead.

Project update