Ladycross school

Coordinates: 50°46′28″N 0°07′56″E / 50.7745°N 0.1323°E / 50.7745; 0.1323

Ladycross was a Catholic preparatory school based in Seaford, East Sussex, overlooking the downs with trenches which led up to the cliffs. Founded in 1891, more than 2,000 pupils attended it before its closure in 1977. Among its notable schoolmasters was children's book author George Mills, who taught during the summer of 1956.


At the height of the German bombing raids on British towns in 1941, the school was temporarily evacuated to Salperton Park, Gloucestershire. After the sale of the school by its founding family the Ropers in the 1950s, the school was owned and run by a Birmingham stockbroker and classicist named Michael Feeny (or Feeney) over the next quarter century with a complement of long-serving staff members.

Approaching retirement, Feeny was unable to find a suitable buyer to continue the school operations. Instead of selling up to developers and collecting a considerable amount, as most other Head Masters of the privately-owned preparatory schools in Seaford had been doing for years, Feeny set up a trust to take the school over. He handed over the school and all his assets to the Trust, which under its new governors allows the school to be increasingly rundown. Feeny was left destitute and in considerable financial difficulties in his later years.

The Trust had tried to make a financial turn out of the mid-70s property boom by selling the site and buying a cheaper on inland. However, the deal went sour, leaving the school with insurmountable debts. For the last two years, the stewardship of the school was pass onto John Wardale and his wife Maureen, overseen by a board of governors.

The financial issues escalated, making the sale of the site to a property developer and the closure of the school inevitable, despite the last-minute desperate attempt to raise funds from old boys. In 1978, the school buildings were razed to make way for a housing estate.

Notable former pupils

Aside from British boys, a handful of foreign pupils also attended Ladycross. They were mostly French, Spanish, Dutch, Belgian, Filipino, Nigerian, and American in nationality.

School life

The school motto was Vox vocis sonat, vox exempli tonat (also a school anthem which roughly translates as "The voice of the voice sounds, the voice of example thunders"). A yearbook called The Red Book provided a summary of annual sports and academic achievements, photos, stories and news, from and for parents and old boys.


About 150 pupils were divided into four “houses” for termly competition purposes in academics and sports: Athenians (red) Spartans (green), Ropers (yellow), and Herberts (blue). The winning House each term had a house feast much to the envy of the rest of the school. Younger boys, those of 8 years old and under, were housed at the Whipsnade, a separate building on the grounds.


Boys were provided a pupil number on admission with name and number tags sewn into every item of clothing. The uniform in winter was brown tweed and in summer became a combination of tan shorts and airtex shirt for daily wear and for formal weekend wear, a bright red blazer, white shirt and red tie, with grey flannel shorts. Prefects were allowed to wear long trousers. The cap was red and school badge embossed in front. The heraldic description of the badge is “a field argent bearing a cross Moline within a border of gules.” For sporting events such as football, rugby, and cricket the boys won colors - a special tie and, in the summer, a striped blazer.

From 1937 to 1969, the school outfitter was Rowes of Bond Street and was later replaced by Peter Jones of Sloane Square.


A wide range of artistic, entertainment, and sporting activities were offered at Ladycross. There was a popular art or hobby room, as well as regular educational films on Saturday night for the older boys and the occasional Sunday feature films. From gardening to photography, handicraft, theatre, pantomime and carpentry, the selection for extra-curricular activities even included archery and shooting, which was practiced in the Dell – a woody depression complete with an abandoned air raid shelter – using army surplus .22 caliber rifles. Swimming and diving contests, billiards, grass court tennis, classic association football, rugby and cricket games, boxing (eventually abandoned for judo), and even roller skating were among the sports the boys could participate in. Cops and robbers with dinky toys on the rink was also a pastime.

After Ladycross

Following their time at Ladycross, many boys earned common entrances to public schools such as Downside, Worth, Ampleforth, Stonyhurst, or The Oratory.



External links

  • Ladycross School 1891-1977
  • [1]
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