Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music school. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.
Sunday is shingling day as the almost-finished roof of the Sam Banks Pavilion resounds with the tap of hammers: most roofs aren’t made of wood, but this one is – of Red Cedar shingles, which need to be carefully fixed in place so that they overlap cunningly. Not only do they look, feel and smell nice, but they are very practical, lasting up to 40 years. The weekend is billed as one members of the community, current and past, can come and lend a hand; so there is a good social buzz as we clamber over this beautiful looking and fragrant roof that rests gracefully on its Douglas fir and oak frame. For those of us who are deeply cack-handed but doggedly determined, it’s the kind of job we like: sufficiently manageable so we can get it done but with just enough skill to make us feel that we are, well, skilled. OBs John Russell and Gabriel Langlands are there to guide us, with admirable patience. Planes and knives are deployed to ensure that the shingles fit and don’t go wonky. I like being perched up there on the roof, looking out to one side over the astroturf at Fairhaven, where John Badley spent his final years; and to the other side at the Cricket Pavilion, built primarily by students in the early 1900s and used as a rallying cry to shake students into action (“the spirit that built the Pav…”). The day finishes with the final shingle hammered in by Graham Banks and a celebratory toast. Much remains to be done at ground level but the roof looks stunning and it is satisfying to know it will be more or less weatherproof now. On the way home, drawn in by the pulsating melody coming from the theatre, I find an equally committed gang of students, marshalled by supremo Neil Hornsby. Work started at 9 on Sunday morning (and go on till 9 in the evening) shaping this week’s annual school Rock Show. On Thursday and Friday and already sold out, It will be quite something.
By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools