Westcott House, 1924

Westcott House, Horsecastles, 1924.

Westcott House was a Sherborne School boarding house from 1920 to 1999, and will reopen again in September 2021, 101 years after it first opened its doors to boys from Sherborne School.

The oldest portion of Westcott House, formerly named Grosvenor Lodge, was built in the 1860s on the site of an orchard by John Young Melmoth (1806-1876), an Old Shirburnian and a Governor of Sherborne School.

In 1919, Geoffrey O’Hanlon purchased Grosvenor Lodge for £3,500 and opened it as a school boarding house on 17 September 1920 with ten boarders.  He renamed the house in honour of Headmaster Frederick Brooke Westcott and took on the house colours of black and white (from Mapperty a former boarding house in Westbury) and the house letter ‘h’.

O’Hanlon built on additional boarding accommodation for about fifty pupils and in 1925 made over the entire property to the School Governors for £5,000. The fireplace in the common room incorporates the stone door lintel from the town’s former workhouse (now the site of Durrant’s close) which stood on the opposite side of the road from Westcott House and was demolished in 1939.   The building’s rather austere exterior led an American soldier to ask during the Second World War whether it was the town penitentiary.  Large additions were made at the back of the premises in 1965-1966.

As a response to falling numbers, Westcott House was closed as a School boarding house in 1999 and taken over by Sherborne International.  From September 2021 it will reopen to boys from Sherborne School.

On 30 June 2016, Sir Dermot Turing, himself a former Westcott boy, unveiled a blue plaque at Westcott House commemorating his uncle Alan Turing’s time there.

Former Westcott boys have included Duncan Carse (the voice of Dick Barton, Special Agent, and a highly respected polar explorer), Charles Collingwood (best known for playing Brian Aldridge in The Archers), David Cornwell (author who under his pen name John le Carré has published over 18 titles, many of which have been adapted for film and TV), Richard Eyre (acclaimed director and producer, winner of five Olivier awards and a BAFTA, and in 2017 was made a Companion of Honour for services to drama), Michael Hopkins (for many years in architectural partnership with Norman Foster, his works have included the Mound Stand at Lord’s Cricket Ground, Glyndebourne Opera House, Portcullis House in Westminster, the London 2012 VeloPark, and the Pilkington Laboratories at Sherborne School), Richard Hosford (BBC Symphony Orchestra, The Gaudier Ensemble), George Rittson-Thomas (England Rugby International),  Alan Turing OBE FRS (mathematician, computer scientist, and WW2 codebreaker), Dermot Turing (solicitor and author, trustee of Bletchley Park and the Turing Trust), William Watherston (Scotland Rugby International).

House letter: h.

House colours: black and white (formerly the house colours of Mapperty boarding house in Westbury).

1920 Geoffrey O’Hanlon MC (1885-1975)
1936 Reginald Stanley Thompson (1899-1994)
1952 Frank King (1911-1996)
1966 William Alwin Cooper (1923-2011)
1981 J.R. Lloyd
1986 D.P.K. Carling
1994 D.B. Cameron
1999 House closed
2021 to be announced

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