For many years upper and middle-class boys went to school but their sisters remained at home, often under the care of an unqualified governess. However by the mid 1800s a few determined individuals craved a life of greater independence and from them grew a movement to improve secondary and higher education for women. It was in the context of this movement that, in 1896, two sisters, Miss Edith and Miss Mary Buller, founded Farlington. In looking for a new school in Sussex they chose Hayward's Heath that at the time was a burgeoning new town with good main line railway connections between London and Brighton.
The Bullers took on a lease of a greenfield site and the School was completed in March 1896 and called Farlington House, named after the village of Farlington near Portsmouth where their parents were buried. It was designed as a family school with an emphasis on Christian teaching for a maximum of 16 girls.
Isabel and Charlotte Moberly took over the School in 1898. Their vision and inspirational leadership ensured that the School grew and prospered through the first half of the 20th century, surviving both the hardships of two world wars and the challenges of the Depression Era.
In 1948, after an inspection by the Ministry of Education, Farlington became officially recognised as an Independent School. Partly as a consequence of that recognition, Effie Simpson, then Headmistress, realised that in order for the School to prosper it needed larger facilities. In 1954 she purchased Strood Park, the last day at the Haywards Heath site was 15th December 1954 and the School opened in its current location at Strood Park on 20th January 1955.
The current house system was introduced by Effie Simpson in 1943. Originally there were 5 houses, but shortly thereafter the School settled on just 3, being Cable, Cavell and Curie with a fourth, Cheshire, being added some years later. These remain to this day for the Senior School with the Prep School having its own similar house system. All the houses were named after women pioneers.
Farlington School Trust Limited, an educational charity administered by a Board of Governors, was formed in 1965 with the first board of governors being under the chairmanship of Bryn Smyth-Tyrrell, who was the father of three Farlington girls. This put the School onto a firmer business footing and allowed development in response to the new demands for girls’ education. Another innovation was the formation of the Farlington School PTA to raise money for school equipment and to organise social events.
In 1896 there were just 16 girls at the School rising to 35 in 1900. The numbers grew steadily until 1942 when there were 57 then quickly expanded so that just 3 years later, in 1945, the roll had doubled. Numbers remained steady for the next 20 years (120 in 1959), until the late 1960s and early 1970s when further expansion again saw the roll double to 210 by 1976. As of 2012 Farlington is a school of over 350 including more than 40 boarders.
The Prep School opened in 1994 in the Stable Courtyard for girls aged 4 to 11 under the Headship of Joy Baggs and moved to its current state of the art facilities in 2008 where it continues to prosper.
It is, perhaps, wrong to highlight individuals from a school with such a long history as Farlington has enjoyed. However it would be remiss not to mention Isabel Moberly and Effie Simpson who, between them, reigned over the school for 73 years between 1898 and 1971 – a quite remarkable achievement. They would be enormously proud of our most recent ISI Inspection Report which confirmed our status as an "Outstanding School ".
Gertrude Jekyll Border