DunNOTtar School’s 90th birthday party

Pictures from Dunottar School, Reigate, Surrey. Photography by Lee Irvine, PelicanImages Ltd. May 2016.
Pictures from Dunottar School, Reigate, Surrey. Photography by Lee Irvine, PelicanImages Ltd. May 2016.

While not exactly local news, a school in Surrey has celebrated its 90th birthday. However, the school in question is named after the area.

Dunottar School, based in Reigate, turned 90 on May 4 this year and was named after the famous Stonehaven castle.

The school was founded in 1926 by Mrs Elliot-Pyle, who was inspired by she and her husband’s visits while on honey moon in 1925.

It is believed that the aspiring headmistress regarded the minds of the children at her school as ‘precious jewels’ to be nurtured and so named the school after the castle which the Crown Jewels of Scotland were taken for safe-keeping in 1651.

It is not known if there is a reason behind the misspelling of Dunnottar - whether it was intentional for some reason or an error - but the school began its life in Reigate’s Brownlow Road with just three pupils.

It proved popular and the growth in numbers prompted three moves before it moved to its current home at High Trees Estate in 1933.

Mrs Pyle considered closing the school during WWII, but legend has it a new pupil crossed the common during a bombing raid, inspiring her to keep it open.

Rowena Cole, headteacher, addressed the pupils in a celebratory assembly.

“In 2016 we remain, without even really realising it, very close to the original founding principles of Mrs Elliot-Pyle,” she said. “We expect our pupils to be the very best that they can be, and to do this whilst upholding good manners and consideration to all others.

“I hope that these values will shape our pupils’ lives, as they have shaped the lives of the many individuals who have passed through the doors of Dunottar School during its 90 year history.

“In the year we celebrate Dunottar’s 90th birthday, I think that - despite the many recent changes to its rebirth as a co-educational school and member of the United Learning family of schools - Mrs Elliot-Pyle would be proud the heart of the school and values it holds dear are as evident today as in 1926.”