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History of the School

Le Clerc House – courtesy of Fran ElliottNotre Dame School was founded in 1940 by three of the School Sisters of Notre Dame who arrived in Lingfield from Faversham with 14 WWII evacuees. Originally occupying small houses in the village, pupil numbers increased to 70 pupils by the end of the War and the Sisters purchased Batnors Hall on the present site of the Junior School.

The day/boarding school roll continued to increase and a Senior School was established with the purchase of the St Piers Lane property, Ivy House, later to be renamed Le Clerc in honour of Blessed Alix Le Clerc, a 16 th century foundress of the original Notre Dame Order.

The 1950/1960s saw a rapid expansion of the school with major building projects. St Joseph's Wing was developed providing accommodation for the increasing number of nuns, a chapel, dining hall and classrooms. Stables were converted to create an Infants' Department and development continued on the Senior School site with the provision of classrooms, laboratories, a gymnasium and an auditorium.

Le Clerc House circa 1946Over the next twenty five years there was a decline in vocations and in 1986 the Sisters decided to leave Lingfield in order to apply their resources to more needy causes worldwide. They invited four parents to create an Educational Trust under lay management to purchase the establishment. This was completed on 1st January 1987. The boarding house was closed, senior teaching staff employed to replace the Sisters, and a Board of Governors created.

In 1992 Nuala Shepley was appointed as Principal and a period of rapid expansion began. In 1996 the Governors announced their intention for the whole school to become co-educational. The end of the 1990s witnessed the construction of a new Science block, classrooms and a Music and Drama building, and following the purchase of an additional 17 acres of adjacent farmland a new playing field was developed.

To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in 2000, a further classroom block, Sports Hall and the first phase of a new Art and Technology block were commissioned. These were rapidly followed by an Assembly Hall/Sports Hall, and further classrooms on the Junior site. The School had now become fully co-educational. On the Senior site, three new Science laboratories were built and the old gymnasium converted to a state of the art dining hall and kitchens. In 2003 a new VI Form Centre was built to accommodate the ever growing numbers and the Art block was extended to house the CDT and Humanities Departments.

In 2004 the Junior School was provided with additional classrooms, a Science laboratory, staff offices and an enlarged and improved playground area. The Nursery area was also refurbished.

In 2005, Governors agreed to a new intake at 13+ and the Library at the Senior School was enlarged. The development programme over the next two years included further Science laboratories, another classroom block, an updated Home Economics room, the construction of a cricket pavilion and an Astroturf surface.

In 2008 the main Senior School building was refurbished, a separate dining room for the VI Form created and the Fitness Suite enlarged.

In 2010, with the school roll now on 820, a new Junior School dining room, classroom block and an extension to the Foundation Stage were completed. The old dining room was converted into a hall with a Drama facility and Art Department. A new playground and car park were added.

Following Mrs Shepley's retirement in the summer of 2011, Mr Richard Bool was appointed as Headmaster. Recent developments have been extended sports facilities including additional tennis and netball courts and cricket nets.

The school has been largely rebuilt in the last twenty years and the modern buildings are surrounded by 37 acres of wood-fringed lawns, formal gardens and playing fields. Lingfield Notre Dame provides a welcoming environment for all denominations and is the only co-educational day school in the area which provides education from nursery to university.

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