School History

St Piran's can trace its origins to 1805 when pupils, including Benjamin Disraeli, the future Prime Minister, received their early education at a small school in Blackheath, called Eliot Place.

The school moved to its present site in 1872 while Thomas Nunns was the Headmaster, to gain from the better air and the space to play sports. Plenty of space was essential for the sons of the gentry and aspiring gentry! Cordwalles School was born and remained a successful boys' boarding school for the next 47 years.

In 1919, Major Vernon Seymour Bryant became Headmaster. He was born in Truro, Cornwall and after being educated in Exeter and then Downing College, Cambridge, he became an assistant master at Wellington. He bought Cordwalles School for £7,700 and in the Year Book of 1920 it read, "Cordwalles is no more! Long live St. Piran's!" as Major Bryant bestowed on his school the name of the Patron Saint of Cornwall. His philosophy: "Boys will have the opportunity of becoming good craftsmen in workshop, library and field. Young boys can be set to work with machinery, heavy machinery, such as will excite the imagination and create the scientific sense."

23 boys started in 1920 at St. Piran's and by 1921 there were 65 on the books paying 50 guineas each per term. In 1972 the school became an educational trust with a Board of Governors and about 180 boys. Many additions were made to the building in the seventies including an outdoor swimming pool, assembly hall, a new gymnasium, a library and a science laboratory.

In 1993, the school became fully co-educational, accepting boys and girls from age three to thirteen. Boarding came to an end at St. Piran's after 188 years and the school adapted to the demands of the local market, becoming a local school meeting local needs. Further developments under Andrew Blumer included the building of the St. Piran's Centre, providing outstanding swimming, dance and sports facilities for the pupils.

The school continues to grow under Jonathan Carroll's headship and remains a highly successful and respected Independent Preparatory School. Pupil numbers are as high as they have ever been, with approximately 400 children attending the school. We would hope that the Reverend John Potticary would approve of what his small school from Blackheath has become, two hundred years on.


Rev. John Potticary 1805-1820 

Rev. George Brown Francis Potticary 1820-1850 

Rev. Richard Cowley Powles 1850-1865 

Rev. Thomas Jackson Nunns 1865-1890 

Rev. Charles William Hunt 1890-1902 

Rev. Cyril Robert Carter 1902-1910 

Rev. Theodore William Keeling 1910-1912 

Mr. Mervyn Frank Voules 1912-1919 

Major Vernon Seymour Bryant 1919-1926 

Captain Arthur Grendon Tippet DSO 1926-1943 

Mr. Lowther Grendon Tippet 1943-1972 

Mr. Guy Gross and Mr. Andrew Perry 1972-1980 

Mr. Andrew Perry 1980-1982 

Mr. Andrew Blumer 1982-2001 

Mr. Jonathan Carroll 2001-present day

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School History Gallery

Photos from the archive