Our buzzing, modern prep section for girls started life as a residential nursery in Tunbridge Wells, founded in the 1940s by Helen Gully. It became a school in the 50s and grew in size and reputation under the leadership of two friends, Mrs Fuller and Mrs York, whose response when invited to run a school was: ‘Let’s give it a whirl!’
Derwent Lodge was the first school in the area to offer 8am-6pm wraparound care, because the leadership could see this was what working parents needed. In 1993, the school moved to Somerhill having outgrown its town centre premises. The younger children joined the Pre-Prep, then called ‘Bickies’ after Michael Bickmore who founded Yardley Court. Mrs Fuller became the Deputy Head of Bickies. The older girls had a wing of the mansion to themselves, and Mrs York remained the Head.
In 2002 Somerhill held a reunion party for Derwent Lodge’s 50th anniversary. Mrs York retired at Christmas in 2003. Her ‘let’s give it a whirl!’ approach endures in our Derwent Lodge ethos: ‘Have a go, or you’ll never know.’
For more detail on our history please go to our Heritage page.