World War 1

Dover College was founded on 15 September 1871 by a group of local businessmen, led by the Mayor of Dover, Dr Astley, who considered that it would be beneficial for the town to have its own public school.

The College sits in idyllic surroundings in the grounds of a 12th Century Benedictine Priory.  The first 15 boys occupied St Martin’s House under the guidance of the first headmaster, Canon William Bell. Bell was a strict disciplinarian. His energetic wife, who cared deeply for the boys, looking after all their day-to-day needs, balanced his huge presence around College. Mrs. Bell died young, in 1892 the clock tower was added on to the Chapel in her memory.

During Canon Bell’s 21 years as Headmaster, the College grew substantially. Two new boarding houses, the old Priory House and School House, were added in 1877 and 1881 respectively, new classrooms were built, and the Priory Guest House – used as a barn since the dissolution of the monastery in 1535 – was restored and consecrated as the College’s Chapel.

The Refectory and the Gatehouse, the two other original 12th Century buildings, both in a considerable state of decay, were renovated and brought into use by the School within a few years of its foundation.

In 1892, the Reverend William Cookworthy Compton succeeded Canon Bell as Headmaster. Compton had been a Housemaster at Uppingham. In 1895 the fives courts were built, Middle Ground was levelled, and by 1896 the school had reached 200 boys. More development followed. The tuck shop was added in 1898, the original sanatorium in 1901, and in 1902 the Science Block was built. At this time, no less than 18 Old Dovorians were at Cambridge University.

Compton resigned his Headship of the College in late 1910 and was replaced by FW Lushington. It was during his time as Headmaster that World War I began. In 1915, Lushington decided that his time would be better spent serving his country than the College and so he left Dover College to become an Army Chaplain.