Hurst Festival tour of the college - Hurstpierpoint College

Hurst Festival tour of the college

Hurst College is a founding supporter of the Hurst Festival, and each year continues to provide events and venues as part of the lively, vibrant village arts festival. The annual tour of the college is one such event and this year was hosted by the Head of Senior Prep, Ian Pattison. The tour started with refreshments in the delightful inner quad, surrounded by the flint walls of various day and boarding houses, as well as the Chapel and Dining Hall on the north side.


Next on the agenda was the stunning Chapel, construction began in 1861 and was not considered structurally complete until the tower was finally added in 1929. It houses four plaques commemorating the lives of long serving members of staff who played an important role in the college’s history during the 20th century – one of the Masters, Robert Bury, had both the old and new theatres named after him. There are further plaques in various places within the Chapel but most poignant are those in the Memorial Chapel, inscribed with the names of 108 pupils and staff who lost their lives in conflict. There have been some recent additions to the Chapel such as new seating around the altar, a mezzanine floor and a new stained-glass window – during the summer, new LED lighting was installed which enhances its magnificence.

From the Chapel, visitors walked through the cloisters where the Boars Head Procession takes place towards the end of each Michaelmas term, on or close to the Feast of St Nicholas. Having seen the ceremony performed at Queens College Oxford, the first Headmaster brought the tradition to Hurst. Although the route has now changed and been extended to accommodate all Senior School students, it has lost none of its magic, as the choir makes its way through the unlit cloisters, holding candles, whilst singing the Boar’s Head carol.

Performing arts

Visitors then moved on to the more contemporary parts of the college. In the Academic Quad, which has been significantly extended in the last 20 years, each subject has its own section. The co-curricular department is another area which has seen a great deal of recent development. None more so than drama, with the completion of the New Bury Theatre five years ago – a glorious base for the performing arts and the wooden interior is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Globe. The latest and largest dance studio was completed shortly after as part of an extension to the Music School and is connected to the theatre via a bridge so that all performing arts disciplines are fully connected. Alongside lies the swimming pool and old Bury Theatre, which will soon be replaced by a new swimming pool and an extension to the Sports Hall.

Dining Hall

The tour continued past the Prep School on the west side of the campus where pupils from Reception to Year 8 are based, as well as theUpper Sixth students in St John’s, their university-style hall of residence. Walking back towards the inner quad between the Science Block and Academic Quad, visitors passed through the attractive new oak walkway at the back of the kitchens. The construction took a little longer than expected, as is often the case when old buildings are concerned, partly due to the discovery of an old well.

Finally, the tour entered the Dining Hall, often likened to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, complete with wall-hung portraits of previous headmasters and flags hanging below the vaulted ceiling. Back in the inner quad at the end of the tour, visitors were able to peer through the windows of the Common Room – complete with lounge – often frequented in the evenings by the many members of teaching staff who live on-site.


Further information about the college is available in a history book, Hurstpierpoint College 1849-1995: The School by the Downs by Peter King, is on sale from the college Reception, priced at £10.