A HERITAGE Open Day at Barrow Hills School, Witley, was an opportunity for visitors to explore its principal building, Great Roke, constructed in 1909 by Buckland and Hayward, one of the leading Arts and Crafts architect firms of the Birmingham movement.

Built in the Arts and Crafts style, the former country house was hailed “the most ambitious house undertaken by the partners and arguably one of the finest large houses produced by the Birmingham movement” and it cost a princely £25,000.

After being lived in by two families, the house was bought by the Josephite Fathers as an all boys’ boarding preparatory school, which later evolved into the current co-educational day school, now run by the Bridewell Royal Hospital charity. The guided tours on offer last month also provided an opportunity to enjoy the 33-acre grounds and admire some of the handiwork by the leading landscape garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, although the gardens have since been substantially altered.

Paul Crisell deputy head and former pupil, who led the tours, said: “The Heritage Open Days at Barrow Hills are a celebration of architecture and culture, offering visitors free access to the historic school building and gardens and to hear interesting stories about the origins of the school and its architectural secrets that bring local history and culture to life.”