Selden Terrace, Worthin In January 1883, The Revd. Philip Crick founded the school in Selden Terrace, Worthing. No name had been decided upon and when the sign writer came, as Mr. Crick was reading Saint Ronan’s Well, the name Saint Ronan’s was decided upon. The actual Saint Ronan has rather obscure origins from Ireland, Cornwall & Brittany.


In 1887, Revd. Crick decided to build a new school and by the following January the roof was going on. A typhoid epidemic, in January 1892, drove the school of 35 boys to St. Leonards-on Sea but by 1894 the school was safely back in Worthing.More about Revd. Crick


Charles Eugene Gunther was born in 1863 and he and his first wife, Leonie Korte (born 1866), bought the Tongswood Estate (c. 3,500 acres) in May 1903.More about The Gunther family


Revd. Crick retired in 1909 and Stanley Harris became the new headmaster. A remarkable man, he wrote The Master and his Boys and, with the help of a dedicated staff, including “Mrs. Vass”, Sir Richard Vassar-Smith’s mother, built up the school. The school was run on the principle that children are taught by the example of the adults around them and so developed a system in which the teachers and children work together to achieve their aims. This is still a guiding principle today.


In 1909, the chance came for Stanley Harris to buy Saint Ronan’s from the Reverend Crick. It was then that his father, Sir Alexander Harris, stepped in and pledged all that he had, including his life policies, as security against a loan.More about Sir Alexander Harris


In 1909, at the age of just 28, Stanley Shute Harris acquired the school, with his father’s financial support, from The Reverend Philip Crick (who was then aged 54). He thus became the school’s second headmaster.More about Stanley Shute Harris


When Stanley Harris died in 1926 his brother, then a housemaster at Lancing, took over. W.B. Harris, generally known as "Dick" but to the school as “Harry”, ran the school for thirty years, including the last twelve at Worthing. W.B. Harris was a keen photographer and we have some remarkable 16mm footage of the Worthing days, some of it in colour.More about Dick Harris


In 1940 the school was evacuated from Worthing and went to Bicton Park in Devon, a beautiful house with landscaped gardens. Bicton is now an agricultural college and the gardens are open to the public.


Tongswood (Hawkhurst) and its contents were finally sold in 1945. W.B.Harris, Saint Ronan’s third headmaster, bought the House together with c. 260 acres of land, including the Walled Nursery, Orchard House (the Baliff’s House) as well as the Model (or Home) Farm and had the lease transformed to a freehold. He then moved Saint Ronan’s across from its wartime home, Bicton Park in Devon. More about the Tongswood Estate


In 1957 Sir Richard Vassar-Smith took over the school and two generations of Vassar-Smiths have made Saint Ronan’s their home, so that Saint Ronan’s is both a home and a school. This friendly family ethos is central to the school’s success and happiness.More about Sir Richard Vassar-Smith


Sir John Rathborne Vassar-Smith was the school’s fifth Headmaster. He succeeded his father, Sir Richard, as Headmaster in April 1971 and led the School for the next 26 years until his retirement in December 1997. More about the Sir John Vassar-Smith


Sir John Vassar-Smith, "Johnny Vass", retired in 1997 and Edward Yeats-Brown, "Mr. Y-B" was appointed headmaster. He was succeeded in January 2003 by William Trelawny-Vernon. More about Edward Yeats-Brown


William Trelawny-Vernon (Mr TV) was appointed Headmaster of Saint Ronan’s in January 2003 and frequently tells us that he has the best job in the world! More about the William Trelawny Vernon

Contact Us

If you have any further information about the history of Saint Ronan's, the buildings or people, or wish to contact us for any other matter, please do let us know.