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There’s no place like home! – Heritage Open Day reflection from our Headmaster – September 2016

September 12, 2016
Ballard School Great Ballard House 1904 New Milton

There’s no place like home!

We recently opened up the Main House (originally called Great Ballard House when it was constructed around 1904) to members of the public who signed up for a guided tour as part of the National Heritage Open Days. This was the first time we have done anything like this and so it required a lot of preparation and, especially, some historical and architectural research.



We were privileged to have a lot of research undertaken by Hon. Associate Professor Anne Anderson FSA, Exeter University and V&A who has a special interest in the ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement, of which Ballard is an example. Additionally, Mr Ian Broadway, a former Edinburgh House pupil and our archivist, looked into the Ubsdell family (part British and part American) who commissioned the House in the early 1900s. One of our Marketing team, Mrs Alix Stockwell, then brought everything together for the Open Day and trained up four staff members as guides. It was a fascinating insight into the building we inhabit for much of the week!



Many of us know the experience of visiting local attractions close to where we love only when visitors or out of area family members come to us for a holiday. All of a sudden we realise that the place of historical interest or of outstanding natural beauty is really rather remarkable and we can’t understand why we’ve never investigated before. And so it was with the investigation into Great Ballard House (and not to be confused with the school in West Sussex which used to be located here in the inter-war years and then took the name with it when forced out by the military).

Ballard School Great Ballard House 1904 New Milton

1904 – construction of ‘Great Ballard House’ with thanks to Hampshire Records Office

Ballard was built as a home, albeit a rather elaborate Edwardian country house. We learnt about the eight principal bedrooms with dressing rooms (on the first floor), the five secondary bedrooms for guest and five more for servants (on the top floor) and the morning room (our reception office), billiard room (the chapel), drawing room (the Heritage Room) and dining room (the junior library).

Ballard School GCSE results Hampshire

The rivets on the front door (newly restored) point to the ‘honesty’ of the ‘Arts and Craft’ movement as the makers sought to display and celebrate the workings of the craftsmen. Our fantastic fireplaces are not only works of beauty, each one unique, but were also made to a revolutionary new design to encourage a better flow of air. The sloping, green baize, drawers in the mock-Tudor wall cabinet in the junior library have proved themselves to be cutlery drawers whilst the veranda on the first floor above the reception office loggia is in fact a ‘sleeping balcony’ which pre-dates the discovery of a TB vaccination in 1921.



I could mention many more fascinating features (and do look out for a future tour), but what struck me most was that our school is in fact a home. This adds resonance to our talk of ‘the Ballard Family’ and helps in some way to explain what visitors often remark on when they look round: the pleasing, friendly, atmosphere. Long may we value this ethos and respect the property which helps us connect socially, spiritually and practically!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an non-selective, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here


For more on our #TBT (ThrowBack Thursday) blog – see this one which includes pictures of some of our original features.

Link to Hampshire Record Office

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