A MESSAGE FROM THE ARCHIVES – SEDBERGH’S EARLY INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS

Recent years have seen much discussion on the topic of establishing an overseas Sedbergh School. With a reputation as well established as Sedbergh’s it is little surprise that the school inspired and influenced schools across several continents during the twentieth century.

In 1939 Frank Duxbury founded a school in Canada so closely based on the Sedbergh model that it even shared Sedbergh’s name. As a pupil Frank Duxbury (SH 1912 – 1918) threw himself in to the Sedbergh way of life becoming a prefect, Head of House and a cadet officer. He won the Ten Mile two years in a row and remained so fond of the fells surrounding the town that he returned regularly for the rest of his life to walk the Howgills. Frank joined the Royal Field Artillery in the summer of 1918 before beginning his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge a year later. After graduating he spent a year working at an English prep school and then moved to Canada to teach at the Lower School of Ridley College, St. Catherines, Ontario where he stayed for 5 years.
Duxbury, along with a group of friends and colleagues, decided to build a new school in a beautiful setting around 5 miles north of Montebello with an emphasis on outdoor pursuits. They themselves dug the foundation trenches for the school and built much of the initial site. A prospectus published in 1939 describes what Sedbergh School Canada had to offer:

(1) Sedbergh is based upon sound principles of Scholarship, health and development of personality.(2) The school’s location and facilities offer a well-rounded programme in a beautiful setting.
(3) Being a small school, it guarantees individual attention for every student, allowing each boy to progress according to his individual capacities.
(4) Sedbergh has a home-like atmosphere, eliminating any undesirable regimentation.
(5) Sedbergh offers a complete scholarship and sports programme.
(6) Sedbergh teaches tolerance.

Sedbergh School, Canada thrived during the twentieth century, its many miles of cross country ski routes and forest trails inspired a love of nature in thousands of young people. Sadly the school closed in 2010.

Half a world away the Doon School in Uttarakhand, India was being established with the same emphasis on outdoor recreation. The school was founded in 1935 by Satish Ranjan Das, a lawyer from Calcutta who had been educated at Manchester Grammar School and wanted to provide the same educational opportunities within India. He recruited Arthur Foot to be Headmaster and John Martyn, son of Evans Housemaster A. J. K. Martyn, as deputy Headmaster.

John Martyn spent his childhood in Evans House observing the daily routines of Sedbergh life and his father’s skill guiding young men through adolescence. John Martyn began his teaching career at Harrow School before moving to the Doon School in India. After his short spell as Deputy Head he took over as Headmaster and using his father’s teachings worked to recreate the atmosphere and ethos of Evans House in the hot and humid environment of Uttarakhand, India. Despite the difference in climate he worked to include many of the common Sedbergh outdoor pursuits such as cricket, running and hill walking in to the daily life of the Doon School.

Neither Foot nor Martyn had visited India prior to their appointments but both were drawn to the positions after learning of the proximity of the school to the mountains. Both men felt that access to the outdoors was vital for a school and hoped to incorporate mountaineering activities as a key part of the school structure. Development of resilience and leadership skills through mountaineering have continued to played an important role at the school and each half term boys take part in a week long trek which the older pupils are encouraged to play a role in organising. The school site itself has 30 acres of playing fields and daily sport is played throughout term time. Peter McLaughlin who retired from his post of Headmaster at the Doon School in May of this year was Headmaster at Casterton School 2005 – 2009.

Katy de la Rivière
School Archivist

The_Doon_School
ice hockey at Sedbergh Canada
cross country skiing sedbergh cananda