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This is the classic view from Roedean cherished by girls and staff. Away to the west you can see the Marina, Pier and Brighton itself. The quintessential English village of Rottingdean, with its windmill and golf course, is along the coast to the east. Within the school grounds you can pick out the 12 netball and tennis courts and the athletics, cricket, rounders, hockey and lacrosse pitches.
Roedean was designed by Sir John Simpson, the Victorian architect most famous for designing the original Wembley Stadium (note his architectural signature, the twin towers). The main reception is located under the clock in the centre of the Quad; House 2 and 3 flank the sides of the Quad. This is often a busy part of the school as it is where the minibuses drop off and collect girls from the Quad.
Receptionists Mary and Breda are on hand to welcome visitors as they first enter the school. The fireplace is often full of displays of work, charity cake stalls or Young Enterprise products. The staircases in front lead to the Dame Emmeline Tanner Library, the language and humanities classrooms and the staffroom. The main corridor, reputedly the longest of any girls’ school in Europe, passes through the reception.
The Dame Emmeline Tanner Library, named after a former Roedean Headmistress, is one of three libraries at Roedean. Together, they hold nearly 20,000 books, alongside CDs and DVDs, daily English newspapers and 50 academic journals and lifestyle magazines. Library staff are always available to recommend reading or guide research.
The Old Reference Library was completed in 1911. Among its 2000 books, there are over 200 written by Old Roedeanians, including seven books by the award-winning Adèle Geras, whose children’s novel, The Tower Room, was based on her fond memories of Roedean. The Old Reference Library is used for formal meetings and as a quiet study space for sixth form girls.
The Cloisters are an oasis of calm within the centre of the school. They are formed from the side of the Chapel, the Blyth classroom and the main corridor leading to the dining room. The cloisters are used for art exhibitions as part of the Brighton Art Open House Weekend, summer parties and drinks receptions, as well as the classic Roedean tradition of ’handshaking’.
Striking in its simplicity, the Chapel was opened in 1906. It features Italian marble walls and floors, oak panelling, beautifully detailed stained glass windows and a white Ensign flag (usually only seen on Royal Navy ships or premises) dating from the second world war. The marble was finally completed in 1953 and is today used for school chapel services, recitals and concerts.
Roedean has a semi-professional theatre recently described by one external company as ‘an absolute gem’*. It seats 320 and is used for school productions, as well as by external drama and dance companies. There is an orchestra pit, green room with eight make up booths and a video feed from the stage, and a substantial costume, scenery and props collection. *Earwig Productions
Roedean has always taught science to a very high level; an important point when one considers how easily girls in co-ed schools can be intimidated by the sciences. The science block was opened by Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, and the resources, technicians and facilities, such as the wind tunnel, would equal those found at many UK universities.
The 25 metre swimming pool is used by the girls for lessons, gala competitions and other activities such as synchronised swimming, water polo and scuba diving. It is supervised by qualified life guards and is also used regularly by external clubs such as Brighton Swimming Club for their sea swimming programme.
The superbly equipped Fitness Room is popular with students and staff. Machines include two steppers, four cross-trainers, four treadmills, five bikes, five rowing machines, two weight stations and a good selection of free weights. The Fitness Room is located in the sports hall with access to changing facilities and showers and stunning sea views.
The large sports hall is used for the full range of indoor sports such as netball, badminton, volleyball, indoor cricket nets, fencing, indoor hockey, basketball, trampolining and gymnastics. The hall is also used for Speech Day and Prizegiving.
The houses are the heart of school life for both day and boarding girls. They gather at lunchtimes and after school to catch up with friends, relax and do prep. Here, the Drawing Room in House 4 is pictured, with its ornate fireplace, piano, sofas and iconic sea views, but the Drawing Rooms in the other Houses are very similar.
At Horizons Café Nicky and her colleagues sell paninis, freshly baked cookies, smoothies and other snacks, making the café an ideal environment to catch up with friends. Girls can also buy a selection of toiletries, stationery, cards and gifts. There is a TV lounge at one end, a cash machine at the other and free wifi throughout.
Keswick House is home for up to 100 Year 13 boarders and Head of House Miss Steele. As it is the last stop before university, it has the strong feel of a college hall of residence with a self-service restaurant, single en-suite bedrooms and lounges.
Students at Keswick House enjoy the best food on campus in a relaxed, informal environment. Chef Steve creates a wide variety of fresh, healthy dishes appeal to the more mature tastes of young adults. At the weekends, there is a popular brunch and a delicious evening meal.