The history of Port Regis

1881 to Present day

1881 - The start of our story

The original school was founded for boys by Dr Alfred Praetorius in 1881 in Weymouth Street, London. It was later bought by a Mr and Mrs Roderick who moved it to Folkestone.

1825 - 1914 - Motcombe Park

In 1825 Robert, the 2nd Earl of Grosvenor, bought Motcombe Park along with the hilltop market town of Shaftesbury.

In 1894-1895 the main House was rebuilt in a new location within the grounds, a new home for Robert and his wife, Elizabeth Grosvenor. Whilst the original house was demolished, the stables and walled garden were retained (the beautiful home of our modern day Pre-Prep!). The architects were assisted by Ethel Mary Charles, who became the first woman to qualify as an architect.

In 1914 Hugh Grosvenor, an officer in the 14th Hussars and the 2nd Baron of Stalbridge, moved to Motcombe House. He was awarded an MC for his services in WWI. At the end of the war in 1918, Hugh returned to civilian life but had little interest in running the estate, preferring activities such as polo and breeding horses for racing. This led to the sale of the estate in 1929.

1921 - Becoming 'Port Regis'

In 1921, when the Rodericks retired, Sir Milsom Rees incorporated the school’s pupils and staff into his own school at Kingsgate, in the grounds of which stood an ancient arch, built to commemorate the landing by Charles II in 1683 to take the throne. This provided the name we all now know, Port Regis - ‘Gate of the King’.

1929-1942 - Life at Motcombe Park

In 1929 Charles Prideaux, owner of the Motcombe Dairy, bought Motcombe House. He never lived there, preferring to live in the village. However every Sunday, after church, he would drive with his daughters to the house to check all was well.

In 1942, a Prisoner of War Camp was erected in the grounds of the park, housing Germans, and, after the war, Polish refugees.

1943 - Port Regis moves to Dorset

In 1943, after a mine dropped by a German plane landed too close to the school for comfort, Port Regis was evacuated to a wing of Bryanston School.

1947 - Motcombe Park becomes home to Port Regis

Following a two-year stay at Gorhambury House near St Albans, Port Regis moved to it's final home, Motcombe Park, in the winter of 1947 - one of the coldest winters on record in the UK. Port Regis School is now synonymous with our 'Mansion' building, known historically as Motcombe House.

1976 - port regis becomes Co-educational

Under progressive Headmaster, David Prichard, in 1976 the school admitted its first intake of girls with two E Formers, one D Former and one C Former. Port Regis has since become a school of parity, with boys and girls in equal numbers.

Royal Moments

After becoming co-educational, Port Regis embarked on an ambitious programme of development. HRH Princess Anne opened the Jowett Sports Hall in 1980 and in 1991, Queen Elizabeth II opened Queen’s Hall during a visit by Her Majesty and Prince Philip to see their grandchildren, Peter and Zara Phillips. Since that time the school has added astro turf pitches, the Farrington Music School and the Upward Academic Centre to its estate.


Since 1933 the school has had just five Headmasters: John Upward (1933-1968), David Prichard (1969-1993), Peter Dix (1994-2010), Benedict Dunhill (2010-2015), Stephen Ilett (2015-2020) and the current Headmaster Titus Mills.

The School Library

Our fabulous, high ceiling library, used to be the family drawing room. As electric lights hanging from the ceiling since would have spoiled the Italian moulding, the family used standard lamps. Not only was all the furniture changed twice a year (winter and summer seating) but the coloured electric wiring was also changed to match.

© Port Regis 2024.