Our History

In October 2021, Mr Khan of Alpha Schools Group purchased Wellesley House School with the intention of merging this with Haddon Dene School.  September 2022 marked a significant moment in the history of both Wellesley House and Haddon Dene, as our schools amalgamated to create a thriving and flourishing independent co-educational day and boarding prep school for children aged 2 to 13, set in our stunning surroundings in Broadstairs.  The illustrious paths and successes of both schools are combined to create a modern, dynamic education offering and a wonderfully warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Haddon Dene History

The name ‘Haddon’ comes from Haddon Hall, the beautiful Elizabethan home of the Manners family in Derbyshire. The word Dene comes from the land upon which the school is built, ‘Dene Mount’.

Haddon Dene was founded by Miss Olive Vyse in 1929. She was approached by the parents of a girl pupil she was coaching who, having been frustrated with their efforts to find a suitable school for their daughter, suggested that she start a school of her own. This she did in the summer of 1929 in one room of the Vyse’s home in Gladstone Road, Broadstairs. From the humble beginning of just three girls rising to ten by the autumn of that year, the number of children grew steadily.

The war years brought continued expansion aided by the steady influx of American children to the school. In the early hours of one morning, Miss Vyse received a telephone call from the parents of a twelve-year-old girl in America asking if their daughter could be enrolled as a border. Miss Vyse agreed, thus Haddon Dene became a boarding school and expanded to secondary school age.

One notable incident involving the school during the war years, occurred during a concert at the Pavilion, in Broadstairs, put on by the Council for Education in the Arts (CEMA). The concert, largely made up of students and teachers from Haddon Dene, was interrupted by the sound of bombs exploding. The packed audience stood up, but the pianist continued to play, the children carried on performing and slowly the audience sat down, and the concert continued. Headlines the following day in the ‘London Evening News’ read: ‘Children defy Hitler’.

By the 1950’s, more space was needed for the school and Miss Vyse bought Number 57, Gladstone Road. With considerably more than 100 children, the school was split, boys in one building and girls in the other. Indeed, there were always two Sports Days, one for girls and one for boys. In 1968, Miss Vyse retired and her friend, Mrs Batts, a teacher at the school, took over the reins.

In 1976, Mr Barrie Watkins, a former pupil at Haddon Dene bought the school and the school prospered to over 200 children. Mr Watkins, who sadly died last year, was a popular Headmaster and one who did much to shape the school into its present form. With the ending of its secondary school in 1972, the school concentrated, as now, on teaching 3 – 11 years old boys and girls.

In September 1984, Mr Warren and his wife took over from Dr White. In their short time at Haddon Dene, they continued and enhanced the traditional philosophies of the school emphasising the need for a balanced education and the development of children’s characters and personalities. 1988 saw the acquisition of Dene Mount and the transfer of the Junior School from Number 51. For the first time in the school’s history, both Preparatory and Junior Schools shared the same site.

In 1994, Dr Peter Smith and his wife Christine purchased the school. Ten years later, they sold the school to the current owner, Mr Khan of Alpha Schools Group. For 90 years, Haddon Dene has provided children with the very best preparation for their start in life, ensuring that they are thoroughly prepared for their next steps, equipped with a strong work ethic and inbuilt resilience.