This is the story of an extraordinary man, the Revd Nathaniel Woodard (1811-1891) who founded not only the school that became Lancing College, but Hurstpierpoint and Ardingly Colleges in Sussex as well. He founded eleven schools in his lifetime, and the Woodard Corporation today has 50 schools under its umbrella. A warm-hearted family man, Woodard’s Sussex connections began in 1847 when he was appointed curate to St Mary de Haura in the port of New Shoreham. He lived in Brighton for some time, then in 1862 moved to Henfield where he died, aged 80, nearly 30 years later. For 40 years he kept up an enormous correspondence, much of it connected with fund-raising for his schools – but his sons wrote to him about personal matters, his wife worried about his lack of shirts, and from 1868 he had the enormous burden of organising the building of Lancing College Chapel with little money but sustained by his Christian faith.
I was the archivist at Lancing College for nearly 20 years. This talk uses material from the College Archives to go behind the scenes of the history of this well-known independent school with its landmark chapel on the South Downs.