Our History

Our current building was first opened as a Girls’ High School in 1939 but The Cavendish School was established on this site in 1979.

Cavendish School History

The Cavendish School has a complex and intriguing history, which dates as far back as 1843, making it one of the longest established schools in the area. It was in this year that actor Douglas Moleheimer established the first incarnation of The Cavendish School, in order to pass down his love of acting. A true ‘specialist school for the Arts’, The Cavendish School became an intrinsic part of Eastbourne life, and the name quickly grew within the town. Our current building was first opened as a Girls’ High School in 1939 but The Cavendish School was established on this site in 1979. An extension was built in 1982 and further programmes of building and refurbishment have been completed in the intervening years. In September 2016 the school’s primary phase building was opened.

Until the end of the 19th century Eastbourne was made up of small rural settlements. The were 4 villages which made up the area we now know as Eastbourne:

  • Bourne (or, to distinguish it from others of the same name, East Bourne), is now known as Old Town, and this surrounded The Bourne (stream) which rises in the present Motcombe Park
  • Meads, where the Downs meet the coast
  • South Bourne (near the town hall)
  • The fishing settlement known simply as Sea Houses, which was situated to the east of the present pier.

By the mid–19th century most of the area which is now Eastbourne belonged to two landowners: John Davies Gilbert (the Davies-Gilbert family still own much of the land in Eastbourne and East Dean) and William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire and Earl of Burlington, whose home was Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. Later, the Hurst family, who were prominent millers and brewers, became the owners of Ocklynge Manor and therefore important citizens of the town. The Hurst family remained over some four generations until 1956 and their presence has been well recorded by both the naming of Hurst Road and the Hurst Arms public house, which stands on the corner of Willingdon Road. It is from the history of the town that the school gets its name and the name of its four houses:


All students are identified as members of one of the four houses. It is now mainly used for PE, although there were many battles in the past as houses fought to have the highest merit total! The PE department uses the House system as the basis for all their curricular and extracurricular tournaments. Each year we run a winter and summer inter-house tournament for years 7, 8 and 9. Our Sports Captains help organise the teams and run these tournaments as part of their role. In term 6 of each year we hold our whole school sports day. Once again teams are based in houses with our sports team helping organise and run the events.