International School at Bawdsey to Close

After 20 years residence in Bawdsey Manor – built by Sir Cuthbert Quilter and famous for being the birth place of RADAR – Alexander International School has closed and the building in the process of being put up for sale.

Bawdsey Manor has a proud history associated with the development of RADAR – and was an RAF base until it was sold in 1994 to Ann and Neils Toettcher, who set up a residential school for overseas students. The school provided English language study for students aged 11-18, as well as national qualifications, including GCSEs and A-levels.

However, the school had become a financial burden in recent years – and the Manor itself is in need of a lot of money for repairs and sea defenses. In the past the owners had tried a few diversification techniques including a short foray into bed and breakfast accommodation and residential art courses.

But unable to meet annual financial targets, and following the decision by the owners to retire, the school has now closed.

A spokesman said: “It is with great sadness that after 22 years at Bawdsey Manor, Alexanders College will close at the end of August.

“We feel immensely proud that Alexanders has welcomed teenagers from around the world to learn English, and study GCSEs and A-levels.

“Many have gone on to university in the UK and are currently contributing to our society and economy. Others return to their country with a bit of England in their heart; the values and traditions we hold dear exported to the four corners of the world.

“However, we have been unable to hit our financial targets this year and the owners Ann and Neils Toettcher have decided to fully retire. Having been at the centre of this boarding school for so long, they are looking forward to more time with their grandchildren.

“I would like to thank the current staff for their commitment and dedication to our students over the years. I would also like to thank the many local suppliers who have helped Alexanders to run its programmes. It is time for the Bawdsey Manor Estate to find a new development in its history and serve the current needs of the county.”

This comes at a time when Bawdsey RADAR Trust – who lease the Transmitter Block from the Bawdsey Estate – have just begun a year long program of refurbishment, having secured a £1.4 m Heritage Lottery grant.

It will be interesting to see who comes forward to buy this huge estate – and how it will impact on BRT’s work at the Block. The Manor still has many original rooms that scientists Watson Watt and Skip Wilkins lived in while experimenting with RADAR – and some buildings on the site are still the original 1930’s huts and workshops.

It would be great if someone with vision as well as the money could develop it along the lines of Bletchley Park – there is as much potential for a similar historical complex. But it would take £5 million alone to shore up the sea defenses – so the likelihood is it will probably be developed for housing.


2 thoughts on “International School at Bawdsey to Close

  1. Like Shrubland Hall, wouldn’t it be better for all if these magnificent stately homes and grounds were bought by the National Trust?

    Perhaps with National Trust investment and management, the park and building would receive the long term care and preservation it deserves, provide an important tourist venue and allow the local public to treasure it.

    You can fit West Sussex twice into Suffolk. West Sussex has 16 National Trust sites. In Suffolk we have just 9 sites…. and sadly, despite 1300 years of history and a third of a million people dependent on the county-town, none at all near Ipswich.


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