Millfield was founded by RJO (Jack) Meyer in 1935, following his return from India with seven Indian boys, six of whom were princes. The school was originally based in Millfield House, which is today a boarding house, but then was rented from the Clark family who owned most of Street. The school grew steadily and in 1939 became one of the first independent schools to be co-educational. In 1942, Martin Attlee, son of the then Deputy Prime Minister, Clem, joined the school in the hope of overcoming ‘word-blindness’. The Millfield method was so successful that Martin Attlee went on to university, with the school gaining fame as the first in the country to deal successfully with dyslexic pupils.
Edgarley Hall, one mile from Glastonbury, became the ‘Junior School’ for Millfield in 1945 when Jack Meyer, realising the need to accommodate increasing numbers of younger pupils arriving at his school in Street, bought the house and grounds from his friends the Thomas-Ferrands, who had seen their family home suffer from Army occupation during the war. The school itself was initially very much a ‘crammer’, under the direction of Jack Meyer himself. By the late 60s, however, a much larger proportion of pupils, including increasing numbers of girls, were transferring to Millfield Senior instead of other public schools, and by the mid-80s numbers reached nearly 500, with a corresponding improvement and expansion in facilities.
Around this time a Pre-Prep School was started on the site of the old St Louis Convent School in Glastonbury, later re-locating to the Edgarley campus, where it now shares the extensive grounds with the Prep School. Like its senior counterpart, Millfield Prep School has always stood by its founder’s ethos of attempting to discover and nurture whatever talent a young person has. It has gained an international reputation for sport and its success with dyslexic pupils, but it also achieves excellence in many other areas, not least music and the arts. Successful Prep School Old Millfieldians include politician Ruth Kelly; cricketer and Chairman of Selectors David Graveney; Professor of History at Oxford University Christopher Wickham; financier Roland Rudd; Oscar-winning film producer Jeremy Thomas and ex-rugby international Matt Perry. The best-known Prep School OMs of the current era are; World Championships-winning swimmer James Guy, former England Rugby Captain Chris Robshaw and GB and England Hockey Internationals, Richard and Simon Mantell, all of whom went on to Millfield.
Successful Old Millfieldians from the Senior School include former British Lions and Wales rugby captain Gareth Edwards; England Rugby players Jonathan Joseph and Mako Vunipola; Ireland Rugby International Rhys Ruddock; Pam Cookey, former captain of the England Netball team; BBC chief political correspondent John Sergeant; Olympic Gold medallists Duncan Goodhew, Peter Wilson and Helen Glover; entrepreneur Richard Caring; entrepreneur and political advisor Michael Hayman and drummer of legendary rock group the Police, Stewart Copeland.
Today Millfield, along with the Prep School, has some 1700 pupils and over 600 employees, but the school’s philosophy remains the same. Millfield still aims to help every individual child to achieve their full potential.