History of the House and Grounds
West Heath School moved to Ashgrove House in 1932 when it was bought by Miss Elliot. The school had opened in 1865 in Abbey Wood and moved to a house in Ham Common until the encroachment of London forced its transfer to the country again.
West Heath flourished as a small, girls’ boarding school. It is the school at which Diana, later to become Princess of Wales, spent what she described as the ‘happiest days’ in her life. Coincidently, the school went into Receivership on the 1st September 1997, a day after she and her friend Dodi Fayed were so tragically killed.
West Heath was purchased by The Al Fayed Charitable Trust Sevenoaks on the 14th August 1998. The New School at West Heath opened on the 4th September 1998, we reverted back to the original name of West Heath School in 2015.
West Heath is set in 32 acres of grounds containing many historical and beautiful plants and trees.
Some of our rhododendrons are a lasting testimony to the 18th century – an article in the 1917 edition of Kentish Homes refers to “…the famous rhododendron plantation. Some of these are over 46 feet high and are said to be the highest in England. They were planted in about 1790 and at the same period an inner fringe of azaleas were planted which are now great trees.” This was named the American garden.
Trees planted more recently include a group of flowering cherries. Sadly when the original West Heath School went into receivership, the plaques identifying the trees and the events each remembered, such as Diana’s engagement, marriage and her sons’ births, were sold. In 1999 the tradition was re-started when Wayne Sleep planted a Beech tree to commemorate the opening of the New School at West Heath. This tradition continues with trees being planted to celebrate important historical dates such as the wedding of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and the birth of Prince George.