lillesden school for girls

Tucked away in a little corner of the Kent countryside, this little gem had been on our list for a while. 


Lillesden School for Girls occupies what used to be the Lillesden Estate Mansion, built at the estate (south of Hawkhurst) by the banker Edward Loyd, who co-founded the Loyd Entwistle & Co bank, which later became the District Bank and ultimately the National Westminster (Natwest). Loyd had Lillesden Mansion built  after he married Caroline Louisa Foster on the 12th March 1846 at Ashton-on-Mersey.  He bought the Lillesden estate at Hawkhurst, Kent in 1853 and built the mansion, finished in 1855.

Throughout the building there are strong signs of a Scottish connection - for example there is an abundence of thistles in the stonework and decorative motifs, but Lloyd himself was of Welsh descent. His wife was from a distinguished Jamaican family and was in fact born there, so the Scottish connection will have to remain a mystery.

After the Great War the house and its estate was sold and became Bedgebury Public Girls School.  The school sadly closed in 1999 due to a number of issues, mainly falling pupil numbers, low demand for all-girls schools and a merger that ‘went wrong’. The TV fashion guru Trinny Woodall was one of the more famous alumni, and the school did boast extremely high standards for  £4,300 per term. The closure seems to have shocked parents and pupils alike, as grades were at an all time high and bankruptcy was not an issue. The building itself was a grade II listed French-style chateau, set in 200 acres of Kentish gardens and forests, with ponies stabled in the grounds, a dreamland for children. It was, as one child was quoted as saying, ‘too perfect to last’.”

The earliest reference I can find is a class of 1920. The school merged with nearby Bedgebury School in 1976 and became the Lower Bedgebury School.

The following is a quote from the Times Newspaper about the closing of the school in 1999:

“My daughter has been crying — nothing unusual about that I suppose. She is 15, and girls do cry — when they’ve argued with a friend, not been invited to a party, or failed to get the mark they wanted in exams. But actually, it’s none of those things. The reason is that the school Charlotte has been a day girl at for the last four years is closing. “Why, I don’t understand . . . we love it here, why should we have to leave?” was all she and her friends could say.“


It is a relatively well known fact among "Whovians" (Doctor Who fans) that several episodes of "The Curse of Fenrick" featuring The Doctor and Ace were filmed in the building.

The house has had a large amount of its lead roof removed and the elements had started to take their toll on the place before the developers erected a tin roof over part of the building. It still stands in a series of stunning terraced lawns with well cultured trees and wild roses that clamber up the brick walls.


Since I have started making some of the photographs I took public, there has been a great deal of interest in the formation of supernatural phenomena in some of the photos - Orbs and strange light anomolies appear in some and at one point, it appears that there is what looks like a young boy sat hugging his knees with his back against a wall. We found this photo whilst investigating the tunnels under the site. Roughly a month later, I have found this on a completely unrelated website - pretty much conformation of what it may have been, but not at the place or time stated. I'll let you all decide for yourselves.


I was at Lillesden in the 1950s. Love all the pictures that are now appearing on the web! Just a note on the history. It was Lillesden School immediately after the war; it was acquired by Bedgebury later. We always thought that it had been a boys’ school between the wars. The ghost of a boy who had died there was supposed to appear in the large mirror on Hallowe’en.

Infiltration date: May 2012.

Agents present: ghost & skyframe.

CLICK HERE for further resources about Lillesden School for Girls


ABOVE: Once through the door in the hoardings, we were greeted by a small courtyard, walled in by  some of the prettiest brickwork I have ever found. We suspect that the block to the left of the beautiful clock tower is a later addition, as it seems a little odd to have such an imposing looking clock tower partially obscured in a corner. The Gothic architectural style lends the building a wonderfully romantic spooky look. Wonderful.

ABOVE: Just had to get a shot of this end of the building - possibly a little uninteresting until you notice the chimney. The amount of engineering and head scratching that must have gone into building it at such a rakish angle must have been enormous for such an easily missed feature. Just off the right of the photo, a little covered area contained an archway and stairs down to what we thought at first was a cellar, but turned out to be quite a complex network of tunnels, shown in detail in the next few photos.

ABOVE LEFT & RIGHT: Both colour and Black & White images of the same location reveal some interesting anomolies on the photos (ringed). On entering the tunnels, Ghost noticed a distinct change in the feel of the place and can only describe it as "an overwhelming feeling that something or someone was quite proud of the place and whilst not hostile, wanted to be assured that we weren't going to interfere with anything". There wasn't a feeling of being watched, but having uploaded the photos to the website, there are what appear to be 'Orbs' in the photos that weren't present on taking them at the scene.

I have not been able to ascertain what has caused them, but I cannot relate them to any kind of flying insect present at the time and if it were dust motes, why are there not huge clouds of them? The atmosphere in the tunnels was a little damp and there wasn't really anywhere that would have produced large levels of dust. So... what is it? There is what I thought in the original photo was a fast moving object, just to the lower left of the circle, but this is definitely something laying on the floor. What is the object circled, though? No matter how I attempt to change the levels of light, darkness or contrast in the photo, some trace of it still remains, so it isn't anything reflective. It also appears in other photos and appears to be almost trying to lead or guide us. I reiterate, it didn't feel threatening at the time, just....almost want to make sure things weren't disturbed.

 ABOVE: Another apparent 'Orb', circled, further along the tunnel. Some people with overactive imaginations have also found other things in these two photos and I haven't been able to substantiate them, instead putting them down to aliasing caused by increasing the saturation of the photos, but.... if your imagination is good, then you may see either a man or boy in a black blazer and white shirt on the left at the end of the tunnel, or a woman in a white dress on the right, in the doorway. Personally, I thin it's just a door. I can't explain the Orb, though.

ABOVE: Black and White edit of the same photo - done in order to see if the 'Orb' is caused by anything obvious - a reflective source or anything obvious that could discredit the image, but there isn't anything obvious. It isn't anything on the camera lens as it doesn't appear in the same location in ever photo and in the next pair of images, there are 3 of the buggers.... 

ABOVE LEFT & RIGHT: This freaked Ghost right out during photo editing - he had to turn the computer off! There are what appear to be 3 'Orbs' in the original colour picture on the left. I reiterate that there is nothing obvious that has caused the presence of the anomolies and they certainly weren't present in the photo at the time, APART from the line, which is circled at the bottom of the photo, in the middle. I can remember at the time of taking the picture that something "flashed" at the time of taking the photo, appearing to reflect the LED flash of the camera.  On closer inspection, there was nothing present on the ground or wall that could have caused such a reflection.

On successively brightening, darkening or changing the contrast of the photo, I haven't been able to ascertain what caused this. Now, at this point I have to explain the image on the RIGHT.

On brightening the black and white image to try and find out what caused the line at the bottom, I found something began to loom up at me out of the darkness. Ringed on the photo, there appears to be a boy wearing a blazer, sat in the corner with his back against the side wall, hugging his knees, bare footed.

This frightened the hell out of me (Ghost) during photo editing - I had to turn the computer off and do something else. What made it even more un-nerving was finding the reference to the ghost of a young boy in the building, that apparently appeared in the large mirror on the first floor - but only at Halloween, making it seem very implausible, but at the same time really making me wonder about what is in the photo. I stress again, there was no noticeable change in the atmosphere, it didn't get cold, feel threatening, there were no odd noises at the time and it definitely didn't feel frightening in any way, but whatever it is in the photos wasn't there when they were taken.

BELOW: More 'Orbs'. In the first photo, it appears to be "leading" to the doorway. In the pair below, it appears to move diagonally across the open doorway, illustrated by the arrow, but beyond the doorway, there is no perceived presence of any kind, no strange feel or any more 'Orbs'.  beyond the doorway is particularly dark, but didn't feel at all threatening in any way, so if the little 'Orb' did have a message for us or some kind of other-worldly purpose, it wasn't understood and was wasted on us, I'm afraid....

ABOVE: At the end of the tunnel, immediately to the left of the Basement Bar and Club, this flight of stone steps rises into the central hallway of the main nucleus of the building.

ABOVE, LEFT & RIGHT: As with pretty much all of the abandoned locations we have found prior to this trek, we have always found an abundence of carefully arranged freaky photos. The baby doll looking through the grating is a little strange and slightly disturbing, but  appears to be one of the most widely photographed scenes from Lillesden Girls' School on the net. This was in a large room opposite the stairway up to the ground floor, which we found next to the basement Bar and Club.

BELOW: The windows in the Basement Club gave us some very atmospheric photos... The rear doorway to the Club is seen bottom left of the 4. It appears that the Club has suffered a bad fire at some time, but thankfully appears to be a later case of arson in the period of abandonment, rather than a root cause of closure of the school.

BELOW: The Bar has, thankfully, escaped any serious fire damage and still has a few bottles behind it, as modelled by Agent Skyframe. 

BELOW: Looking back down the stone steps from the ground floor back towards the Bar and tunnels under the majority of the floor space.

BELOW LEFT & RIGHT: Despite a large degree of vandalism and damage during the period of abandonment, this wonderful old building still remains very photogenic.


ABOVE & BELOW: Then and now: 2 shots of the same view - the beautiful main frontage of the building - slightly more weathered, but still looking fantastic today.

ABOVE: No, it's not falling down! Sadly, the intervals between the photos that made up this panoramic image that it was nigh on impossible to match them up without a major headache - a great shame as it would have been a good shot. It does, however, give a good insight into the beautiful detail in the brickwork, so for that reason, it stays!

ABOVE: 3/4 view of the main frontage of the building. The scaffolding is part of the corrugated tin roof that has been erected over the building, following the theft of part of the lead flashing on the tiled roof. it may also have been part of an earlier (failed) attempt by a property developer to attempt any repairs to the place. As mentioned earlier in this report, the damage caused by water ingress from the removed lead has caused 2 central and extremely substantial stone pillars to crack up and disintegrate. They are fairly pivotal to the structural integrity of the bulk of the property.  

ABOVE: If you are a big fan of St. Trinian's, this would probably be where the girls hung out for a crafty smoke or a bit of covert bullying.... There is also an archway and stairs leading down to the tunnels on one side just beyond the archway.

ABOVE: This shot shows the opposite side of the block looking East. The courtyard and our way in are on the far side of the roof bottom left. The dormer roof windows are incredibly ornate and a little over engineered for what seems to be a relatively small extension.

ABOVE: Detail shot of the clock tower and the incredibly ornate windows around the surrounding area. We are guessing that the block to the left of the tower was a later addition, as the clock tower looks as though it was intended to be a particularly imposing feature and is now partially obscured.

ABOVE: Whilst the frontage of the site looks quite imposing, it was quite easy to miss whilst we were looking for it: There are a lot of trees around the site and it is on quite a fast stretch of road. It was a case of yelling "found it!!", whacking the brakes on and finding somewhere nearby to park... Any history we could find on the property say that it had been sold to either a wealthy family or to property developers, so we are wondering about the 'For Sale' sign outside. we really hope that it is for sale and that someone makes a sympathetic conversion of the place. It is incredibly pretty and deserves to survive.

ABOVE: We aren't sure if this little place was connected with the Lillesden Estate proper, but it must have been a fantastic little place in its time. However, thanks to the incredible short sightedness of 1960's property development, it has ended up as an incongruous mess of architectural styles, with the top floor totally at odds with the overall feel of the place. They could at least have made the top floor windows reflect the style of the bottom ones.

ABOVE: This is the estate warden's lodge. I am very pleased that this little building has become a private residence - it has some fantastic architectural features and is a little hint at how good the school building could look, fully restored.

ABOVE: What a fantastic little feature to have in your garden! This little water tower served the entire estate, but somehow doesn't look substantial enough to drive both the lodge and the school. Again, we are very happy it has survived in such nice condition.