Old Buckenham Hall

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Old Buckenham Hall, near Lavenham, Suffolk, is one of the UK’s leading independent co-educational preparatory schools for children aged 3-13, and has been educating children for 160 years.

Old Buckenham Hall is a very special place for your child to begin their educational journey. Here, children remain just that. They experience, they learn, they grow, and they do so within one of the most idyllic environments imaginable. Every teacher at Old Buckenham Hall is committed to delivering the very best for every child. For us this means inspirational academic and co-curricular teaching, outstanding pastoral care and embracing risk and challenge. Children here feel happy and safe and they have a chance to explore their aspirations and develop their character.

We have three Boarding Houses and provide a range of boarding options; from two or three nights in school as a transitional boarder, to weekly boarding – enabling fuller involvement in evening activities and full boarding, which allows pupils to stay in for 11 nights and enjoy the exciting activities offered throughout the weekend.

Every child takes part in the Old Buckenham Explorer’s – a bushcraft, survival, wilderness living, character and leadership development programme which is embedded into the school curriculum. Years 6, 7 and 8 work towards gaining their Level 1 and 2 NCFE Diploma in wilderness living and bushcraft skills, whilst also completing other modules in leadership training.

High academic standards and strong pastoral care are a given here. We send children on to the best public schools in the country. What makes OBH truly unique is the strong sense of community and really knowing every child. There is a reason why our alumni (the Buckeneers) come back year after year. We are not called the One Big Hug school for nothing.

Our approach is very much one of Sport for all. Inclusivity is our absolute priority. We offer a range of traditional team sports for boys and girls to include: Rugby; hockey; netball; athletics; football and cricket. The latter of which we are moving towards a co-ed platform. We also offer alternative sports such as pop-lacrosse, touch rugby and dodge ball.

Individual sports include tennis. We have three coaches who support recreational players and we have a number of county and national players. We also have clay-shooting, archery, rock climbing, fly-fishing, sailing, swimming, horse-riding, golf and football. Most sports can be undertaken at school which is a great advantage of our extensive playing fields and woodlands.

The children in Pre-Prep have plenty of sport and outdoor education. When they reach Year 3 things really ramp up and they have sport every day after lunch. This is the pattern for the rest of their time at OBH.

As with sport, we encourage drama for all. We have truly outstanding results for extra-curricular drama. It is a rarity for a child to pass an exam with a distinction or merit. Our standout performances have been our outdoor production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Wizard of Oz – the full version of this RSC classic. We encourage children to be involved backstage, but we also want them on stage. Even the most nervous child will always smile once the curtain comes down and they hear the audience cheering.

Over 70% of children at OBH play an instrument and many play two or more. We have 12 peripatetic teachers, and we teach every genre and instrument that you can imagine. We have a great history of musicians who are alumni of the school and this is sure to continue in future years.

We see each child as an individual and remain deliberately small for that very reason. We have some quieter children and some true extroverts. We value all for who they are.

Our school is 160 years old and celebrated the centenary of an England Australia cricket match by hosting in 1921. The Australian team’s dressing room is still our First XI pavilion. The original house was built 700 years ago, although the ‘new’ building is only four hundred years old. Past residents include Napoleon’s brother.

In May 2018, Old Buckenham Hall received the top rating of ‘excellent’ in all areas by ISI. Their report comments that pupils of all ages are energetic, enthusiastic, confident and happy learners who make excellent progress and achieve high levels of success in scholarships and senior school entrance examinations. 

For further information about the school please contact the Registrar. Email: or telephone 01449 740252.


London 2023
Event type
East of EnglandBoarding
Year Established:
James Large
Church of England
Boys & Girls
School Setting:
Age Range:
Nursery & Pre-Prep
Fee Range (Termly):
Day: £3,596 to £7,295 Boarding: £8,348 to £9,505
Exit exams:
13+ Common Entrance & Scholarship
Famous Alumni:
Benjamin Britten - English composer, conductor, and pianist Harry Judd – Drummer in McFly George Blagden – Actor Tom West – English professional Rugby union player


Attending Events


Nov 2024

The Independent Schools Show 2024
Brettenham Park, Ipswich, IP7 7PH

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Nov 2024

The flagship, the original, where it all began 17 years ago. Friday 8 November and Saturday 9 November 2024 at the London Evolution in Battersea Park, London.


Nov 2024

09:30 AM - 02:30 PM
Taking place at The Intercontinental Hotel, Geneva the show provides families with unparalleled access to leading boarding schools. This November we return to this spectacular venue with 20 leading Boarding Schools.


Nov 2024

09:30 AM - 02:30 PM
Taking place at the Fairmont Monte Carlo, the show provides families with unparalleled access to leading boarding schools. This Thursday we return to this spectacular venue with 20 leading Boarding Schools.