Lancing College was founded in 1848 by the Revd Nathaniel Woodard, whose primary objective was charitable.
As curate of Shoreham-by-Sea, Woodard saw the poverty and hardship of the agricultural and seafaring workforce and the ignorance and ungodliness of the middle classes who could not afford a public school education.
Woodard founded 11 schools in his lifetime and there are now over 40. The first three, Lancing, Hurstpierpoint and Ardingly, all began life in the vicarage at Shoreham. They were intended to tackle social problems by providing “a good and complete education of sound principle and sound knowledge, firmly grounded in the Christian faith.”
Woodard was a true philanthropist with a missionary spirit who was also reacting against the revolutions which broke out all over Europe in the 1840s. He was an extremely effective fund-raiser, financing astonishing buildings and educational developments without public funds or endowments, by appealing to the good-will and social conscience of the rich and powerful of his day. Lancing has always depended upon the generosity of benefactors from all walks of life who have been inspired by what the Founder and his schools have achieved. Nobody could doubt the value of what Lancing now has to offer or the need to make it more accessible, as Woodard intended.
The Founder bought a 500 acre farm on the Downs in the parish of Lancing and his first school moved there in 1854. The Lower Quad, the Head’s and Second Master’s houses, the Dining Hall, Schoolroom and library, designed by RC Carpenter, were the beginning. All the boys (there were no girls or married resident staff) were boarders. It was an isolated, enclosed community, God-fearing and academically rigorous. Numbers grew steadily and from the 1870s onwards, under the long headship of Dr Sanderson (a founder member of HMC) the school became recognised nationally for the success of its pupils.
The foundations of the Chapel were laid in 1868 and building went on until 1911. At the same time the Upper Quad and Great School were developed and gradually more buildings and facilities were added. Woodard knew the importance of music and Lancing’s fine choral tradition goes back to Shoreham days. Drama has been strong since the 1970s, with literature and the classics always encouraged. The building of the (temporary!) science labs in 1910 established a pioneering Science Department and the Lancing curriculum has remained very broad. Lancing started playing football in the 1850s and helped to create the modern game. The famous cricket field was levelled in the 1890s and squash, fives, tennis and hockey soon followed. It was one of the first schools to have an indoor swimming pool (which is now the Theatre!).
The CCF was started in 1905 and there was great success in shooting, with a 500 yard range in the Ladywell valley, below what is now the pupils’ farm. Former Lancing pupils made a valiant contribution to the First World War, many of them losing their lives. In the Second World War the school was evacuated to the Teme valley in Shropshire and the naval training establishment HMS King Alfred occupied the College. Since the return there has been steady growth and development; coeducation beginning in 1970 and complete in 2000, increased opportunities and accommodation for day pupils, and unimaginable improvements to the boarding houses and pastoral care of pupils. Academic standards were raised in the 1950s and 70s and again in the past ten years.
The completion of the west wall and rose window in the chapel in 1978 ushered in a new phase of building and expansion: the swimming pool, the Theatre, the organs, the Design & Technology Centre, the new Library and the Astroturf. In 2008, the Reeve Art School was opened - a contemporary building providing vast studio space - bringing the Art Department under one roof.
In recent years, the College has acquired Mowden Preparatory School in Hove, now Lancing Prep Hove, and Broadwater Manor School, now Lancing Prep Worthing. These schools have strengthened the intake of local pupils and added a welcome new dimension to Lancing life. The Sussex Pad, situated at the bottom of the College drive, has also come back into the school's ownership, providing temporary boarding accommodation during refurbishment.
Lancing College is now flourishing; when pupils leave after their A Levels they are confident, responsible young men and women of vision and integrity who will be of service to their fellow human beings. They have benefited from excellent teaching and facilities, and a huge range of activities and opportunities. But the work never stops to ensure that this standard of education will be available to all for the future. New facilities are being created - and older ones are being modernised. At the same time the appeal for funds for bursaries continues, in the spirit of Woodard’s original vision and for the benefit of present and future generations of Lancing pupils.