1980 ~ A contribution by R. W. Thomas February

A number of times during the past hundred years it has been suggested that a history of the School should be compiled but nothing has come of the idea. The impending 350th Anniversary seemed a good opportunity to publish such a history but today’s high printing costs have meant that only a condensed version can be produced. I am sure that everyone who reads it will find that reference to his own particular interest has been left out but far more material is available than could be included. I intend to collect and list all this material so that it can be kept at the School for future reference.
It is impossible to thank all those who have helped but there are some who have not been credited elsewhere in the book and must be mentioned by name.
Without the help of Evan Mortimore , former Headmaster and local historian, the task would have been impossible. The writings of the late Peter Woodworth have also proved to he indispensable. My special thanks are due to Robb Dunnett, a 6th Former of the School, who cheerfully kept redrawing the art-work for the cover (which is based on a painting of the founder by Cornelius Janssen in the K.C.C. Collection at Maidstone) to meet my whims. I am also grateful to Mr. C. Daynes, Head of the School’s Art Department, for constant advice on layout. The “Kentish Express” has generously provided pictures and given free access to their files. I have been unable to contact copyright holders for many of the other pictures but I take this opportunity to thank them now. Mr. L. Millar of the Ashford Heritage Centre has copied many old photographs for me.
Local historians, Mr. Arthur Ruderman and Dr. W. E. Church, have been very helpful, Ashford Library and the Kent County Archives have provided much material. I thank these and also all the parents, Old Ashfordians, teachers and boys who have assisted in so many ways.
There are many schools which are older than this one but there must be few who have kept such close links with the family of the Founder for 350th years. This will be obvious from the book but my last thanks must go the present Chairman of the Governors, the Rt. Hon. Lord Brabourne, a direct descendant of the Founder, for agreeing to write the Foreword to this book.
I hope that readers who follow the development of the Ashford Grammar School and its immediate successor, The Norton Knatchbull School, Ashford, Kent, will see that the ideals the first Sir Norton Knatchbull must have intended for his school are still present 350 years later in what is still undoubtedly `Sir Norton’s School’.