Our History


Shebbear College is an independent UK school, a co-educational day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3 to 18, located in rural North Devon.

Shebbear College began its life in 1829. A group calling itself the Bible Christians had been meeting near Lake Farm in the North Devon parish of Shebbear since October 1815, under the leadership of James Thorne, a local farmer. A Chapel had been built in 1817, and in 1829, Thorne’s two sons, John and Samuel began a Christian school for 20 boys called Prospect College, after the name of the house built to accommodate the school. The emblem ‘PC’ still remains engraved on the main gates to this day.

The school saw many changes until it was re-founded by the Bible Christian Church in 1841 as Shebbear College. Eventually the Bible Christians became part of the Methodist Church and today Shebbear College is one of a series of independent boarding schools that form part of the Methodist Church ‘s involvement in education.

The most influential headmaster of the College in the 19th century was undoubtedly Thomas Ruddle, who was at Shebbear from 1864 to his death in 1909. Born in 1839, Ruddle studied in London before embarking on an educational career which was to transform Shebbear to a centre for excellence which it still strives to be.

The present school still includes many original buildings and features, as well as buildings erected for the boarders – although life is much more comfortable than that enjoyed in the early days. The College has not only educated generations of children, but also for a time was a place of training for ministers and a teacher training college.

Shebbear College continues to offer a fine education for boys and girls aged 3-18. As well as impressive academic results, the college has a an excellent reputation for sports, art, drama and music and the pupils enjoy a rich programme of extra-curricular activities.

James and Catherine Thorne