Brean Down House School

This girls school was established in 1877, in two houses in Julia Terrace,  by the Misses Saunders and Dows (see arrow in picture at top of page – courtesy of Paul Wynn). They had moved their school (previously known as ‘The Mount’) near Newbury, Berks, together with  its existing pupils. In Burnham it taught  both day and boarding pupils. Fees in 1889 were 14 – 16 guineas per term, I gn extra for music.

Miss Fanny Dows. Image used by kind permission of Bob & June Thomas.

The following article and pictures are taken from the 1903 Mate’s Illustrated Burnham Guide of 1903.  It informs us that the school had recently had a new wing added and was now under the leadership of the Misses Dows and Ewens “assisted by an efficient staff of English and foreign mistresses”. 

Pupils are prepared for the University local and all other examinations. The study of music is especially encouraged and most satisfactory results have been obtained. In hockey this school now holds the Challenge Cup of the Girls’ School Athletic Association for Weston-Super-Mare and district”

Brean down House School . This article was taken from the Mate's Illustrated Guide of Burham published in 1903. The Guide was owned by


Burnham from this school014

In the photo Julia Tce is actually  the white building at centre left.

(The copy of this guide was previously owned by Mr L.A. Hawkings who  was the proprietor of Paradise Stores on the Berrow Road.)

The censuses of 1881 to 1911 show the school as being run by Fanny and Jane Dows (Fanny only by 1911). The Misses Dows were succeeded by the Misses Jones (Edith, Mary and Nora Frances).

St Margaret’s school school occupied  neighbouring property in Julia Terrace from 1910, under the Misses Coopers. This establishment later moved to Poplar Rd.

The school gym, date unknown.
Badge worn by Margaret Masters.

The following article appeared in the Western Daily Press and Bristol Mirror, 26th July 1934.

A number of items connnected with the school have been discovered in the Dupuis Diaries and are reproduced below.


School reports from 1897 on Rev. Dupuis’ daughters Juliet and Dora, signed by Fanny Dows:

School group, Miss Dows front row, centre. Date unknown.

6 thoughts on “Brean Down House School”

  1. I have just been doing some research on Burnham-on-Sea and also St Dunstan’s School at which I taught between 1976 and 1979. My wife continued to teach there also until the school was heading for closure. She then joined the staff of St Christopher’s School on the Berrow Rd. Anyway, the reason for my responding to this fascinating photo of Brean Down House School is that there is likely to be a link to St Dunstan’s. According to an interesting chapter written by David Bolland about the history of St Dunstan’s. It seems that the school was founded in 1897 and eventually moved to Grove Rd between 1908 and 1919. The picture from the school above seems to either have been taken from Grove Rd or even The Mount, which was a grand old house, now demolished, built in 1911. However, looking closely at the picture it would seem that you can see the Old Band Stand and not the Pavilion. This would suggest that the photo was taken pre 1911 as that is when the Pavilion was built. It is not clear when St Margarets was built but it looks as though its position is at the end Poplar Rd. The photo above would suggest that it was taken from a more distant situation than Poplar Rd and therefore probably Grove Rd. Perhaps you are able to clarify dates and positions?

    1. Hello Malcolm.
      Thank you for your comment which brings new information for us. I think the photo was taken from the Poplar Road area as the Mount was much farther north. The earliest I can date the bandstand, from postcard dates, is 1903. I need to check my records but I think St Margaret’s was actually on the dunes between Maddock Slade and Popular Road.
      I do have several magazines from St Christopher’s from the time your wife taught there and am willing to get you copies should you want ?
      Thanks again and as your comment applies to St Christopher’s page I wondered if you wished to post your memories of your time there on that page?
      Thanks again,

  2. My mother and her elder sister were boarded there sometime between 1918 and 1924/5. I understand it was a small “dame school” for girls and had the impression that there was more emphasis on being a young lady than academics, as was probably standard for the majority of middle class girls in that era. My mother left the school – and therefore any education – when she was 14.

    1. Hello Georgina,
      Thank you for posting this.
      Should you have any photos or further information and are willing to share it with us please feel free to do so. We have very little details of the workings of this school as it was just one of many fee paying educational places in Burnham around the times you state.

  3. How amazing to find this. I find a tiny intruiging note in my father’s papers saying his mother was educated at Brean Down. But that would have been been sometime after 1905 when she would have been 14. Possibly also her younger sister.

    1. Thank you Mary for this information. I am hoping to have more information about this school building and pupils soon and will post it here then.
      It is lovely to have your snippet of information. It is much appreciated.

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