Bennett Memorial Diocesan School was founded on 17th October 1951 by Lady Elena Bennett and Bishop Christopher Chavasse of Rochester. You can see the foundation stone laid by Lady Bennett at the end of the corridor outside the small hall. Lady Bennett’s picture hangs above the school office in the Mansion Building.
Lady Bennett donated the money for the school which was named after her husband, Sir Thomas Bennett, who had recently died. The school’s Royal Charter, which is now in the reception area, was granted, and Lady Bennett herself designed the school’s coat of arms. The badger was chosen by Lady Bennett, because her maiden name was Brooke-Jones (which reminded her of brock, a name for a badger). She also chose the school’s motto, Semper Tenax, because she believed the school would always hold on to the Christian values she had founded it to teach.
The school opened, originally for girls, in January 1953. In 1960 the foundation stone for the chapel was laid by Bishop Chavasse. This is still outside the main hall at the chapel end. In 1967 Lady Bennett died, and her coffin was placed in the chapel for the students to visit. The third headteacher was Ann Scott, after whom the Ann Scott Wing is named. In 1992 the school admitted its first boys. The guilds, or tutor groups, are all named after bishops of Rochester.
Every year at Founders’ Day we hand on the values of Bennett to the next generation and we thank God for the great gift of this school.
Bennett School Prayer
Heavenly Father, we give thanks to God for our founders, Bishop Christopher Chavasse and Lady Elena Bennett, for all who have taught and learned here, for all who needed encouragement and all who have supported them. We commend our School into your hands, we commit ourselves to seek your truth, to live in your way, and to serve your world. May the life and work of this community be to your praise and glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.