Our corner of the world is no longer quite the hidden gem it once was: the National Trust now looks after the Iron Age fort of Hambledon Hill; Hauser & Wirth have opened a gallery in Bruton, the well-known Cork Street gallery, Messum’s, has opened in nearby Tisbury to much acclaim and glossy magazines never stop extolling the virtues of the Cranborne Chase: “the new Cotswolds”, apparently.
So the beauty and allure of this area are not a secret but the place remains unspoilt by mass development and you have to go some distance to find the soul-destroying, thundering monotony of a motorway.
Yet our position is still very accessible. We are close to railways stations at Gillingham and Tisbury: hop on and you’re on a direct line to Waterloo or Exeter. The equally berated and celebrated A303, just north of Shaftesbury, will take you in both those directions by road. A short trip south leads to the fabulous coastline of Bournemouth, Poole Harbour, Sandbanks and Studland with the glory of the Jurassic Coast lying just to the south and west. Northwards are Bruton, Bristol and the Georgian treasures of Bath.
We are just on the edge of Iwerne Minster, a preposterously picturesque village half way between Blandford Forum and Shaftesbury; right on the cusp of the Dorset/Wiltshire border.
We have a 62-acre site with all the facilities you would expect from a well-established and much-cared-for independent school. At the centre of our campus is the Main House, a riot of Victorian Gothic architecture with the dubious honour of a Titanic connection, courtesy of its former owners, prior to 1933 when we came here. Although we’re much older than that. Clayesmore was born back in 1896: making us the same age as Puccini’s La Bohème, the modern Olympic Games and… Blackpool Pleasure Beach!
Clayesmore itself is a place of wonder, with the verdant backdrop of Hambledon, rising as it does from the wide valley floor of the Iwerne River, providing the most majestic of backdrops to our splendid haven of a school.