The inscription on the front of the school at Buxton says that the school was endowed by John Wright in 1796. This refers to the banker John Wright of Esher and Dudwick who died in 1798. Margaret Sewell says (in her history of Buxton) that in 1830 , Mrs Tuckett gave 900 for the support of a school at Buxton for poor children, in conformity with the will of her first husband, John Wright of Esher and Dudwick.
In 1833 John Wright, cousin and heir of the banker, used part of this to erect 2 schoolrooms near the Church. The school was opened as a British i.e. Undenominational school. The remaining money was paid to trustees and used together with the school children's pence, for the support of the school. In 1845 the school was attended by 80 boys and 40 girls.

In 1855 a National or Church school was erected by the efforts of the Rev. Stracey & Rev F.Anson, Canon of Winchester. This stood in Back lane in the house which is now privately owned and called the Old School House. In 1882 the mixed British school and the Church school were united in one undenominational school under one body of managers. At their first meeting the Rev Stracey, the Chairman, insisted that the main school should be kept for the sole use of the boys, and the girls and infants should go to the Back lane school Margaret Sewell stood out against him insisting that the boys and girls should be kept together in the main school. By a vote of 3:2 Margaret Sewell won the day and after this the Church school in Back Lane was used as an infant school and the British school, next to the Church, as a mixed school.

In the same year 1882 the John Wright building was considerably enlarged and improved by Mr P.E.Sewell of Dudwick, nephew of John Wright and brother of Anna Sewell (Black Beauty). In 1901 he, with the other 2 trustees, added a covered playing shed. In 1903 the school was taken over by the Education Committee of the Norfolk County Council and conducted as a non-privileged school. In 1921 it became evident that the buildings must be bought up to date. The Trustees of the John Wright school did not have enough funds and therefore decided to hand over the building to the County Education Committee, but made it a condition that their endowment should be retained for the benefit of the school children. In 1922 therefore the school was practically rebuilt to accommodate 150 children, with an open air Infant room. The infants were transferred from the Church Building and the modern school was created.
The Pupils of Buxton School King George V Coronation. King George V Coronation. King George V Coronation.

As stated above this was erected in 1855 as a National school for boys, girls and infants in the Back Lane where the Old School House now stands. There is a tradition that the school replaced an older one which stood on ground now part of Birds Place Farm garden, and that this building was turned into a little shop. When the infants were transferred to the main school in 1882 the infant school building was let by the vicar to the Education Committee and used as a Technical class room. A woodwork centre was started and later domestic economy was taught to girls.

This is a potted History. The complete History of the Red House can be read
In 1852 John Wright of Dudwick, Buxton, had a meeting of Norfolk Magistrates and leading citizens in Norwich and it was agreed to form an establishment at Buxton "for the religious and industrial training of 40 offenders under the age of 20." This was to be an alternative to sending them to prison and largely financed by John Wright.
It had a stormy beginning with a mutiny in 1855 when the Governor was locked in a cupboard, but this led to the appointment of the first successful governor, Thomas Babington. His time capsule in a bottle was recently found by the present contractors (EDP March 1st 2002).
In 1871 Philip Sewell inherited the Red House from his uncle John Wright. Further buildings were added in the 1890's when Ted Sewell joined his father at Dudwick, including another dormitory, market garden and swimming pool in 1904. In 1899 Alfred Babington took over as governor from his father. By 1910 there were 90 boys in the school.
In 1927 Mr. & Mrs. Clements were appointed Head master & matron. In 1937 Ted Sewell died without a suitable family heir and he left the Red House and Dudwick to his tea planting friend Percy Briscoe.
During the 1950's the Home Office took over the school which was then run by a Board of Governors made up from the founding families. The Home Office spent money on improving the school.
In 1984 it was sold to a Danish company Tvind who operated under the name of Argyle House registered in Jersey. They owned the Red House as a charity from 1984-1998.
They introduced boys who were out of control from various English Councils. They charged 750 per week for each boy.
During their tenure there were riots, burglaries and arson, and in the end after investigations by the Charity Commission, the Education Authority and the police, their education licence was withdrawn in 1998 and the school closed.
Since then rumours have circulated that Tvind were involved in many financial irregularities, and their Danish head was arrested by the FBI in Los Angeles in Feb 2002, and 8 Belgian directors have been arrested in July 2002. The headmaster of their other school at Winstead Hall School, near Hull, described the schools as pure money making machines and says that Tvind may have made 50 million out of its tenure of the Red House. Tvind operates world wide and has businesses in many other countries.
The school has now been sold to Care Principles who have renamed it Rowan House and are redeveloping it to house patients with challenging psychological problems. They anticipate employing 300 staff and having up to 80 patients housed in secure units.
The money left with the original Red House Trustees after the sale of the school to Twind, and repaying the Home Office for the money they spent, has now been put into a Trust called the Red House Charitable Trust which finances holiday stays for disadvantaged young people of Norfolk.

As of September 30th 2002 Rowan House was opened for business.
Red House School Red House School

This is a potted History.
The complete History of the Red House can be read here

Message In A Bottle

The following Message was found in a bottle on site while building Rowan House.

The Red House
Buxton, Norfolk
Aug 27th 1896
I, Thomas Babington sen., By the goodness and mercy of God after being Govenor of the above institution for a period of 40 years deposit the following in a bottle in the angle being repaired with blue hard bricks by John Allen, bricklayer of Hevingham in the county of Norfolk.
The following gentlemen were the founders of the Buxton Reformatory;-
John Wright, Buxton
George Keith Brooke
John Hy Gurney, Catton
Sir Edward Buxton, Cromer
All now deceased
There successors were
William Watts Wickes (of the belt, Aylsham) now deceased and Philip Edward Sewell of Clare House, Catton with Mr Marsham, Rippon Hall ( now deceased)
Mr Sewell is at the present date ( with Mrs C.L.Buxton)
Major Thomas H. Babington jur.
Superintendent and Matron
L.Edwards Tailor and shoemaker
James Lusher Head Porter and Cook
John Chester Schoolmaster
Thomas Skipper Team man etc
Louisa Meredith assistant matron & housekeeper
May the above live long and be made a blessing to the boys
The old reformatory established in 1853 and certified in 1855 Was Managed by John Wright of Dudwick house
While I Thomas Babington and Elizabeth, my wife was Governor and Matron Which offices we held from the years 1855 to 1896 God has been good to us all these years. We have now retired but still live here. We are the only ones alive as all who were with us are now in eternity. God has been good to us. Bless his Holy name for ever and ever.