Humble Beginnings to World Class
Southwell School was founded on the vision of one man, Mr Cecil Ernest Ferris, who was born in 1877 in the York suburb of Clifton, Yorkshire England. In 1883 the Ferris family relocated to Nottingham when Cecil’s father, Reverend Thomas Ferris, was appointed as the rector at St Matthew’s Church in the city of Nottingham which is in the Diocese of Southwell (pronounced locally as Suthall). Little is known of Mr Ferris’ early life in England, however in the 1890’s it is recorded that he moved to Australia and joined the staff of the Church of England Grammar School (Churchie) in Brisbane. At the outbreak of the Boer War Mr Ferris enlisted in the NSW Lancers and fought in South Africa for a nine month period during which time he met New Zealand mounted riflemen. After the Boer War he returned to Australia, then decided in 1910 to move to New Zealand to start a new life. He was in Auckland for a short time then moved to Hamilton and was the Lay Reader for the Parish of St Peter’s. In his travels around the Parish Mr Ferris realised the need for a church school in Hamilton where boys could have a “fuller” education than that which was provided by the country schools. Encouraged by the Vicar, Mr Ferris announced he would start a private school for boys and call it Southwell School.