Swanbourne House Case Study

Science lab Swanbourne House School

Established in 1920, Swanbourne House is an independent, co-educational preparatory boarding and day school for children aged three to thirteen years of age, located on a site of 55 acres in Buckinghamshire.

Witley Jones have worked with Swanbourne House over a number of years on a variety of projects. In 2013 Witley Jones won a contract to provide bespoke pews as part of the first of a number of refurbishment projects planned at the school.  The working relationship continued to grow since with the installation of storage furniture and lockers as well as boarding bedroom furniture in the main school building.

Following open tender, Witley Jones were contacted by the school to provide a wide range of furniture to support the refurbishment of the Fremantle Building, Science and Technology, and the Walker Building, Languages and Computing. Two complete bespoke science laboratories, an art room, a DT room and two computing suites were delivered in addition to a significant amount of loose furniture over the summer 2017.

IT classroom furniture at Swanbourne House

Throughout these projects a close and productive relationship was established with the Business Manager, Paul Jochimsen, the architects and the main contractor to design furniture to the client’s requirement to create a safe and innovative learning environment.

At the outset, the client was keen to see other classrooms and to be able to talk to colleagues in other schools about design and function for the furniture.  Witley Jones arranged for the Headmaster and Business Manager to visit Prior’s Field School who had recently completed a science lab project in their Arnold Building.

At each stage of the design process the Business Manager sought teacher input to mature the final requirement.  This required proactive and agile delivery by the Witley Jones design team who supported the client closely at every step along the design journey. As a consequence each room was tailored to meet the needs of the teachers to enable them to deliver coherent teaching and learning.

Science lab design

The design of the science labs was based on the client’s review of many other schools to mature the requirement and to ask for a lab that had two separate functions in the single room – a theory space and a practical space that was also seamlessly linked to the preparation room.

Witley Jones, for the practical science benches, supplied all taps, sinks, gas taps and electrical pedestal boxes, working alongside the M+E contractors for their integration in the furniture.

For the theory part of the classroom close liaison was maintained with the school’s in-house IT department to ensure all of the IT equipment that was to be fitted was considered during the design and build stage – an example is the mounting of an 80kg CleaverTouch smart TV within he teaching walls being supplied, not only to allow sufficient cabling but also to ensure the structure was robust enough to take the weight.

Swanbourne House School classroom furniture

In order to ensure this furniture was as hard wearing as possible it was specified that the doors of the furniture supplied to be upgraded to Laminate faced MDF rather than the Melamine Faced MDF used for the carcases. We were able to source a laminate to match the melamine used for the carcases. The science bench worktops were specified for Trespa which was recommended by Witley Jones.

Paul Jochimsen, Business Manager at Swanbourne House commented on the personal and close interaction with Matt Jones:

“His knowledge and leadership of the design team have been key to us over the past 8 months for our latest build projects and  without which we would not have achieved such a satisfactory result.  Also and as part of our due diligence prior to letting the contract it was very pleasing to note other customers comments about Witley Jones and the warmth with which they spoke about the Company.  This was a key ingredient in deciding to place the contract with Whitley Jones.

The work last summer has taken the school forward significantly and we are very proud of the new facilities which place us at the cutting edge in education.  We look forward to continuing to work closely with Witley Jones as the refurbishment programme continues.  As a result I am more than happy to strongly recommend Witley Jones to others. ”

Witley Jones assist Prior’s Field School their Largest Capital Project

Prior’s Field School is a vibrant and successful independent girls boarding and day school, set in 42 acres of stunning Surrey countryside located just south of Guildford.  It is a place where individuality is celebrated and uniqueness embraced, a happy positive place where 450 pupils, aged 11 to 18 enjoy learning.

Science laboratory in Prior's Field School Arnold Building

Witley Jones have worked with the school for a number of years, on a variety of projects, from small single classroom refurbishments to the construction of the Arnold Building, their largest capital project in the School’s history.

“Witley Jones’ attention to detail is exemplary, with the same level of focus going into each project, regardless of size.” commented Leonie Ranson, Bursar at Prior’s Field School.

The Arnold Building comprises eight state of the art Science laboratories, a Music School (including an eighty seater recital room with adjacent recording studio), a Food Technology Suite and several general classrooms.

The initial design intent for the project was driven by the School and their architect NBW Architects. We were tasked with manufacturing and installing furniture throughout the Arnold Building.

During the design and manufacture of the furniture for the Science labs, a key design feature was to ensure that the lab furniture was compliant with CLEAPPS, an educational industry standard adopted to ensure that laboratories are a safe and effective learning environment.

The designs for the laboratory furniture were achieved after extensive consultation with the school’s teaching staff and involved double sided fixed student desks with a theory side facing the front of the classroom and a practical side complete with integrated storage for apparatus. The labs in the building were quite wide and to ensure that all students had a good view of the teacher, demonstration benches and interactive smartboard the desks were angled at each end.

A secondary design consideration was the School’s requirement to maximize the availability of suitable storage space requiring us to take a more considered approach to layout and furniture specifications; in many cases a bespoke solution was required.

The project was carried out in 2 phases, which was managed by the main contractor W. Stirland and the School. The first phase and larger section of construction, was carried out whilst the school continued to use their existing Science labs for lessons. The school then occupied the new part of the building whilst the original structure was extensively remodelled.

“Communication from Witley Jones was excellent throughout all stages of the project, from the initial discussion around design, through to installation and aftercare.”

“All projects face difficulties, but Witley Jones communicated and dealt with every issue or question immediately. We are delighted that the furniture provided by Witley Jones was manufactured to perfectly meet our specifications and finite requirements resulting in a truly bespoke final product.” Leonie Ranson, Bursar at Prior’s Field School.

Culford School Case Study

Culford School is a coeducational independent school situated near to Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Culford provides both day and boarding education to over 670 pupils aged between 1 and 18, set in 480 acres of parkland with exemplary sporting facilities.

Culford School

The school were looking to increase in number of girl boarders at Culford and to integrate day pupils into boarding houses.

We were asked by the school to provide assistance with designing the boarding furniture for Old Fitzgerald House.

Witley Jones have been working with Culford since 2003, therefore we have built up a great working relationship with the school which has allowed us to understand their requirements and how they like to work. This demonstrated on projects when we have designed the furniture for their boarding houses and their on site team have fitted the furniture.

In terms of design, we have worked with the school to make the design simple and efficient to make it easier to replicate through the boarding houses.

In some instances, rooms are an identical design with a double room with an alcove on one side of the door for the wardrobes and an alcove on the opposite side for the vanity unit.

boarding school bedroom furniture

We decided with the school to build these units in plain MDF whereas they would usually be Oak Veneered MDF. Only the doors and filler panels were made from Oak Veneer so from the front they look like a nice built in oak veneered units but inside they are plain mdf to save cost.

We also use a specific Laminate worktop with Oak hardwood nosing to give their range of furniture a bespoke feel to their design.

“Witley Jones Furniture were friendly and accommodating throughout the process providing with knowledgeable insight into the design to ensure that the project met our exact requirements and budget.” commented Gavin Reynolds, Assistant Head (Pastoral).

boarding house furniture


Woldingham School Case Study

Woldingham School is a Catholic boarding and day school for girls, founded 1842 and set in 700- acre estate on the Surrey Downs.

We have been working with the school for over 5 years completing major works in boarding houses, classrooms, the main dining hall as well as specialist study rooms.

Witley Jones have recently worked on three projects at the school including; the Berwick Lower Sixth Boarding House , East Wing staff accommodation and West Wing ICT projects.


Berwick Boarding HouseBerwick Boarding House Woldingham School

The accommodation for Berwick Lower Sixth Boarding House was part of a 3-year refurb plan to completely upgrade the rooms, as the building is 25 years old.  

Berwick was a departure from normal school specification, the school wanted a more modern clean look to the furniture.

The challenge was to replace some old high beds with integral desks with low beds but to still give the girls plenty of study and storage space.

We delivered a sample room for the staff and girls to appraise, from this the final design was agreed to ensure all requirements were met.

The room planning was critical as some rooms have awkward eaves and window details along with existing boxing for pipes which had to be taken into account when manufacturing the furniture.


East Wing Gap Year Staff Accommodation

The East wing project was a major upgrade for gap year staff accommodation as the space was in need of major improvement.

As the girls in this room are older, we altered the layouts to reflect a more adult look and changed the bed specification to a divan bed with storage, total 4 rooms.


West Wing ICT SuiteWoldingham School West Wing ICT Suite

Working with the IT team, we designed a specific layout and manufactured to school pantone colour reference.

The design incorporated cable management and tower box storage and protection to ensure that the suite was neat and tidy as well as meeting health and safety requirements.

The whole scheme was a trial to update other existing ICT suites in the school and has proved a great success with staff and pupils alike.

Woldingham School West Wing ICT Suite

“Witley Jones has proved to be an excellent supplier for Woldingham School. They deliver on time, in budget and can cope with some bursarial ‘fast balls’.

Witley Jones take a keen and detailed  interest in the overall projects, can work easily with other building contractors and the after service, if needed, is excellent.

You do what you say you will do and we have had many years of repeat orders.” commented Niall Campbell, Bursar, Woldingham School

Swanbourne House School

Witley Jones Emailer May

Witley Jones were asked to manufacture modern chapel pews for the newly refurbished Swanbourne House Chapel. Although this project was different to our normal production, we relished the opportunity to take on the challenge.
This just reinforces our motto that Anything is Possible!

See more examples of Seating Furniture

Project Update: Habberley Campus


Witley Jones starts work on 12 laboratories at Habberley Campus Witley Jones have been appointed by main contractor Speller Metcalfe to manufacture and install a range of Laboratory furniture at the new Habberley learning campus in Kidderminster.Working closely with the Worcestershire County Council architects team, room layouts have been carefully designed to offer maximum flexibility, using a mixture of laminated and solid surface panels. More details and images to follow.

See more examples of Classroom Furniture

Marlborough College


Having already completed 4 boarding houses at Marlborough, Witley Jones Furniture are looking forward to another busy summer at the College. Working in conjunction with a team of architects and main contractors, last year saw an ambitious programme of 130 bed spaces as well as ancillary moms and soft furnishings all designed, delivered and installed on time and to agreed budgets.

See more examples of Boarding Furniture