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About Northcote Lodge

In 1984 Katharine Mears (now Colquhoun) founded Broomwood Hall School in Broomwood Road, Clapham, the independent pre-preparatory school for boys and girls of which she is still the Principal. At that time the majority of boys' parents envisaged that they would go to boarding prep schools at 8, so that keeping boys after that age never formed a part of the plans for Broomwood Hall.


From the outset they determined that, while sharing the curriculum and approach of its sister school, Northcote Lodge should be very much its own school with its own feel, style and traditions. The school opened its doors in September 1993 under its first headmaster, Desmond Bain, with just 14 pupils and two teachers. Now into its third decade it has reached its full size of around 240 boys with 20 full time teachers under its fourth headmaster, Mark Smith, appointed in 2015.


Malcolm and Katharine Colquhoun remain the Principals of Northcote Lodge and take a close interest in what goes on there, shouldering the responsibility for the school's continued success and ensuring that it stays in line with their ideals. They have laid down its ethos and philosophy, which are identical to those of Broomwood Hall, and have taken care to appoint as headmaster only one whose attitude and approach exactly accord with their own. Their original vision has led in a very short time to Northcote Lodge being recognised as one London's foremost day preparatory schools for boys, sending its pupils to all the best-known public schools (see Leavers), and exemplifying all that is best in the prep school tradition whilst at the same time being both modern and forward looking.

Where did our motto come from?

In 1424 King James I of Scotland commanded Sir John Colquhoun, the Laird of Luss, Loch Lomond, to seize possession of the formidable and well-fortified Dumbarton Castle from the Earl of Lennox, who had become too powerful for the King's comfort.

Sir John replied to the King's command in French (the accepted universal language of the time) "Si Je Puis - I will if I can". He carefully laid his plans.

dumbarton castle


The Highland chieftain gathered a group of his men and, under cover of darkness, hid them in the woods outside the castle's gates. When morning came he set loose nearby a large stag which he had previously captured, chased by hunting dogs. The starving garrison in the castle saw the hunt and, unsuspecting, opened the gates to join in. The Chief's clansmen then stole into the castle, successfully securing it and returning it to the King, without a drop of blood being spilled on either side.


In gratitude, the king bestowed on the Chief of Colquhoun a coat of arms with a crest showing a stag's head and two deer-hounds as supporters, bearing the motto "Si Je Puis".


A true story? Who knows. But what is certain is that although that early chief could have had no idea that, many generations later, one of his descendants would found a school, he would have approved of its adoption of his motto - the essence of the spirit of Northcote Lodge.


26 Bolingbroke Grove, London, SW11 6EL Location Map