Shiplake Court officially opened as a boarding school on 1 May 1959. Alexander Everett was the first Headmaster. Mrs Eunice Everett (later Richardson) was Founder.
Although Everett struggled with the practicalities of starting a school, he had memories of his own unhappy schooldays and a clear vision:
"I wanted to found a school that catered for everybody, a place where everybody will be happy. I wanted to create a system where everybody will have the opportunity to succeed."
Choice was to replace compulsion, there were to be no bells, few rules, staff and boys would mix freely and share common rooms.
Indeed, ahead of the school opening, Mr Everett and the school's Senior Tutor to-be, Mr George Spencer Brown, were interviewed for an article in The Daily Mail published on 17 March 1959. The article notes that "we are seeing a flowering of independent schools, just at a time when they are being attacked as 'outmoded'... most of them seem to be trying to do something a little more progressive and advanced than the conventional public schools."
Referring to Mr Everett's vision to open a senior school the article goes on: "After three years' search, he found 'the perfect setting,' a Tudor-style mansion built in 1890 on a hill overlooking the Thames. It has its own boat-house ("Our ambition is to have an eight in the Henley Regatta"), a church in its grounds and its own private island."
The article goes on to talk about the vision of the two masters and how 'One particular feature of Shiplake Court is that each boy will have a tutor, who will always be bound by strictest etiquette to support the boy if he is in trouble and speak in his defence. "All too often, Mr Brown explained, "a boy may feel quite suddenly that he has no one to turn to."'
Initial fees were 100 guineas a term (roughly £100). There were 30 boys in the first term however Everett had underestimated demand, "we actually had 36 applications but I had ordered just 30 beds".
Photographs from a 1959 dormitory are recognisable as the meeting room on the ground floor of Skipwith House, known today as the Morning Room.