The Royal Masonic School for Boys was an independent school for boys in England.
From 1798 charities were set up for clothing and educating sons of needy Freemasons. They originally provided education by sending them to schools near to their homes. A specific masonic boys’ school was set up at Wood Green in North London in 1857 following amalgamation of the charities in 1852.
A new school was built in Bushey, Hertfordshire in 1903 and a Junior School was added on the other side of The Avenue in 1929. By 1939 there were 800 boys at the school.Following a decline in pupil numbers the junior school closed in 1970; the site is now occupied by Bushey Academy. Numbers continued to fall, and the senior school closed in 1977. For a time, the buildings housed the United States International University (Europe). Both schools were commonly used for films (such as Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Lucky Jim (twice), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and numerous TV shows) from the 1950s until recently. They have now been redeveloped as luxury housing.
For years people living near the former 100-room convent in a quiet village have wondered what goes on behind the walls of the strange, Gothic building that was falling into disrepair.
Since 1992 it has been owned by a Muslim charity which in 2003 turned part of the building into an independent Muslim school for boys, the Jameah Islameah School that did little to integrate itself with the villagers.
A report by Ofsted inspectors sheds little light on the Jameah Islameah School, which is set within 54 acres of countryside. They found it had only nine pupils.
In 2003 or 2004 the school was allegedly used for an Islamic themed camping trip, at which hate preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed lectured.
Bakri would later claim the activities at the camp included lectures on Islam, football, and paintballing.
In September 2006 up to 100 anti-terror cops raided the school’s buildings and grounds. After arrests many cars were left behind in the grounds and the school was left abandoned.
Sussex Police held a cordon around the site for 24 days in an operation that cost more than one million pounds.
In 2007 a court heard that terror camp leader Atilla Ahmet sang a song with the lyrics “come Mr Taliban, come and bomb England” to pupils.
It was said that students sang the lyrics, which continued “before the daylight come, you wanna see 10 Downing Street done, Hey Mr Taliban, boom, boom, boom. Come bomb England. Allah willing, it will be done” with Ahmet to the tune of The Banana Boat Song.
In 2008 Ahmet was jailed for six years and 11 months after pleading guilty to three charges of soliciting to murder.
Buried in the pages of testimonies given by al-Qaeda suspects held at Guantanamo Bay are references to terror training camps held within the Jameah Islameah School’s grounds.
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Lillesden School for Girls occupies what used to be the Lillesden Estate Mansion, built at the estate (south of Hawkhurst) by the banker Edward Loyd, who co-founded the Loyd Entwistle & Co bank, which later became the District Bank and ultimately the National Westminster (Natwest). Loyd had Lillesden Mansion built after he married Caroline Louisa Foster on the 12th March 1846 at Ashton-on-Mersey. He bought the Lillesden estate at Hawkhurst, Kent in 1853 and built the mansion, finished in 1855.