In September 1951, Edward Paget, Bishop of Southern Rhodesia, wrote to the Rector of Michaelhouse in Natal, offering him the headship of a school that did not exist. Six months later, Fred Snell started working with Canon Robert Grinham and the Ruzawi School Board toward the creation of an independent senior school.
Peterhouse opened in 1955 under the rectorship of Fred Snell with 55 boys and within five years the number had risen to 360 according to plan. Peterhouse was founded as an Anglican boys’ country boarding school. Its aims were to promote the ideals of Christian manhood, academic excellence and social responsibility.
When the school opened in 1955, the major building programme had been completed; the Chapel, a magnificent structure at the spiritual and physical heart of the school, had been dedicated; the staff were accommodated in attractive houses around the grounds; and the grounds themselves had been developed, with the playing fields spreading across the slope below the school, and beyond them, plantations of gum and pine.
Fred Snell’s outstanding contribution to Peterhouse, and to the country it served, was to light a beacon on the path that education should follow. A man of courage and imagination, he received moral support from all with high ideals, and financial support from the great business houses. It was during his rectorship that the first black pupils joined the school.
Bruce Fieldsend, who joined Peterhouse at the beginning, succeeded Fred Snell as Rector in 1968. Under Bruce Fieldsend, Peterhouse continued to flourish and in 1976, the school had an enrolment of 389 pupils – the highest it had ever been. But four years earlier, political and military events had begun to cast a shadow over the land and that chilly shadow first touched Peterhouse in 1976. The numbers began to drop and by the beginning of 1980, Peterhouse was barely half full.
After Independence, the school began to grow again, and in 1984 Bruce Fieldsend was succeeded by the Reverend Doctor Alan Megahey.
Alan Megahey was a man of great vision and under his rectorship not only did the boys’ school grow to over 500 pupils, but in 1985, Springvale House, a preparatory school for boys and girls, was opened and in 1987 Peterhouse Girls’ School started. These two schools are both situated on the site of the old Springvale School which had closed during the war and which was on the other side of the main Harare / Mutare road from the boys’ school. The three schools now occupy a site of some 3 000 acres of which 700 acres are taken up with Gosho Park, Peterhouse’s own conservation area and Game Park.
In 1994, Mike Bawden succeeded Alan Megahey as Rector and he saw the next few years as a time of consolidation and improvement rather than expansion. Over the previous fifteen years, one school with 200 pupils had expanded into three schools with over 1000 pupils.
In 2002, Jon Calderwood was appointed Rector after Mike Bawden returned to England. Jon was Head of Springvale House from 1985 to 1993 and Head of Peterhouse Girls from 1994 to 2001, and so brought a wealth of experience to the post of Rector.
After steering the Group of Schools through the difficult years of hyperinflation and leaving a legacy of his own Jon retired as Rector after eleven years at the end of 2012.
In 2013, Mr Howard Blackett, formerly Headmaster of the Royal Hospital School of Ipswich was appointed Rector.
In 2022, Mr Jon Trafford, former Headmaster of Kingswood College was appointed as Rector after Howard Blackett returned to retire in England.