Cranleigh was founded in 1865 as a boys' school. Stephen Rowland had a major role in the development of Cranleigh School. He also formed the Cranleigh Gas Company in 1876, and arranged for a mains water supply in 1886. The Good Schools Guide described the school as a "Hugely popular school with loads on offer, improving academia and mega street cred. Ideal for the sporty, energetic, sociable, independent and lovely child." There can be few schools that are held in more affection than Cranleigh. From its earliest days as the ‘Surrey County School’ in the 1860s, Cranleigh has attracted remarkable loyalty from people living in the local area. It also has an overseas campus in Abu Dhabi.
The school's Trevor Abbott Sports Centre was opened by Sir Richard Branson and the West House was opened by Baroness Greenfield. New building projects include the recently completed extension onto Cubitt House as well as an environmentally friendly Woodland Workshop and a new £10 million Academic Centre named the Emms Center. This was opened by Lord Patten of Barnes. The building includes new high-tech facilities for Science and Modern Languages as well as a lecture theatre. A £2 million renovation of the chapel in 2009 included the installation of a £500,000 Maunder organ. Cranleigh has outstanding facilities for music (including two Steinway Grands and a small recording studio), sport, drama and academic enhancement.
Entry at 13+ is normally via Common Entrance or as an Academic Award holder, although separate provision is made for candidates not being prepared specifically for Common Entrance. Please note that Senior School admission lists are opened only two years before the proposed date of entry, enabling children and their families to make a much better informed decision. Prospective parents are, however, welcome to meet the Head and have a tour of the School at any time. For sixth form entry a limited number of places is available to boys and girls who are likely to achieve good results in their GCSE examinations.