The head of Epsom College has been found dead along with her husband and young daughter.
The bodies of headmistress Emma Pattison, 45, husband George, 39, and seven-year-old Lettie were discovered at a property on the grounds of the school in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Mrs Pattison has been described as a “wonderful teacher” and a “delightful person” who had a “distinguished career”.
Epsom College is the current Independent School of the Year, according to its website – with fees of more than £42,000 a year for boarding pupils.
More than 850 boys and girls attend the school, which was founded in 1853, and its acting head has been listed as Paul Williams.
Surrey Police were contacted by the South East Coast Ambulance Service and officers arrived at the location at around 1.10am.
A police investigation is being carried out to establish the circumstances of their deaths.
Officers have said they are confident that it was an isolated incident with no third-party involvement and the family’s next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.
Read more: Who was Emma Pattison?
In a post on Twitter, Epsom College said it was “shocking and tragic news” and its community would be coming together today “to grieve and pay our respects to a wonderful Head”.
The college added: “We will be in close contact with Surrey Police over the coming weeks and months.
“We hope everyone will respect the privacy of Emma’s family at this time and allow the College’s pupils, staff and wider community the time and space necessary to come to terms with this loss.”
Mrs Pattison became Epsom’s first female head in September 2022 after six years as headteacher of Croydon High School in south London.
Epsom College won the top prize at the Independent Schools of the Year Awards last year, with judges calling it a “beacon of excellence”.
The school was also named the winner of the Student Wellbeing Award at the October ceremony thanks to its “whole-school approach to mental health and the wellbeing of both its staff and pupils”.
Dr Alastair Wells, chair of the college’s board of governors, said: “On behalf of everyone at Epsom College, I want to convey our utter shock and disbelief at this tragic news.
“Our immediate thoughts and condolences are with Emma’s family, friends and loved ones, and to the many pupils and colleagues whose lives she enriched throughout her distinguished career.
“Emma was a wonderful teacher, but most of all she was a delightful person. In time we will commemorate Emma and her family, in the appropriate way, and in line with the wishes of her family.
“But for now, we ask that we are all given the time, space and respect we need to come to terms with this tragic loss.”
Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey said: “On behalf of Surrey Police, my team, and I, I first want to express my sincerest condolences to the friends and family of Emma, Lettie and George, as well as to the students and staff of Epsom College, for their tragic loss.
“I want to give my assurance that we will conduct a thorough investigation into what took place last night, and hope to be able to bring some peace in these traumatic circumstances. I would ask that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”
Inspector Jon Vale, Epsom and Ewell’s borough commander, said: “We’re aware that this tragic incident will have caused concern and upset in the local community.
“While this is believed to be an isolated incident, in the coming days, our local officers will remain in the area to offer reassurance to students, parents, teachers, and the local community.
“I would like to thank the school and the community for their understanding and patience while the investigation continues.”
The three deaths have been reported to the coroner.