Clifton College
Clifton College is a co-educational independent school
Independent school
An independent school is a school that is independent in its finances and governance; it is not dependent upon national or local government for financing its operations, nor reliant on taxpayer contributions, and is instead funded by a combination of tuition charges, gifts, and in some cases the...

 in Clifton, Bristol
Clifton, Bristol
Clifton is a suburb of the City of Bristol in England, and the name of both one of the city's thirty-five council wards. The Clifton ward also includes the areas of Cliftonwood and Hotwells...

, England, founded in 1862. In its early years it was notable (compared with most Public Schools
Public School (UK)
A public school, in common British usage, is a school that is neither administered nor financed by the state or from taxpayer contributions, and is instead funded by a combination of endowments, tuition fees and charitable contributions, usually existing as a non profit-making charitable trust...

 of the time) for emphasising science in the curriculum, and for being less concerned with social elitism, e.g. by admitting day-boys
Day pupil
Day pupils are students who attend boarding school but who are not boarders and who travel between home and school every day...

 on equal terms and providing a dedicated boarding house for Jewish boys. Having linked its General Studies
General Studies
General Studies may refer to:* Bachelor of General Studies, a degree offered in some Western Universities* A GCSE and A-level examination offered to 16-18 year olds in the United Kingdom and some other countries...

 classes with Badminton School
Badminton School
Miriam Badock established a school for girls in 1858 at Badminton House in Clifton. By 1898 it had become known as Miss Bartlett's School for Young Ladies....

 since 1972, it admitted girls to the Sixth Form in 1987 and is now fully coeducational
Mixed-sex education, also known as coeducation or co-education, is the integrated education of male and female persons in the same institution. It is the opposite of single-sex education...

. The dedicated Jewish boarding house closed in 2005. Clifton is one of the original 26 English public schools as defined by the Public Schools Yearbook of 1889.


The school takes boys and girls aged between 13 and 18. It has a nearby preparatory school
Preparatory school (UK)
In English language usage in the former British Empire, the present-day Commonwealth, a preparatory school is an independent school preparing children up to the age of eleven or thirteen for entry into fee-paying, secondary independent schools, some of which are known as public schools...

, Clifton College Preparatory School (known as the 'Pre'), for children from 8 to 13 which is nearby and shares many of the same facilities; also a pre-preparatory school for younger children aged 3 to 8 called Butcombe. To distinguish it from the junior schools, Clifton College proper is sometimes referred to as the 'Upper School'.

There are around 720 children in the Upper School of which about a third are girls. At the start of the 2004 - 2005 school year, a new boarding/day house for girls was opened.

In 2005, the school was one of fifty of the country's leading private schools which were found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel, exposed by The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

, which had allowed them to drive up fees for thousands of parents. Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £10,000 and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling three million pounds into a trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period in respect of which fee information was shared.


The Upper School boys' houses
House system
The house system is a traditional feature of British schools, and schools in the Commonwealth. Historically, it was associated with established public schools, where a 'house' refers to a boarding house or dormitory of a boarding school...

  • School House (boarding)
  • Moberly's House (boarding)
  • Wiseman's House (boarding)
  • Watson's House (boarding)
  • East Town (day)
  • South Town (day)
  • North Town (day)

The girls' houses are:
  • Worcester House (boarding)
  • Oakeley's House (boarding)
  • West Town (day)
  • Hallward's House (predominantly boarding with some day)

Before 1987, Clifton was a boys-only school with seven boarding houses (School House, Brown's, Watson's, Dakyn's, Oakeley's, Wiseman's, Polack's) and three day houses (East Town, North Town and The South Town). Polack's House, which took Jewish boys only, was closed in 2005. It is traditional that day-pupil only houses are known as "Towns" and any house that admits boarders "Houses".

The prefix "The" to The South Town originates from the first boys' day house: "The Town". When attendance became too large, the decision was made to split the house into two new ones: "South Town" and "North Town". To decide which house would remain in the building a football match was played; as South Town won the game, they stayed in the original building and kept the prefix "The".

The first school buildings

The college buildings were designed by the architect Charles Hansom
Charles Francis Hansom
Charles Francis Hansom was a prominent Roman Catholic Victorian architect who primarily designed in the Gothic Revival style.-Career:...

 (the brother of Joseph Hansom
Joseph Hansom
Joseph Aloysius Hansom was a prolific English architect working principally in the Gothic Revival style, who invented the Hansom cab and was one of the founders of the eminent architectural journal, The Builder, in 1843....

); his first design was for Big School and a proposed dining hall. Only the former was built and a small extra short wing was added in 1866 – this is what now contains the Marshal’s office and the new staircase into Big School. It has been designated by English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

 as a grade II listed building.

Hansom was called back in the 1870s and asked to design what is now the Percival Library and the open-cloister classrooms. This project was largely completed by 1875 – although the Wilson Tower was not built until 1890 (grade II listed).
Other buildings were added as follows:
  • By 1875, Brown’s, Dakyns’ and Oakley’s had been opened along with what is now 32 College Road – originally this functioned as accommodation for bachelor masters
  • Three fives courts (1864)
  • The original sanitorium (1865)
  • Gymnasium (1867)
  • Two swimming pools (1869)
  • An open rackets court (1872)
  • The present workshop (1873)
  • The Chapel (1867); this was built to Charles Hansom’s original design, but was moved from the intended site (which is now the gym). As built, the Chapel was a narrow aisleless
    Aisleless church
    An Aisleless church is a single-nave church building that consists of a single hall-like room. While similar to the hall church, the aisleless church lacks aisles or passageways either side of the nave separated from the nave by colonnades or arcades, a row of pillars or columns...

     building, and just the width of its present west end. It was the gift of Mrs Guthrie, the widow of Canon Guthrie. Hansom was given permission “to quarry sufficient stone from the college grounds for the purposes of the Chapel building”.

The Chapel building was licensed by the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol in 1867. It is now grade II* listed.

The school’s present buildings have evolved in four phases:
  • The early Percival years, when the nucleus of the school buildings was laid down.
  • The 1880s. In 1880, the school’s East Wing was completed as far as the staircase (this had yet to be linked to the library by the Wilson Tower) and added a science lecture-room (which is the reason for the curious 'stepped' windows), a laboratory and several classrooms.

In 1886, a porters' lodge and what is now the staff common room were added by enlarging what had been the original science school. On the ground floor was the school tuck-shop and above this (in what is now the Upper Common Room) was a drawing-school. The day boys were provided for in Town Rooms for both North and South Town. The East Wing was then completed by carrying it beyond the staircase and then creating an additional classroom at each end. The ground-floor classroom (then Room 12) is now known as the "Newbolt Room" and has been furnished by the Old Cliftonian Society, which still uses it for reunions.
Between 1890 and the start of the First World War, the new Music School (1897) was added and the Chapel rebuilt (1910).
  • The 1920s. Dr John King, whose headmastership spanned the war years, had little scope for building after 1914, but he did oversee the development of the playing fields at Beggar's Bush, the building of the Memorial Arch, the neo-classical cricket pavilion and the opening of the new Sanitorium in Worcester Road.

On 3 December 1918, the former headmaster John Percival died and was buried in the vault of the school Chapel. In 1921, a special memorial chapel was created and consecrated about his tomb.

Norman Whatley was the headmaster between 1923 and 1938; his tenure saw the building of the Science School (on the site of the previous Junior School) and the opening of the Preparatory School. Also at this time, the school acquired Hugh Easton's new east windows. The windows also contain a curiosity: beneath the representation of the heavenly Jerusalem is depicted a game of cricket on the Close - with one of Whatley's sons taking part!

In 1965-1967, the theatre was built by the architects Whicheloe and MacFarlane.

  • The 1980s. In 1982, on the site of the old swimming pools, the new Sports Hall, remedial gym and a new covered swimming pool were built – something that would have been appreciated by the generations of boys forced to use the old outdoor Victorian pool and its outdoor covered changing cubicles.

The 1980s also saw the building of the Coulson Centre which links together two previously separate classroom blocks, at Muir and Birdwood houses. As a result of the improvements in modern medicine, the Sanitorium in Worcester Road was unnecessarily large for the school's needs, and so the old pre-1921 Sanatorium on the Close has been refitted to serve this purpose, whilst the Worcester Road sanitorium has been refitted as the Headmaster’s house.

Memorial arch

At the side of College Road, opposite what was Dakyns' boarding house (now East Town and North Town), is the college's memorial arch designed by Charles Holden
Charles Holden
Charles Henry Holden, Litt. D., FRIBA, MRTPI, RDI was a Bolton-born English architect best known for designing many London Underground stations during the 1920s and 1930s, for Bristol Central Library, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London's headquarters at 55 Broadway and for the...

, which commemorates teachers and pupils who died in the two World Wars. Traditionally, the removal of headgear is expected when walking through the arch. There is also a school rule that states hands must be out of pockets when walking through the arch. It is now grade II listed. The college's buildings, mainly School House, were used as the main HQ where the D-Day landings were devised and planned. The college played a major part in both World Wars; Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig
Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE, ADC, was a British senior officer during World War I. He commanded the British Expeditionary Force from 1915 to the end of the War...

 was an Old Cliftonian who went on to command the British armed forces in the First World War. Through the memorial arch and in front of School House is a life-size statue of Haig. At the edge of the quad is a memorial to those killed in the South African Wars.

Cricket pitches

On one of the college's cricket pitches, now known as Collins' Piece, the highest-ever cricket
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...

 score was reached in June 1899, in the School House match between Clark's House v North Town. In this match A. E. J. Collins
A. E. J. Collins
Arthur Edward Jeune "James" Collins , typically now known by his initials A. E. J. Collins, was an English cricketer and soldier. He is most famous for achieving the highest-ever recorded score in cricket: as a 13-year-old schoolboy, he scored 628 not out over four afternoons in June 1899...

, killed in the First World War, scored 628 not out, but not under the current rules of the game. He was not the first Clifton schoolboy to hold this record: in 1868, Edward Tylecote
Edward Tylecote
Edward Ferdinando Sutton Tylecote - cricketer....

, who went on to help England
English cricket team
The England and Wales cricket team is a cricket team which represents England and Wales. Until 1992 it also represented Scotland. Since 1 January 1997 it has been governed by the England and Wales Cricket Board , having been previously governed by Marylebone Cricket Club from 1903 until the end...

 reclaim the Ashes
The Ashes
The Ashes is a Test cricket series played between England and Australia. It is one of the most celebrated rivalries in international cricket and dates back to 1882. It is currently played biennially, alternately in the United Kingdom and Australia. Cricket being a summer sport, and the venues...

 in 1882/3, was a previous holder, with 404 not out in a game between Classicals and Moderns. Collins' achievement is commemorated on a small plaque on the side of the ceramics building.

Sporting facilities

The college sporting facilities include: of local playing fields including the Close and College fields
  • Close Pavilion
  • Seven on-campus tennis
    Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

  • On-campus cricket
    Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...

     nets of playing fields at Clifton College Sports Ground (Begger's Bush Lane) which includes:
    • One 3G Football pitch
    • Two Astroturf hockey
      Hockey is a family of sports in which two teams play against each other by trying to maneuver a ball or a puck into the opponent's goal using a hockey stick.-Etymology:...

    • Twenty four tennis courts (including some under cover of the dome or 'bubble'
    • Real tennis
      Real tennis
      Real tennis – one of several games sometimes called "the sport of kings" – is the original indoor racquet sport from which the modern game of lawn tennis , is descended...

    • New pavilion
  • Gym
    The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, that mean a locality for both physical and intellectual education of young men...

  • Indoor heated swimming pool
    Swimming pool
    A swimming pool, swimming bath, wading pool, or simply a pool, is a container filled with water intended for swimming or water-based recreation. There are many standard sizes; the largest is the Olympic-size swimming pool...

  • Two indoor gyms
  • Rackets court
  • Four Fives
    Fives is a British sport believed to derive from the same origins as many racquet sports. In fives, a ball is propelled against the walls of a special court using gloved or bare hands as though they were a racquet.-Background:...


The Close

The college ground, known as the Close, played an important role in the history of cricket and witnessed 13 of W G Grace's first-class hundreds for Gloucestershire in the County Championship. Grace's children attended the college.

The Close featured in the poem by O.C. Sir Henry Newbolt - Vitaї Lampada
There's a breathless hush on the Close to-night
Ten to make and the match to win
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play, and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat.
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red -
Red with the wreck of the square that broke
The gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.

The river of death has brimmed its banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks -
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind -
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

The Marshal

The college employs a master called "The Marshal", whose sole job is to enforce discipline, attendance at classes and other school rules (such as dress code, drinking, smoking and hair length) along with the general maintenance of safety of the pupils at the College. Many public houses near the school had photos of the Marshal, who was permanently banned so as not to discourage the attendance of pupils who were regular patrons. The current Marshal is Christopher Hughes who took his position in the term starting September 2010. The previous Marshal was Major Paul Simcox MBE. By tradition, a Marshal's name is not added to the plaque listing the names of the school's Marshals until after his death.

Religious community

Clifton has chapel services and a focus on Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, but for 125 years there was also a Jewish boarding house (Polack's), complete with kosher dining facilities and synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 for boys in the Upper School. This was the last of its kind in Europe. However, at the end of the 2004-05 school year, the Polack's trust announced that Polack's House would be closed due to the low numbers of boys in the house (although many pupils were turned down subsequently).

The school chapel was the inspiration behind Newbolt's poem Clifton Chapel, which starts:

This is the Chapel: here, my son,
Your father thought the thoughts of youth,
And heard the words that one by one
The touch of Life has turn'd to truth.
Here in a day that is not far,
You too may speak with noble ghosts
Of manhood and the vows of war
You made before the Lord of Hosts.

Redgrave Theatre

Clifton College owns a theatre, originally known as the Clifton College Theatre but renamed in honour of old-boy actor Michael Redgrave
Michael Redgrave
Sir Michael Scudamore Redgrave, CBE was an English stage and film actor, director, manager and author.-Youth and education:...

. The theatre was built in the 1960s and has a seating capacity of 323. As well as school productions, the venue hosts visiting small scale productions including many by the nearby Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, opened by Laurence Olivier in 1946, is an affiliate of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, an organisation securing the highest standards of training in the performing arts, and is an associate school of the Faculty of Creative Arts of the University of the...



Listed in order of appointment:
  • 1862-1879 John Percival
    John Percival (bishop)
    John Percival was the first Headmaster of Clifton College, where he made his reptutation as a great educator. In his 17 years at Clifton numbers rose from 62 to 680. He accepted the Presidency of Trinity College, Oxford to recover from his exhaustive years at Clifton...

     (Bishop of Hereford
    Bishop of Hereford
    The Bishop of Hereford is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Hereford in the Province of Canterbury.The see is in the City of Hereford where the seat is located at the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary and Saint Ethelbert which was founded as a cathedral in 676.The Bishop's residence is...

  • 1879-1890 Canon James Maurice Wilson
    James Maurice Wilson
    Rev. James Maurice Wilson was a British theologian, maths and science teacher, and astronomer.-Early life:...

  • 1891-1905 Canon Michael George Glazebrook
  • 1905-1909 Albert David (Bishop of Liverpool
    Bishop of Liverpool
    The Bishop of Liverpool is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Liverpool in the Province of York.The diocese stretches from Southport in the north, to Widnes in the south, and from the River Mersey to Wigan in the east. Its see is in the City of Liverpool at the Cathedral Church of...

  • 1909-1923 John David King
  • 1923-1938 Norman Whatley
  • 1938-1948 Bertrand Hallward
    Bertrand Hallward
    Bertrand Hallward was the first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham.Hallward was a pupil at Haileybury College, an undergraduate at King's College, Cambridge and a Classics don at Peterhouse, Cambridge prior to becoming headmaster of Clifton College...

  • 1948-1954 Henry Desmond Pritchard Lee
    Desmond Lee
    Sir Henry Desmond Pritchard Lee , known as Desmond Lee, was an English classical scholar specializing in ancient philosophy who became a Fellow and tutor of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, a lecturer in the University, and head master successively of Clifton College and Winchester College,...

  • 1954-1962 Nicholas Hammond
    N. G. L. Hammond
    Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond CBE, DSO was a British scholar of ancient Greece of great accomplishment and an operative for the British Special Operations Executive in occupied Greece during World War II....

  • 1963-1975 Stephen McWatters
  • 1975-1990 Stuart Morrison Andrews
  • 1990-2000 Andrew Hugh Monro
  • 2000-2005 Stephen Spurr
    Stephen Spurr
    Dr M.S. Spurr, commonly known in the UK as Stephen Spurr, is currently the Head Master of Westminster School, the British public school, having taken over from Tristram Jones-Parry in 2005. He is an advocate of "exam reform"...

  • 2005- Mark Moore
    Mark Moore (Clifton College)
    Mark J Moore is currently the headmaster of Clifton College in Bristol - he succeeded Stephen Spurr in 2005. Clifton College is a co-educational independent school and has around 720 children in the Upper School of which about a third are girls.Moore was educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School...

Notable former masters

  • Alexander Jones
    Alexander Jones (footballer)
    Alexander Fletcher Jones was a Welsh amateur footballer who played at centre-forward for Wales in their second international match against Scotland in March 1877. He was killed in a shooting accident on board a train....

      (1854–1878), former Wales
    Wales national football team
    The Wales national football team represents Wales in international football. It is controlled by the Football Association of Wales , the governing body for football in Wales, and the third oldest national football association in the world. The team have only qualified for a major international...

     international footballer, who was killed in a shooting accident on board a train whilst accompanying a group of college cadets home from rifle practice.
  • R. P. Keigwin
    R. P. Keigwin
    Richard Prescott Keigwin was an English academic. He also played first-class cricket for Cambridge University, the Marylebone Cricket Club, Essex County Cricket Club and Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, and played hockey for Essex and England.-Early life and education:Keigwin was born in...

  • Rt Revd David Stancliffe
    David Stancliffe
    David Staffurth Stancliffe was the Anglican Bishop of Salisbury from 1993 to 2010.Stancliffe was consecrated as the 77th Bishop of Salisbury at Westminster Abbey on 30 November 1993 and enthroned in Salisbury Cathedral on 9 December 1993, having previously been Provost of Portsmouth for 11 years...

  • T. H. Stokoe
    T. H. Stokoe
    Thomas Henry Stokoe DD , known as T. H. Stokoe and as Dr Stokoe, was an English clergyman, schoolmaster, author and headmaster....

  • John L. Thorn
    John Leonard Thorn
    John Leonard Thorn is a writer and educational consultant. He was headmaster of Repton School from 1961 to 1968 and then of Winchester College until 1985...

The Old Cliftonian Society and the Clifton College Register

The Old Cliftonian Society [OCS] is the Society for the alumni of Clifton College - whether pupils or staff. The OCS organises reunions at the school and publishes a newsletter for alumni. Alumni are known as Old Cliftonians or OCs.

The Register's motto:
"There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported..."

The Clifton College Register
Clifton College - school register
The Old Cliftonian Society is the society for the alumni of Clifton College - whether pupils or staff. The OCS organises regular reunions at the school and publishes a regular newsletter for alumni....

 is the official set of records held for Clifton College in Bristol. The Register is kept and maintained by the Old Cliftonian Society.

These records have been maintained unbroken from the start of the school in 1862 and list every pupil, master and headmaster. Each person is allocated a school number - for masters and headmasters the number is prefixed with either an M or HM. The Register also maintains a record of the school roll in numbers, the Heads of School and summarises the major sporting records for each year.

The Register is published by the Old Cliftonian Society; there are three volumes:
  • 1862 - 1947
  • 1948 - 1977
  • 1978 - 1994

First entries in the Register:-


  • M1. Sept 1862 - Rev T. H. Stokoe (educated at Uppingham
    Uppingham School
    Uppingham School is a co-educational independent school of the English public school tradition, situated in the small town of Uppingham in Rutland, England...

    ; Exhibitioner of Lincoln College, Oxford
    Lincoln College, Oxford
    Lincoln College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. It is situated on Turl Street in central Oxford, backing onto Brasenose College and adjacent to Exeter College...

    ; left 1863; Preacher of Gray's Inn
    Gray's Inn
    The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, commonly known as Gray's Inn, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns...

    ; d 1903)

The early years
  • Numbers of pupils in the school
  • 1862 - 69
  • 1863 - 195 (including the new junior school)
  • 1864 - 237
  • 1865 - 258
  • 1866 - 278

  • Heads of School
  • 1862 - H. W. Wellesley
  • 1863 - A. W. Paul

External links

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