Clifton College is a co-educational independent school in the suburb of Clifton in the city of Bristol in South West England, founded in 1862. In its early years it was notable for emphasising science rather than classics in the curriculum, and for being less concerned with social elitism, e.g. by admitting day-boys on equal terms and providing a dedicated boarding house for Jewish boys, called Polack's House. Having linked its General Studies classes with Badminton School, it admitted girls to the Sixth Form in 1987 and is now fully coeducational. Polack's House closed in 2005 but a scholarship fund open to Jewish candidates still exists.
It was at Clifton that the second-highest cricket score ever recorded was made by 13-year-old A. E. J. Collins in June 1899. Collins was killed in the First World War, but his 628 not out stood as the record score till January 2016, when Pranav Dhanawade, 15 years old, of Mumbai, India, scored 1009 in a school game.
The school was also the headquarters of the US army in Britain for part of the Second World War.
Clifton is one of the original 26 English public schools as defined by the Public Schools Yearbook of 1889.
IntroductionThe school takes boys and girls aged between 13 and 18. It has its own preparatory school, Clifton College Preparatory School, for children from 8 to 13 which adjoins the school and shares many of the same facilities; there is 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 referred to as the 'Upper School'.
There are around 720 children in the Upper School of whom 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 independent schools which were found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel, exposed by The Times, 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.
Bude. In February 1941 the buildings were used by the Royal Army Service Corps as an Officer Cadet Training Unit. In 1942 they were replaced by the United States Army who established it as the headquarters of V Corps and then the First Army. Staff were involved in preparations for the Normandy landings under General Omar Bradley. After D-Day the college was taken over as headquarters of the Ninth Army under General William Hood Simpson.
To enable rapid travel and communications between the headquarters and dispersed units extensive use was made of light aircraft for travel. Some flights used Filton Airfield and others Whitchurch, however the majority were from the college's playing fields at Beggars Bush Field, between the college and Leigh Woods, which was turned into an airfield.
HousesBefore 1987, Clifton was a boys-only school with seven boarding houses and three day-houses. In each of the current seven boarding Houses live the Housemaster or Housemistress and family, an Assistant and the Matron. In addition, each House has up to four non-residential Tutors. Also, pupils wear ties with different coloured stripes according to their house membership; which are also the colours of the jerseys the pupils wear to distinguish between houses in inter-house sporting events.
There are 12 houses currently in the Upper School of Clifton College, which have an order of precedence based on the date of their foundation; it is traditional that day-pupil only houses are known as "Towns" and any house that admits boarders "Houses". There are also houses in Clifton College Preparatory School that are not listed below.
|School House||Black/Red||Spes Ancora Vitae|
Hope is the anchor of life
|Moberly's House||Red-Purple/Blue/White||Stet fortuna domus|
May fortune attend those who dwell here
|Oakeley's House||Black/White||Floruit Floret Floreat |
It has flourished, it is flourishing, may it flourish
|Wiseman's House||Black/Purple||Nec tenui ferar penna|
On no feeble wing shall I be borne
|Watson's House||Pale Blue/Black||Fratres in Unum|
|North Town||Dark Blue/Black/White||Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum|
Always go forward in life
|The South Town||Black/Green||Vis Unita Fortior|
Together we are stronger
|East Town||Black/Yellow/Orange||Sol Semper Resurgit|
The sun always rises again
|Worcester House||Black/Green/White||Possunt quia posse videntur|
They can because they think they can
|West Town||Black/Pink||A posse ad esse|
From the possible to the actual
|Hallward's House||Black/Purple/Green||Si vobis confiditis, mundus vobis erit |
Believe in yourself and the world is yours
|F||Day with Sixth Form Boarding|
Holland's house, a girls day house, was made in 2017 with colours white, pink and navy.
Several other houses have existed during the school's history. In WW2, while the school was evacuated to Bude, United House was created from pupils of houses placed in temporary abeyance. Dakyns' House and Brown's House were closed in 1993, and Polack's House, which took Jewish boys only, was closed in 2005. These are listed below:
|Dakyns' House||White-Pink-White |
|Strike Dakyns, The Devil's in the Hemp||M||Boarding||1993|
|Brown's House||Black/Yellow||Arche Andra Deixei|
Authority reveals the man
|Polack's House||Black/Red/White||Vires acquirit eundo|
We gather strength as we go
In the decades after the school's foundation, with the exception of School House, the Houses were named after the Housemaster at the time, but in the late 19th century this pattern was abandoned, and all Houses reverted to the name of their first Housemaster. This nomenclature convention was not however used for Hallward's House. When Dakyns' House and Brown's House were merged in September 1993, the original suggestion was to name the new establishment "Dakyns-Brown's House", but following a suggestion from a pupil, the name "Moberly's House" was chosen, commemorating the only teacher who had been involved in both of the antecedent establishments.
Buildings and grounds
The first school buildingsThe college buildings were designed by the architect Charles Hansom ; 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 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.
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
- The original sanitorium
- Two swimming pools
- An open rackets court
- The present workshop
- The Chapel ; this was built to Charles Hansom's original design, but was moved from the intended site. As built, the Chapel was a narrow aisleless building, and just the width of its present west end. It was the gift of the widow of Canon Guthrie. Hansom was given permission "to quarry sufficient stone from the college grounds for the purposes of the Chapel building".
Later buildingThe school's present buildings have evolved in various phases.
In early Percival years, the nucleus of the school buildings was laid down.
In 1880, the school's East Wing was completed as far as the staircase and added a science lecture-room, 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 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 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 was added and the Chapel rebuilt.
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 and the opening of the Preparatory School. Also at this time, the school acquired Hugh Ray 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.
In 1982, on the site of the old swimming pools, the new Sports Hall, remedial gym and a new covered swimming pool were built; previously boys used the 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.
More recently, in the latter 2000s, the Music School building in Guthrie Road was refurbished and extended.
Memorial archAt the side of College Road, opposite what was Dakyns' boarding house, is the college's memorial arch designed by Charles Holden, 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 planned. The college played a major part in both World Wars; Field Marshal Douglas Haig 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.
Sporting facilitiesThe college sporting facilities include:
- Close Pavilion
- of local playing fields including the Close and College fields
- of playing fields at Clifton College Sports Ground which includes:
- Four Fives courts
- Indoor heated swimming pool
- New pavilion
- On-campus cricket nets
- One 3G Football pitch
- One Olympic standard 4G hockey pitch
- Rackets court
- Real tennis court
- Seven on-campus tennis courts
- Twenty four tennis courts
- Two Astroturf hockey pitches
- Two indoor gyms
The Close featured in the poem by O.C. Sir Henry Newbolt – Vitaї Lampada
CricketClifton College was one of the original 8 "Lord's Schools", who were entitled to play fixtures at Lord's against each other. These matches were Clifton v Tonbridge, Rugby v Marlborough, Cheltenham v
Haileybury, and Eton v Harrow. The Clifton v Tonbridge fixture at Lord's was first played in 1914, but ceased to be played in the 1960s, along with most other Lord's Schools matches. Today, only Eton v Harrow continues to take place at Lord's. A centenary match took place in June 2014 to commemorate the anniversary of the first playing of this match.
On one of the college's cricket pitches, now known as Collins' Piece, what was for 116 years the highest-ever cricket score was reached in June 1899, in the inter-house match between Clark's House and North Town. In this match A. E. J. Collins, killed in the First World War, scored 628 not out, but not under the current rules of the game. The record was surpassed in January 2016 by 15-year-old Pranav Dhanawade of Mumbai, India, with a score of 1,009 in a schools' match. Collins was not the first Clifton schoolboy to hold this record: in 1868, Edward Tylecote, who went on to help England reclaim the Ashes in 1882–83, 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.
A number of famous cricketers are Clifton alumni. A fuller entry can be found under the List of Old Cliftonians, and includes:
- W. G. Grace junior, son of W. G. Grace, Gloucestershire and MCC cricketer.
- Sir Kingsmill Key, Bt., captain of Surrey, MCC and England cricketer.
- John Daniell, captain of Somerset, England rugby international
- Basil Allen, cricketer, Gloucestershire captain
- Edwin Field, Middlesex cricketer, England rugby international
- James Kirtley, England cricketer
- Matt Windows, Gloucestershire cricketer and England 'A' cap.
- Edward Tylecote, England cricketer
- George Whitehead, England cricketer
- Charlie Townsend, England cricketer
- Dr. Edward Scott, Gloucestershire & MCC cricketer, England rugby international.
- James Bush Gloucestershire cricketer, England rugby international
- Robert Edwin Bush Gloucestershire cricketer
- William Brain, English cricketer and footballer
- Archibald Fargus, English cricketer, scholar, clergyman
- Lothian Bonham-Carter, English cricketer, Justice of the Peace and soldier
Religious communityClifton has chapel services and a focus on Christianity, but for 125 years there was also a Jewish boarding house, complete with kosher dining facilities and synagogue 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.
The school chapel was the inspiration behind Newbolt's poem Clifton Chapel, which starts:
The words of this poem were recently used as the lyrics for a new hymn in the college hymn books that was written by James Hills, housemaster of The South Town and former director of music.
Redgrave TheatreClifton College has its own theatre, originally known as the Clifton College Theatre, but later renamed in honour of old-boy actor Michael Redgrave. 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.
HeadmastersListed in order of appointment:
- 1862–1879 John Percival
- 1879–1890 James Wilson
- 1891–1905 Michael George Glazebrook
- 1905–1910 Albert David
- 1910–1923 John Edward King
- 1923–1938 Norman Whatley
- 1938–1948 Bertrand Hallward
- 1948–1954 Henry Desmond Pritchard Lee
- 1954–1962 Nicholas Hammond
- 1963–1975 Stephen McWatters
- 1975–1990 Stuart Morrison Andrews
- 1990–2000 Andrew Hugh Monro
- 2000–2005 Stephen Spurr
- 2005–2015 Mark Moore
- 2015– Dr Tim Greene
Notable former masters
- Alexander Jones, former Wales footballer, killed in a shooting accident on a train while bringing a group of college cadets home from rifle practice.
- J. R. Eccles, an old boy who was a Physics master at Clifton, was later headmaster of Gresham’s
- J. L. Thorn, master at Clifton 1949 to 1961, later head of Repton and Winchester
- T. E. Brown, scholar, poet, and theologian
- R. P. Keigwin, Clifton housemaster, later Warden of Wills Hall
- James Gordon MacGregor, a science master 1877–1879
- Sir William McKie, Australian organist, Conductor, and composer
- Wilfrid Oldaker was Chaplain from 1931 to 1938, later headmaster of Christ Church Cathedral School
- Rt Revd David Stancliffe, later Bishop of Salisbury
- T. H. Stokoe, second master at Clifton, later head of Richmond Grammar School, Reading School, and King's College School.
- Sir Reginald Thatcher, composer and Principal of the Royal Academy of Music
The Old Cliftonian Society and the Clifton College RegisterThe Old Cliftonian Society 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:
The Clifton College Register 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
- P1. September 1862 – Francis Charles Anderson
- M1. September 1862 – Rev Dr T. H. Stokoe, educated at Uppingham; Exhibitioner of Lincoln College, Oxford; left 1863; Preacher of Gray's Inn; d 1903)
- Numbers of pupils in the school
- * 1862 – 69
- * 1863 – 195
- * 1864 – 237
- * 1865 – 258
- * 1866 – 278
- Heads of School
- * 1862 – H. W. Wellesley
- * 1863 – A. W. Paul