Cheltenham College

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Cheltenham College
Motto Latin: Labor omnia vincit
("Work Conquers All")
Established July 1841
Type Independent
Day & Boarding
Public school
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Dr Alex Peterken
President The Revd J C Horan
Founder G.S. Harcourt, J.S. Iredell
Location Bath Road
GL53 7LD
Local authority Gloucestershire
DfE URN 115795 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Staff 88[1]
Students 600[1]
Gender Co-educational
Ages 3–18
Houses 10
Former students Old Cheltonians
Publication The Cheltonians

Cheltenham College is a co-educational independent school, located in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. Regarded today as one of the major public schools of the Victorian period, it was opened in July 1841. A Church of England foundation, it is known for its classical, military and sporting traditions, and currently has 610 pupils.


Two Cheltenham residents, G.S. Harcourt and J.S. Iredell, founded Cheltenham College in 1841 to educate the sons of gentlemen. It originally opened in three houses along Bays Hill Terrace in the centre of the town.

Within two years it had moved to its present site—with Boyne House as the first College Boarding House—and soon became known simply as Cheltenham College. Taking both boarding and day boys, it was originally divided into Classical and Military sides until the mid-twentieth century. The 1893 book Great Public Schools by E. S. Skirving, S. R. James, and Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte contained a chapter on each of what they considered England's ten greatest public schools; it included a chapter on Cheltenham College. It is now an independent fee paying school, governed by Cheltenham College Council. A few girls were admitted in 1969 and then in 1981 when the first girls' house opened, the Sixth Form became fully co educational. In 1998, girls were admitted to all other years, making the College fully co-educational.

In 1865, a Junior Department was added to the main College buildings. In 1993 it opened its doors to girls and also opened Kingfishers for 3–7-year olds.

Work and service

In the First World War 675 Old Cheltonians (former pupils) were killed in the service of their country, and a further 363 died in World War II. Cheltenham's military past is recognised by the fact that it is one of only three schools in England (the others being Eton College, founded in 1440, and the Duke of York's Royal Military School, founded in 1803) to have its own military colours (last presented in 2000 by The Princess Royal). Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, Scotland, also has Colours.

Cheltenham College chapel and library (Big Modern)

The names of those Old Cheltonians killed in World War I are recorded in the College chapel, completed in 1896, which to a degree resembles King's College Chapel, Cambridge and is one of the chapels of an English public school. The names of those killed in the World War II are displayed on the memorial in the College's dining hall.

Cheltenham has approximately 640 pupils (a fifth being day pupils) between the ages of 13 and 18.[2] The fees are about £30,000 a year, making it amongst the most expensive schools in the country.[3] The school is now co-educational and maintains a strong academic reputation, with the majority of pupils going to The Russell Group Universities, and around 7% going on to Oxford and Cambridge universities. Both GCSE and A Level results are among the highest in Gloucestershire.[4][5]

There is also a prep school, Cheltenham College Preparatory School, most of whose pupils go on to the senior school.

Cheltenham has links with the Wynberg Boys' High School in Cape Town, South Africa—an all-boys boarding school coincidentally established in 1841, the same year as Cheltenham.


Cheltenham College consists of a preparatory school and senior school and educates students from ages 3 to 18. The boarding programme is also available to junior school students.



Cheltenham has a sporting tradition, competing with larger single gender schools. The first inter-school rugby football match was played between Rugby School and Cheltenham College, Cheltenham beating Rugby; and the "Cheltenham Rules" were adopted by the Rugby Football Union in 1887. Cheltenham also reached the final of The National Schools 7s Festival four times in the last ten years, winning the competition in 1998, 2003 and 2004. Cheltenham's rugby XV was undefeated in the 2008 season.[6] Of note, Eddie Butler, former Welsh, Babarian and British Lions International Rugby player, and now the main rugby commentator for the BBC, taught French at the school.


The Boat Club was founded in 1841. The Boat House itself is located at the foot of Tewkesbury Abbey on the banks of the River Severn. Key events in the rowing calendar are; Schools' Head of the River Race, The National Schools Regatta and Henley Royal Regatta. At the 2013 National School's Head of River, the 1st IV+ came first in their division.[7]


Cheltenham College plays Rackets where, at times, they have dominated the Queen's Club Public Schools Competition; Cheltenham has been National Champions three times from 2003 to 2011. Chris Stout won the Foster Cup (the individual championship for public schools) at Queen's Club in December 2011. The current World Champion, Jamie Stout (Chris' brother), is an Old Cheltonian as well .[8]


Cheltenham were National Schools Champions in 1997, 1998, 2004, & 2005 and Arena Champions in 2004, 2005 & 2006.[9]


Cricket is one of the main sports that is played in summer. Cheltenham College enjoys a longstanding tradition of cricket and is the home of the famous 'Cheltenham Cricket Festival'. Gloucestershire County Cricket Club played its first game at Cheltenham College 137 years ago, making this the oldest cricket festival in the world.[10]


There are ten houses, two of which are day houses: Southwood for the boys and Queens for the girls. Ashmead, Chandos and Westal are the girls' boarding houses whilst the boys reside in either Boyne House, Christowe, Hazelwell, Leconfield or Newick House. The latest addition, Westal, a brand new £4m build opened its doors to its first girls this September.

House Name Composition Colours Housemaster/Mistress
Ashmead ( A ) Boarding Girls           Anna Cutts
Boyne House ( BH ) Boarding Boys           Richard Penny
Chandos ( C ) Boarding Girls           Annette Poulain
Christowe ( XT ) Boarding Boys      Jonathan Mace
Hazelwell ( H ) Boarding Boys           James Coull
Leconfield ( L ) Boarding Boys           Chris Reid
Newick House ( NH ) Boarding Boys           James Hayden
Queen's ( Q ) Day Girls           Will & Wandrille Bates
Southwood ( S ) Day Boys           Matt Coley
Westal ( W ) Boarding Girls      Jenny O'Bryan


Cheltenham College was used to film the majority of the school scenes in the 1968 British film If...., starring Malcolm McDowell, although an agreement between the school's then Headmaster, David Ashcroft, and the film's director, Lindsay Anderson (who was a former pupil and Senior Prefect), prevented the filmmakers from crediting the school. Additional interior scenes were filmed at Aldenham School in Hertfordshire, which gained sole accreditation in the film's closing credit. Two Surrey independent schools, Charterhouse School and Cranleigh School, had also negotiated to appear, but pulled out of negotiations once the subject matter of the film became clear.

Old Cheltonians

Victoria Cross recipients

Fourteen Victoria Crosses (VCs) have been won by Old Cheltonians,[11] with only Eton College (37), Harrow School (19), Haileybury College (17), and Wellington College (15), having higher totals.(Although it should be taken into account that the Duke of York's Royal Military School does not publish lists of recipients of bravery awards in order not to diminish the service of those several thousand former pupils who have fought in battle and not received the VC, but only lesser awards for gallantry).[12]

The list of names, with age and rank at the time of the deed that merited the award of the VC, is as follows:

George Cross recipient

Headmasters and principals

The headmaster is Dr Alex Peterken.

The full list of past principals and headmasters is contained in Cheltenham College Who's Who 5th edition, 2003, and is as follows:

Principals (1841–1919)

  • Rev. Alfred Phillips, D.D. 1867–82
  • Rev. Thomas Munday, D.D. 1859–67
  • Rev. David Barker, D.D. 1845–59
  • Rev. Henry Highton 1859–62
  • Rev. Alfred Barry, D.D. 1862–68
  • Rev. Thomas William Jex-Blake 1868–74
  • Rev. Herbert Kynaston, D.D. 1874–88
  • Rev. Herbert Armitage James, D.D. 1889–95
  • Rev. Robert Stuart de Courcy Laffan 1895–99
  • Rev. Reginald Waterfield, D.D. 1899–1919

Headmasters (1919 – present)

  • Henry Harrison Hardy 1919–32
  • Richard Victor Harley Roseveare 1932–37
  • Arthur Goodhart Pite 1937–38
  • John Bell 1938–40
  • Alan Guy Elliott-Smith 1940–51
  • Rev. Arthur Godolphin Guy Carleton Pentreath 1952–59
  • David Ashcroft 1959–78
  • Richard Martin Morgan 1978–90
  • Peter David Vaughan Wilkes 1990–97
  • Paul Arthur Chamberlain 1997–2004
  • John Stephen Richardson 2004–2010
  • Dr Alex Peterken 2010–

Headmasters of the Junior School

  • Rev. Thomas Middlemore Middlemore-Whithard 1863–65
  • Francis Joseph Cade OC 1896–1910
  • Charles Thornton OC 1911–23
  • Basil Allcot Bowers OC 1923–33
  • William Donavan Johnston 1933–46
  • Hugh Alan Clutton-Brock 1946–64
  • William Philip Cathcart Davies 1964–86
  • David John Allenby Cassell 1986–91
  • Nigel Iain Archdale 1992–2008
  • Adrian Morris 2008–2010
  • Scott Bryan 2010–2012
  • Noll Jenkins 2012–2013 (acting Headmaster)
  • Jonathan Whybrow 2013–

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Facts & figures". Cheltenham College. Archived from the original on 22 August 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Welcome" defined multiple times with different content
  2. [1] Archived 22 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. "Fees 2011/2012". Cheltenham College. 10 September 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "2006 GCSE and A-level results: Gloucestershire | Schools special reports". Retrieved 28 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Education (25 September 2008). "Town vs Gown: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. School Sport (15 December 2008). "Cheltenham College 1st XV remain undefeated throughout school rugby season". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Rackets". Cheltenham College. 10 September 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Success for College Polo Teams". Cheltenham College. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Cricket". Cheltenham College. 10 September 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Michael Croke Morgan, (1968), Cheltenham College: The First Hundred Years, page 219, (published for the Cheltonian Society by Sadler)
  12. Fully referenced cited article on number of VCs, school by school, can be found at List of Victoria Crosses by School
  13. "The Life of Duncan Boyes, V.C". Retrieved 28 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. George Cross Database Recipient: Andre Gilbert KEMPSTER, GC (Posthumously) Archived 23 August 2004 at the Wayback Machine


  • Cheltenham College: The First Hundred Years by Michael C. Morgan [Chalfont St. Giles: Richard Sadler, for the Cheltonian Society, 1968]. A formal history, starting with the meeting on 9 November 1840 of Cheltenham residents (presided over by Major-General George Swiney) who decided to set up a 'Proprietary Grammar School' and appointed a committee to achieve this. ISBN unknown/unavailable.
  • Then & Now: An Anniversary Celebration of Cheltenham College 1841–1991 by Tim Pearce, (Cheltonian Society, 1991). The author explains in the Preface that this is "more of a scrap book than a formal history, and like all scrap books it reflects the tastes and interests of its compilers and depends on what in the way of pictures and documents may be available to them". ISBN 0-85967-875-X
  • Cheltenham College Who's Who, 5th edition ed. John Bowes, (Cheltonian Society, 2003) No ISBN on book.
  • Floreat, A collection of photographs of College life from the 1960s and early 1970s compiled by the late M.F. Miller, a Physics master at the school

External links

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