Dean Close School

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Dean Close School
Dean Close School Logo.jpg
Motto Latin: verbum dei lucerna
("God's word. A guiding light")
Established 1886
Type Independent day and boarding
Religion Church of England[1]
President Caroline Cox, Baroness Cox[2]
Headmaster Jonathan Lancashire MA, FCA[1][3]
Deputy Head Bradley Salisbury MEd, PGCE[3]
Chairman of the Trustees Kathryn Carden[2]
Location Shelburne Road
GL51 6HE
United Kingdom
DfE number 916/6035
Students 900
Gender Co-educational
Ages 3–18
Colours Maroon and Navy
Former pupils Old Decanians

Dean Close School is a co-educational day and boarding public school in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. The School is divided into pre-prep, preparatory and senior schools located on separate but adjacent sites outside Cheltenham town centre, occupying the largest private land area in the town. Pupils may be enrolled as young as 3 in the pre-preparatory school, and continue through to 18 at the senior school. Dean Close is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.


The School, originally "The Dean Close Memorial School", was founded in 1886 (79th of the 103 Victorian public schools in order of foundation)<> and named after the Very Reverend Francis Close, Dean of Carlisle Cathedral. Alumni include the poet James Elroy Flecker, whose father was the School's first headmaster (the old Flecker Hall was named after him), and the artist Francis Bacon.

In the First World War more than 120 former pupils were killed; their names, along with the names of young men killed during the Second World War, are recorded in the School's memorial chapel which was consecrated in 1923.

The school buildings were requisitioned by the Home Office during World War II[4] and the staff and pupils were relocated to nearby Monkton Combe School. Ultimately, the buildings were not required by the government, and were handed back in 1940. In December of the same year, the School was hit by five bombs during air raids. Two of the bombs caused substantial damage to the Junior School and shrapnel damage can be observed on what was the Careers building, now an administrative office.

In 1967, the first girl was admitted for tutorials, and by 1969 the School had started encouraging female applicants to study full-time. Enrolment increased over the next 35 years to create a balanced co-educational environment, with almost equal numbers of boys and girls.

The most recent additions to the school's property are a £3 million sports hall [5] and a £4.5 million prep school hall[6] which opened in October 2013.

In the past, many members of the British Royal Family had visited the school. The list includes Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth of York), Charles, Prince of Wales, Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy.[7]

In June 2015, Dean Close School announced the acquisition of a feeder Preparatory school, St Johns on the Hill, Chepstow.[8]

Academic achievement[edit]

A-Level results in 2007 saw the school achieve a 100% pass rate with 81% of exams graded A–B. These results have put Dean Close in the top 100 schools in England as ranked by UCAS points per candidate. A majority of pupils attend Russell Group universities, with almost one in six achieving places at Oxbridge in recent years.[9]

In 2010, Dean Close pupils achieved the best GCSE results in the School's history with 62% attaining A/A*, and with an overall pass rate of 98%.

As of 2014, Dean Close School is ranked 61st in co-educational senior boarding schools by A Levels, with 43% of pupils achieving A level A & A* grades.[10] 60% of pupils at Dean Close School also achieved GCSE level A & A* grades.


There are 10 drama productions every year on average, from whole school musicals to pupil-produced plays. These take place in either the Bacon Theatre (a 550-seat theatre) or in the drama studio. In recent years the whole school musicals have included Singing in the Rain, Chicago, South Pacific, Les Misérables, Cabaret and West Side Story. The school has visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with their own theatre company, Close Up Theatre, every year since 2004, achieving Sell-out Status on every occasion. Last year they performed Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, and were sold-out before the first performance. Visits from notable actors to Dean Close in the last few years include: Dominic West, Nathaniel Parker, Dame Judi Dench, Samuel West, Nigel Havers, Jamie Parker and Julian Fellowes. In the last 5 years, pupils have gone to RADA, LAMDA, Central, Mountview, Rose Bruford, ALRA and AADA (USA)[11] The school also achieves a high success rate at the Cheltenham Festival, winning many of the entered classes. They also have pupils acting semi-professionally at venues such as the Globe.


In February 2013, the U18 girls won the Schools National Hockey competition, and Silver Medallists in the final of the indoor format a month previously. In the summer of 2012 the U16 boys hockey team won the Schools National Hockey competition. In the summer of 2009, Dean Close U18 boys hockey team won the Schools National Hockey competition. They also reached the schools National Hockey Finals again in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, Dean Close equestrians won the National Schools Cross-Country Champions and the National Schools’ Two-Day Event.

Houses (Senior)[edit]

  • Brook Court — Boys' boarding (opened by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex)
  • Dale — Boys' day
  • Fawley — Girls' boarding
  • Field — Boys' day
  • Gate — Boys' boarding (6th Form)
  • Hatherley — Girls' day
  • Mead — Girls' day
  • Shelburne — Girls' boarding
  • Tower — Boys' boarding (opened by Bear Grylls)
  • Turner — Girls' boarding (6th Form)

Houses (Prep school)[edit]

  • Caledecote — Boarding boys (Year 6-8)
  • Fortfield — Boarding girls (Year 6-8)
  • Wilton — Boarding Junior (Boys & Girls) (Year 3-5)
  • Oaksey — Day
  • Deacon — Day
  • Yeaman — Day

Notable Old Decanians[edit]

Former students of the school are known as 'Old Decanians', decanus being the Latin for dean.


  1. ^ a b "School Overview: Dean Close School". DirectGov. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Governance". Dean Close School. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Staff List". Dean Close School. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "School History". 1954-01-01. Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  5. ^ "Facilities". Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  6. ^ "New £4.5 million hall at Cheltenham's Dean Close Prep School". Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  7. ^ "Facilities". Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  8. ^ "Dean Close joins forces with St John's on the Hill". Dean Close School. 2015-06-08. Retrieved 2015-06-27. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ [2][dead link]
  11. ^ "Dean Close School". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  12. ^ "Honorary fellowships presented to five prominent surgeons: Citation for Mr. Bernard Ribeiro" (PDF). Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons 93 (11): 38–39. November 2008. 
  13. ^ Major St Clair Tisdall - obituary. The Telegraph, 3 March 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°53′34″N 2°6′18″W / 51.89278°N 2.10500°W / 51.89278; -2.10500