Denstone College

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Denstone College
Denstone College Logo.png

, ,
ST14 5HN

Coordinates52°57′35″N 1°52′05″W / 52.959613°N 1.868062°W / 52.959613; -1.868062Coordinates: 52°57′35″N 1°52′05″W / 52.959613°N 1.868062°W / 52.959613; -1.868062
TypeIndependent, boarding and day school
MottoLatin: Lignvm crvcis arbor scientiae
(The wood of the cross is the tree of knowledge)
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1868; 151 years ago (1868)
FounderNathaniel Woodard
Local authorityStaffordshire County Council
OversightWoodard Schools
Department for Education URN124473 Tables
HeadmasterMiles Norris[1]
Age range11–18
Enrolment619 (2018)[2]
  • Heywood
  • Philips
  • Shrewsbury
  • Meynell
  • Woodard
  • Selwyn
AffiliationHeadmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference
AlumniOld Denstonians

Denstone College is an 11–18 mixed, independent, boarding and day school in Denstone, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, England. It was founded by Nathaniel Woodard in 1868 and is a Woodard School with strong Christian and private school traditions. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.


Nathaniel Woodard founded the school, originally called St Chad's College, as his flagship school in the Midlands, following earlier foundations in southern England. Work on the school began in 1868 and it opened in 1873 with 46 boys, under the direction of Edward Clarke Lowe, provost of the Midland district of the Woodard Corporation. The buildings were designed by William Slater and Richard Carpenter in the Neo-Gothic style. The school buildings, hall, chapel and war memorial are all Grade II listed.[3]

The school's chapel was built in 1879–87 by Carpenter and Benjamin Ingelow in a late 13th-century Gothic style; it consists of a four-bay nave with a polygonal apse.[4] Land for the school was given by Sir Thomas Percival Heywood who owned the nearby Riverside Doveleys mansion.[5] Sir Thomas was the school's first bursar. The war memorial, representing St George, stands in the Lonsdale quadrangle and was unveiled in 1925. The design was by Sir Aston Webb and Son and the sculptor Alfred Drury.[6]

Day boys and girls were admitted in 1976, with girls’ boarding launched in two houses in 1981. A Royal and Ancient-accredited nine-hole golf course was opened in 1992, a new sports hall in 2000 and the schoolroom was completely refurbished as a modern theatre in 2003. A purpose-built music school and additional classrooms were completed in 2010. A further classroom block and the new sports pavilion and complex were completed in 2012, followed by a new library in 2014 and a university-style extension to girls boarding accommodation. The most recent addition to the school is the new languages and maths classroom block, titled "The Derbyshire Building", completed in 2017.

The school is divided into the following houses, named after the founders and benefactors of the school: Heywood, Philips, Shrewsbury, Meynell, Woodard and Selwyn. Previously, there were two other houses, Lonsdale and Lowe, which now no longer exist. These were also named after benefactors of the school.[7]

Preparatory School[edit]

Denstone College opened a preparatory school in 1902, which moved in 1938 to its present site of Smallwood Manor. From 1959 to 1964 the headmaster was W. P. C. Davies. The school became co-educational and opened a pre-school department in 1983. It also provided boarding accommodation until 1997 but now is a day school for ages 2–11.

Expedition to Inaccessible Island[edit]

Denstone College is noted for carrying out the most extensive scientific exploration of Inaccessible Island in the South Atlantic.[8] A group of 16 teachers and pupils led by Michael Swales sailed to the island, landing on 25 October 1982 and remained on the island until 9 February 1983, apart from an excursion to the island of Tristan da Cunha at Christmas.[9] The members of the expedition managed to ring 3,000 birds during their stay on the island,[10] and 17 research papers were produced.[11] The hut that they built at Blenden Hall on the island was demolished in 2000.

Film location[edit]

The exterior of the school was used as a location for the convent where Novice Joyce Fuddle lived for episode 4 of the 1985 BBC comedy series Happy Families.


Notable staff
  • David Edwards, former physics teacher at the school who was the first man to win a million pounds on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?[12]
  • Arthur Calder-Marshall, novelist and essayist, schoolmaster 1931–1933.
  • Moorhouse Clark (1872–1935), priest and classical master at the school for 20 years, buried at Harlow Hill Cemetery.[13]
  • 1875–78 W. Bedell Stanford (died 1929)
  • 1879–1903 D. Edwardes (died 1916)
  • 1903–05 J. Ll. Dove
  • 1905–19 F. A. Hibbert
  • 1919–31 Roy M. Grier
  • 1931– T. A. Moxon[14]

Old Denstonians[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Headmaster's Welcome". Denstone College. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Denstone College". Get information about schools. GOV.UK. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Denstone College". Listed Buildings Online. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  4. ^ "Denstone College chapel". Listed Buildings Online. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  5. ^ Raven, Michael. 2004. Guide to Staffordshire and the Black Country, The Potteries and the Peak. p. 115. ISBN 0-906114-33-0
  6. ^ The Denstonian; July 1925, pp. 71–78
  7. ^ The Denstone Register (1932); pp. 387–89
  8. ^ M. K. Swales, C. P. Siddall, N. J. Mateer, H. N. Hall, R. C. Preece, M. W. Fraser. The Denstone Expedition to Inaccessible Island. The Geographical Journal, Vol. 151, No. 3 (Nov. 1985), pp. 347–350
  9. ^ Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association – Inaccessible Island
  10. ^ Denstone Expedition to Inaccessible Island Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine; Denstonian Supplement, Autumn 1983, Page 49
  11. ^ United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre – Protected Areas Programme – Gough Island Wildlife Reserve
  12. ^ Guardian – How I made a million, 24 April 2001
  13. ^ Gravestone photographic resource: Louise Clark grave monument. Retrieved 17 March 2014
  14. ^ The Denstone Register (1932); p. 349

Further reading[edit]

  • Greenwood, E. T., ed. (1932) The Denstone Register, 1873–1930. Shrewsbury: Wilding & Son [printers]
  • The Denstonian. (School magazine: one volume a year, vols. 48–53 were published in 1924–1929)
  • Form of Services to be Used in the Chapel of St. Chads [sic], Denstone. Shrewsbury: printed by Wilding & Son, 1922 (includes "Carmen Denstonense" (School hymn) Latin and English versions, pp. 58–59)

External links[edit]