Downsend School

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Downsend School
Downsend logo.JPG
Leatherhead Road

, ,
KT22 8TJ

TypeIndependent school
Preparatory School
MottoNihil Virtuti Invium (Latin for Nothing is denied to valour)
Religious affiliation(s)Non Denominational
Local authoritySurrey
Department for Education URN125351 Tables
Head MasterMr Ian Thorpe[2]
Age2 to 16
HousesNorbury, Headley, Wisley, Ranmore

Downsend School is a co-educational independent school for pupils aged between two and sixteen because now Downsend have updated to GCSE for the year 7s. It is located in Ashtead, Leatherhead and Epsom, in Surrey, UK.[3][4]

Downsend was founded by and for nearly a century owned and headmastered by three generations of the Linford family. A. H. Linford had started Peterborough Lodge, a preparatory school for about 100 boys aged 5 to 15, including 5 to 10 boarders, at 143 Finchley Road, Hampstead, about 1898.[5] During the First World War he opened Downsend for the boarders from Peterborough Lodge, and in 1940 after the beginning of the Second World War the two schools amalgamated at the Downsend site between Leatherhead and Ashtead, and A. H. Linford's son Cedric T. Linford became headmaster. For about a year from 1942 the boarders were taken out of the London area to Hurstpierpoint College in Sussex, where they were under the control of the mathematics master, Denys Straker. C. T. Linford remained headmaster, also teaching Latin and Greek, until his son Christopher J. Linford took over in 1968. The school was run as a non-denominational preparatory school for boys aged 8 to 13. It achieved a good record for scholarships to leading public schools, especially during the long period when Denys Straker was the mathematics master. In 1968 the school had 220 boys; Christopher Linford expanded the business to four schools in the area educating a total of around 900 boys and girls. In 2002 no one in the family was willing to take on the heavy responsibility of running the school and it was sold to Asquith Court Schools Ltd.[6]

It is now a school for boys and girls, and takes on pupils from 6 to 13 years of age. Unusually the school does not have charitable status, being run as a profitable business by Cognita Limited (chaired by Chris Woodhead). Downsend's headmaster is Mr Ian Thorpe, previously head of Chinthurst School. The sports ground is on site. Though the school goes from 6 to 13, there are also 3 lodges which admit children from 2½ to 6. Downsend school costs £1,030 - £5,145 a term.[7]

The school[edit]

Downsend is situated at 1 Leatherhead Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 8TJ, just outside Ashtead. Its lodges are in Epsom, Leatherhead and Ashtead, all surrounding the main site. There are roughly 100 pupils in each year for the main school and then slightly fewer in the Senior School (years 7 and 8) due to some pupils leaving after the 11+ exam to go to secondary school. The structure of the school is as follows: years 2-4 are the Junior School. Pupils then automatically ascend into the Middle School (years 5-6), and then may continue into the Senior School, at the age of 11 for two more years to prepare for 13+ Common Entrance examinations to local schools such as St Johns, Epsom College and City of London Freemen's School.


Downsend has a site on Leatherhead Road. There is a sports hall and an adjacent indoor, heated swimming pool with multiple changing rooms. There are a total of 6 tennis courts on tarmac surfaces, and a covered area. On 12 May 2007 the local Member of Parliament, Chris Grayling, opened the new Astro Turf.[8] The senior, middle and junior schools are all separate but connected. The junior school has its own hall and library and headmistress or master. This is the same with the middle school and senior school. The school has administration offices and science laboratories. Downsend has several outdoor play areas and a dining hall/theatre. There are design and technology laboratories for woodwork and textiles. There is a viewing gallery above the pool and sports hall.


Downsend has large grass playing fields and an astro-turf one located on site. This was opened to pupils in 2007. The school has several rugby, football, cricket and rounders pitches. The tarmac area can be converted into tennis courts, netball pitches, basketball courts or hockey[9] (although hockey is generally on the astro) pitches. The sports hall can be used for basketball as it has several hoops and pitches. Badminton can be played in the hall as can gymnastics and volleyball. Inside the hall, there are 4 cricket nets. The swimming pool is used for class swimming lessons. The school has sports teams in soccer, rugby, netball, cricket, rounders, basketball, athletics, swimming and hockey. These teams compete in inter-school matches as well as school games.

The school competes regularly in the National Biathlon Championships,[10] in 2012 held at Crystal Palace and, in 2012, has maintained its record of 7 national titles in a row.[11]


House events play an important part in school life at Downsend, the pupils are randomly split up into four houses (although siblings are in the same house): Norbury (red), Ranmore (yellow), Wisley (blue) and Headley (green). The houses compete for house points. Pupils are not divided into classes by house. In the Senior School pupils compete with not only house points but with credits (+5 house points) and debits (-5 house points) too. The house names were thought up in a competition early in 2000 and there were many ideas submitted. The winner was the school's music teacher at the time, Trevor Pratt, who suggested naming the houses after local beauty spots.

In earlier times a system of houses existed only in the Senior School (then covering the last three years) with pupils divided between Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. In addition to form masters in each year, each pupil in the Senior School had a tutor, allocated by house, who would oversee them throughout their three years. The tutorial system was gradually detached from the houses from 1992 onwards.


The three lodges are located around the main site in the towns of Leatherhead, Ashtead and Epsom. They take children from 2½ to 6 years of age and pupils can automatically transfer up to the main school. Each lodge has its own headmistress and staff. There is also a toddler group at the lodges.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Leinster-Mackay, Donald (15 November 1984). The Rise of the English Prep School. Falmer Press. p. 234. ISBN 978-0-905273-74-7. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 August 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Fab four win national crown". Retrieved 6 January 2008.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Downsend School". Department for Education. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Fees". Downsend School. 2012. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Out and About Pictures - Archive - Chris Grayling MP - Conservative Member of Parliament for Epsom and Ewell - Working for you". Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2012\quote=[Chris Grayling] Opening the new all-weather sports pitch at Downsend School. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  9. ^ "Downsend triumphant - This is Surrey". Surrey Today. 9 April 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2012. DOWNSEND School's U11 girls' hockey team have been crowned Surrey champions.
  10. ^ Wardle, Donna (31 March 2009). "Downsend are pride of Britain". Your Local Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2012. Downsend School in Leatherhead have claimed four titles at the British Schools Biathlon Championships in Bath
  11. ^ "Downsend pupils in seventh heaven - This is Surrey". Surrey Today. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2012. The school in Leatherhead have maintained their 100 per cent record of a national title for the seventh year in a row, since first entering the championships.
  12. ^ "Richard Stanley Leigh Jones (1940 - )". New South Wales Government. Retrieved 4 May 2012. Richard Stanley Leigh Jones (1940- ), activist and parliamentarian, was born at Epsom, Surrey in the UK, son of Edward and Marjorie Jones. He was educated at Downsend School and Epsom College before settling in Australia in 1965. He worked in advertising and publishing and from the late 1960s onward was an activist for environmental, human rights and animal welfare causes.
  13. ^ "Captain John Marrack - Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. 3 January 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2012. John Alexander Marrack was born on 10 February 1921 in Barnet and educated at Downsend School, Leatherhead, and Blundell's. He joined the Navy as a special entry in September 1938.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°18′00″N 0°18′52″W / 51.29999°N 0.31454°W / 51.29999; -0.31454