Kimbolton School

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Kimbolton School
Kimbolton School Crest.svg
Motto Spes Durat Avorum (Latin: "Let the hopes of our forefathers endure")
Established 1600 (Earliest references from 1531)
Type Public school
Independent school
Religion Inter-denominational
Head Master Jonathan Belbin
Deputy Head Master Mark Eddon
Founders Henry Balye and William Dawson
Location Kimbolton
PE28 0EA
DfE URN 110925 Tables
Gender Coeducational
Ages 4–18
Houses Four in the Preparatory School, and five in the Senior School - Ingrams for I and II forms, then split up into Dawsons, Balyes, Gibbards and Owens from the III Form to the UVI Form.

Purple, White and Black

Publication The Kimboltonian
Former pupils Old Kimboltonians/OKs

Kimbolton School is a British HMC co-educational independent day and boarding school in the village of Kimbolton, in rural Huntingdonshire in Cambridgeshire, educating approximately 950 boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 18, with boarding starting at age 11. Since 1951, the school has occupied Kimbolton Castle, the former seat of the Dukes of Manchester.


Kimbolton School has had a strong role within the village of Kimbolton since it was founded. The school is the successor to the village grammar school; although there are references to a school at Kimbolton as early as 1531, the generally accepted date for the foundation is 1600. The school originally occupied buildings within the Churchyard, but moved to new premises in Tilbrook Road in the late 19th century. In 1949 it was renamed from Kimbolton Grammar School to Kimbolton School, and the following year it bought Kimbolton Castle from the Duke of Manchester.

The Senior School is based in the grounds of the Castle, and its Preparatory School is based at the other end of the village, but is connected to the senior school via 'The Duchess Walk', a tree-lined pathway. The grounds total over 190 acres (77 ha).

The School's Latin motto is Spes Durat Avorum (may the hope of our forefathers endure).

List of Headmasters[edit]

The School has a tradition of headmasters staying for a long time. William Ingram (after whom the junior house is now named) 1913-47, Cyril Lewis (who oversaw the movement of the school to the Castle and the theatre was named after him) 1947-73, David Donaldson (after whom the Science block is named and who first admitted girls to the school) 1973-87, Roger Peel (after whom the sports hall is named) 1987-2002 and the current headmaster Jonathan Belbin, 2002 onwards.

Teaching Buildings[edit]

The Castle[edit]

The castle was bought by Henry Montagu, 1st Earl of Manchester, in 1615. His descendants owned the castle for 335 years until it was sold in 1950.

Charles Edward Montagu, the 4th Earl, who was created 1st Duke of Manchester in 1719, had many works of reconstruction carried out between 1690 and 1720. Sir John Vanbrugh and his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor redesigned the facades of the castle in a classical style, but with battlements to evoke its history as a castle, the portico was later added by Alessandro Galilei. The Venetian painter Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini redecorated some of the reconstructed rooms in 1708, including the main staircase, now called the Pellegrini Staircase, and the chapel. Rich gilded furnishings in a Louis XIV-inspired style were commissioned from French upholsterers working in London.

For a later duke, Robert Adam produced plans for the castle gatehouse and other garden buildings, including an orangery. Only one of these buildings, the gatehouse, was constructed, in around 1764. Mews buildings were added to provide stables, and an avenue of giant sequoias was planted in the 19th century.

The castle was used by the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War II, and the 10th Duke of Manchester sold the castle to the school in 1950. The furnishings were scattered in sales and some have come to national collections. There is limited public opening during the school holidays and at weekends.

The castle is mostly used for 4th, 5th and 6th form teaching, and social and public events. It is also often used for weddings and other functions and is used as a television/film location from time to time. Teaching and other activities take place in outlying buildings, including the castle's mews block and newer buildings.

The Vanbrugh Library[edit]

The Vanbrugh Library at the Senior School holds over 12,000 books, DVDs and periodicals. It also houses a suite of 22 PCs. The award-winning library is modern and popular and well-used. It is open throughout the day for Sixth Form private study, class use and individual research. At other times, pupils may use the library to study, work on homework or projects, choose resources or relax and read. The school's online library programme encourages pupils to make the most of their library and of the wider world of information through a structured approach to the teaching of information skills.

Regular visits from authors provide workshops for pupils of all ages. Such activities serve as a catalyst for creativity and help to inspire pupils to further explore the world of literature.

Recent author visits include Sir Terry Pratchett, Alexander McCall Smith, Malcolm Rose, Nicola Morgan, Alan Gibbons, Adisa and Mark Robson.


There are around 670 male and female students in the senior school (ages 11 to 18), in four Houses, named after the two founders and two previous teachers at the school: Balyes, Dawsons, Gibbards, and Owens. Until recently, all the boarders were in Dawsons House; they are now allocated to all four senior houses. A second house for boarders, Ingrams, was merged with Dawsons in the 1980s, and was reborn as a separate house for all First Form and Second Form pupils. These move into the senior houses at the start of the Third Form. Ingrams compete in a separate house competition between classes, although they have many of the same events as the senior house competition. There are around 300 pupils in the Preparatory School (ages 4 to 11), in four houses named after the families that owned the castle: Fitzpiers, Montagu, Stafford and Wingfield.

Balyes      Senior School - Third Form to Upper Sixth Form. Named after one of the founders of the School, Henry Balye.
Dawsons      Senior School - Third Form to Upper Sixth Form. Named after one of the founders of the School, William Dawson. The house is typically dominated by members of the two boarding houses on the high street.
Gibbards      Senior School - Third Form to Upper Sixth Form. Named after a former Master of the School. The House motto is Cave Viridus Draconem.
Owens      Senior School - Third Form to Upper Sixth Form. Named after a former Master at the School. The house mascot being a Phoenix, which is represented on the House flag.
Ingrams      Senior School - First and Second Forms. Named after a former headmaster, William Ingram.
Fitzpiers      Preparatory School - Named after one of the original owners of the Castle, Geoffrey Fitz Peter, the then Earl of Essex, during the 13th century.
Montagu      Preparatory School - Named after Henry Montagu. Owner of the Castle in the 17th Century.
Stafford      Preparatory School - Named after one of the original owners of the Castle, Ann Stafford, widow of the Duke of Buckingham, in the mid-15th century.
Wingfield      Preparatory School - Named after the Wingfield family, most notably Edward Maria Wingfield, owners of the Castle in the 16th Century.


The boarding houses are on Kimbolton village's historic and beautiful High Street and back onto the school grounds. The boys live in Kimbolton House and the girls are a few doors further along in White House. Both houses have a rich history and are full of character yet have modern facilities.

There is a team of boarding staff in each house who are always on hand to provide help and guidance. The Health Centre provides medical back-up while the catering staff produce interesting, nutritional meals throughout the week. All of the boarders eat together in the recently refurbished Dining Hall.


Kimbolton School's distinctive uniform starts with the solid purple blazers worn by pupils in the Preparatory School. When pupils have moved into the Senior School they wear the unique black, purple and white striped blazer from the first to fifth forms. Pupils in the Sixth Form wear suits, with Upper Sixth form pupils permitted to wear coloured jumpers, and for male pupils, coloured ties.

Extra Curricular[edit]


The main sports are football, hockey, netball, tennis, rounders and cricket. The school competes regularly against other independent and state schools.

The Prep School houses a modernised gymnasium, tennis courts, cricket nets, cricket pavilion and changing facilities. There is also a modern sports centre at the Senior School. There is a 25m swimming pool (opened in June 2000) where the teaching scheme has been recognised as a centre of excellence.[citation needed] There are a large number of outdoor facilities.

Games lessons take place every afternoon[citation needed] , with each year participating in either one or two sessions.

Yearly foreign sports tours are undertaken such as netball and cricket tours to South Africa and Sri Lanka, as well as hockey and football tours to Malaysia, Australia and the West Coast USA.


Kimbolton Pool currently holds Approved Training Centre Status from the Institute of Qualified Lifeguards. ATC status was devised to ensure the British Public is aware which swimming pools adhere to the strict IQL lifeguard training guidelines.

In August 2011 Kimbolton was awarded 100% at an external Approved Training Centre inspection for its training of lifeguards.

The ATC certificate was first awarded to the pool in 2000. The pool is undergoes regular inspection to ensure it is maintaining strict standards of lifeguard training.

Combined Cadet Force[edit]

The school has a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) Contingent made up of Navy, Army and RAF sections. It was named in 2010 by Country Life Magazine as one of the top three in the country. On average, at least 2 members of each year group go on to join one of the British Armed Forces; the school has a long-standing tradition of inviting one of these Old Kimboltonians back to the take the salute on Remembrance Sunday each year as the Contingent marches through Kimbolton. Over 220 pupils opt to participate in CCF training each Thursday afternoon and many also join in with the extra courses and activities at weekends and during the holidays. Each year, all of cadets participate in Field Weekend, a 3-day training period at a local military or adventure training site.[who?] also offer places at week-long Single Service residential camps during some of the holidays.

Members of the CCF are able to participate in Ministry of Defence run cadet courses including leadership, parachuting, first aid and scuba diving. Thursday afternoon training taking place on the school's campus takes advantage of its location close to Grafham Water for RN sailing, RAF Wittering for flying and its onsite range for target shooting.

The Annual General Inspection is a highlight of the year, attracting much national attention and many honourable reviewing officers including HRH The Duke of Gloucester in 2011. General Sir John McColl declared the[which?] whole day "a triumph" and noted that few cadet units could have put on such a fantastic display in such stunning surroundings.

The Royal Air Force is one of the three sections of the Kimbolton School contingent. It has consistently been ranked as one of the best in the country in all disciplines. Competing in the Air Squadron Trophy, the Kimbolton CCF(RAF) team have won the regional finals for the last four years and the national finals for the last two years.

Outdoor Pursuits[edit]

The School has a fleet of boats at nearby Grafham Water available to pupils. All Senior School pupils are encouraged to 'have a go' at sailing or canoeing, or both. Each year, a number of canoeists tackle the Devizes to Westminster (DW) 125-mile challenge. The Kimbolton Canoe Team currently holds the fastest Junior and School team times for the waterside series. They also hold a number of DW and national wins (as of 2016). Jon Sweet, the current outdoor pursuits coach, alongside chemistry teacher Alistair Gray coach the team to a high level. At the Prep School, pupils are introduced to outdoor pursuits on adventure weekends.


The Music School is accommodated in the Mews Quad and provides teaching, rehearsal, ICT and recording facilities. There are many ensembles and choirs, either directed by staff or led by pupils themselves. There are various performance opportunities, staged productions and concert performances.

Old Kimboltonians[edit]

The Old Kimboltonians' Association (OKA) provides a link with former students of the School through social events, sports fixtures and annual reunions.

Notable Old Kimboltonians[edit]


  1. ^ Elizabeth Hageman, Katherine Conway, Resurrecting Elizabeth I in Seventeenth-century England (2007), p. 73

External links[edit]