St Martin's Ampleforth

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St Martin's Ampleforth
Established 1930
Type Independent preparatory day and boarding school
Religion Roman Catholic (Benedictine)
Headmaster Mark O'Donnell
Location Gilling East
North Yorkshire
YO62 4HP
Coordinates: 54°11′00″N 1°03′54″W / 54.183273°N 1.064923°W / 54.183273; -1.064923
Local authority North Yorkshire
DfE number 815/6021
DfE URN 121751 Tables
Students 175~
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3–13
Affiliated School Ampleforth College
Diocese Middlesbrough

St Martin's Ampleforth (SMA) is an independent school and the preparatory school for Ampleforth College.[1] It is at Gilling Castle, North Yorkshire, England, on the southern side of a valley opposite the College on the northern side, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough.[2]



Boys in Gilling Castle in 1943
Main article: Gilling Castle

Gilling Castle dates back to the Medieval era and was originally home to the Etton family. It was Thomas de Etton who built, in the second half of the 14th century, the fortified manor house, a large tower almost square, whose basement still forms the core of the present building. It was later owned by Thomas Fairfax and changed hands a number of times before the Benedictine brothers at Ampleforth Abbey bought the property in 1929.[3] The buildings were refurbished over the years to accommodate growing pupil numbers. A playground for the nursery and pre-prep department was added in 2004.[4]


The brothers obtained ownership of the castle and founded a preparatory school there in 1930. Until 1992, it was known as Gilling Castle Preparatory School before merging with Ampleforth College's junior section to become Ampleforth College Junior School. In 2001 the Junior School merged with St Martin's, a prep school at Nawton, and became known by its current name.[5][6] The College has since moved its junior department to St Martin's and is solely a senior school.

Although St Martin's serves as the College's main feeder school it is independently managed; the College's governing body is chaired by the abbot of Ampleforth Abbey while St Martin's is managed as a charity trust and chaired by a lay member.

Cardinal Basil Hume was once Headmaster at the former Gilling Castle Prep.


St Martin's prepares pupils for the Common Entrance Exam, which is taken in Year 8.[7] Many gain scholarships to top independent schools.[8]


The boarding programme is open to both boys and, since 2001, girls.[9] They may choose between full or flexi-boarding. Senior boys reside in Castle House and junior boys and girls reside in separate sections of Foal Yard. Boarders are cared for by a team of house parents, resident teachers and boarding assistants.[10]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Rugby and cricket are the main team sports for the boys with netball and rounders for the girls. Hockey is available to both boys and girls.[11] St Martin's has a good track record in inter-school sports competitions, especially in cross country and athletics.[12][13]


External links[edit]