Hill House School

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Hill House International Junior School
Hill House School coat of arms.svg
Motto Latin: Semper vigilans
(Always watchful)
Established 1949 (Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland)
1951 (London)
Type Preparatory school
Head Master Richard Townend
Chair Max Simmons
Founder Colonel Stuart Townend
Location Hans Place
51°29′51″N 0°09′37″W / 51.4975°N 0.1602°W / 51.4975; -0.1602Coordinates: 51°29′51″N 0°09′37″W / 51.4975°N 0.1602°W / 51.4975; -0.1602
DfE URN 100518 Tables
Staff 110 (approx.)
Students 989 As of January 2012[1]
Gender Co-educational, splits up after age 9
Ages 4–13
Houses Midi, Naye, Grammont & Rosa
Colours Burgundy, maroon & tan
Former pupils Old Hill Housers
Website www.hillhouseschool.co.uk

Hill House School /ˈhɪlhs/[2] is a preparatory day independent school based in the Knightsbridge district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London. It was founded in September 1951 by Lt-Col Stuart Townend and has branches located in West London and in Switzerland, it is the largest preparatory school in London and was originally a boys' school, turning coeducational in 1981.[3][4] The school is known for its distinct uniform, which includes thick mustard cable knit jumpers, corduroy knickerbockers and knitted hats.[5]


The Good Schools Guide describes the school as "A school with a notable and inescapable past which booms at a visitor from every wood-panelled wall, display board and cabinet," also stating that "Its aim from the first was to be 'international' and to nurture each individual child's talents."[6]

Hill House pupils are often seen on the move around Knightsbridge, Sloane Square and Chelsea, and are distinct in that their school uniform entails burgundy knickerbockers, tan shirts, more often than not with mustard-coloured "gold" roundneck jumpers, the uniform was designed by the founder's wife, and is notable for its bright colours. It was designed to be used for sport as well as class lessons and lacks a tie. However, there is a cravat to be worn for weekly Assembly and special occasions, the Colonel's wife once said "a grey uniform produces grey minds, grey boys". Prince Charles went to Hill House, following advice from Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister at the time.[7] It was his first school and was the first time that an heir to the British throne had been to school, as princes were either educated by tutors or at a military academy such as Osborne. Lieutenant-Colonel Townend died in 2002 at the age of 93,[8][9] his son, Richard Townend, is now Headmaster. The school very much remains a family concern.[10]

As of 2012, there are 989 pupils at the school from the ages of 4 to 13.[1][11] Many of the pupils come from abroad. Pupils generally go on to sit the Common Entrance Examination to continue into independent secondary schools. Regular boys boarding school destinations include Eton College, Harrow School, and Charterhouse School. Boys' days schools include St Paul's School, Westminster School, City of London School, King's College School, and Latymer Upper School. Girls' boarding schools include Wycombe Abbey, Benenden School and Roedean School. Girls' day schools include St Paul's Girls' School, James Allen's Girls' School, City of London School for Girls, Francis Holland School and Queen's Gate School.

The school used to have a policy of not preparing pupils for scholarships, that has recently changed, and the school is now rapidly gaining a reputation for helping pupils win scholarships to highly ranked institutions like St Paul's School, Lancing College and Benenden.

Due to an agreement with the former headmaster, the Duke of York barracks on King's Road is used as a sports ground both for regular games lessons and the school's annual field day, The late Colonel believed that learning to swim is extremely important, so the school makes use of local swimming facilities such as Latchmere Swimming Pool. Queens Club in Fulham and the Oval in Kennington are also used for tennis, squash and cricket.

The purpose-built house in Glion, 2,500 feet (760 metres) above Lac Léman, hosts special courses throughout the year for selected pupils from London, providing experience of a boarding school environment in the setting of a mountain village in the French-speaking canton of Vaud.

It was a boys-only school until 1981, when girls were first admitted; in 1983 the first girls took the Common Entrance Examinations.

House systems[edit]

The school is also known for the names of year levels, using a system based on the Greek alphabet, the school is also spread over the area of Knightsbridge in five buildings, separating the different years:

  • Small School – children aged 4–5 – Flood Street
  • Lower School – children aged 5–6 – Milner Street and Cadogan Gardens
  • Middle School – children aged 6–7 – Pont Street
  • Upper School – children aged 7–10 – Cadogan Gardens
  • Main School – children aged 10–13 – Hans Place – consisting of:
    • Girls Transitus & Senior School – children aged 10–11 years
    • Lower Sixth – children aged 12
    • Upper Sixth – children aged 13
  • Founder's Hall – Radnor Walk

Media coverage[edit]

The school was featured in the documentary "Knickerbockers in Knightsbridge" of the ninth season of BBC series 40 minutes, where life under Head Master Stuart Townend's school is narrated.[12]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "School census data". Edubase. Departement for Education. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN 9781405881180 
  3. ^ "Hill House International Junior School profile, reviews and inspection reports | London's Top Schools". Londonpreprep.com. 2015-03-10. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  4. ^ "About the School | Hill House". Hillhouseschool.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  5. ^ "Don't Know Yet". Theydontknowyet.com. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  6. ^ Hills House School, Good Schools Guide.
  7. ^ "Prince Charles's prep school fights back after damning inspection". Telegraph. 2015-12-05. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  8. ^ Obituary: Lieutenant-Colonel Townend, Daily Telegraph, 2002.
  9. ^ Obituary: Lieutenant-Colonel Townend, The Independent, 2002.
  10. ^ BBC Television Program "Knickerbockers in Knightsbridge", 1989.
  11. ^ Hill House School, Schools Guide, The Tatler, 2006.
  12. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1423011/

External links[edit]