Kimbolton School

Coordinates: 52°17′44″N 0°23′14″W / 52.295685°N 0.387359°W / 52.295685; -0.387359
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Kimbolton School
, ,
PE28 0EA

Coordinates52°17′44″N 0°23′14″W / 52.295685°N 0.387359°W / 52.295685; -0.387359
Other nameKimbolton
TypePublic school
Private school
MottoSpes Durat Avorum
(Latin: "May the hopes of our forefathers endure")
Religious affiliation(s)Inter-denominational
Established1600; 423 years ago (1600) (Earliest references from 1531)
FoundersHenry Balye and William Dawson
Department for Education URN110925 Tables
HeadmasterWill Chuter
Age4 to 18
Enrollment1009 [1] (2019)
Capacity1100 [1]
HousesFour in the Preparatory School, five in the Senior School
Purple, black and white
Song(historically) All My Hope on God is Founded
(unofficially) Jerusalem
PublicationThe Kimboltonian
Former pupilsOld Kimboltonians

Kimbolton School is a British HMC co-educational private boarding and day school in the village of Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, England.

There are 1000 students, aged 4 to 18.[2] Boarding and flexi-boarding is available to a limited number of students from the age of 11. There are approximately 700 students in the Senior School, and 300 in the Preparatory School.

Since 1950, the school has occupied Kimbolton Castle (the former seat of the Dukes of Manchester) and its grounds.


The school is the successor to the village grammar school and although there are references to a school at Kimbolton as early as 1531, the generally accepted date for its foundation is 1600. It originally occupied buildings within the churchyard, but moved to new premises in Tilbrook Road in the late 19th century. In 1949 its named was changed 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, while the Preparatory School is based at the other end of the village and connected to the senior school by 'The Duchess Walk', a tree-lined avenue. The school grounds total over 120 acres (49 ha).

The school's Latin motto is: "Spes Durat Avorum" (Let the hope of our forefathers endure).

Former headmasters[edit]

The school has a tradition of long-serving headmasters. Some of its features are named after them:[3][4]

  • Mr. Anderson ~ 1617
  • John Rugby ~ 1635
  • William Rugby ~ 1641
  • Samuel Bird ~ 1653
  • Samuel Taylor ~ 1664
  • John Gardiner ~ 1681
  • Mr. Trott ~ 1686
  • Mr. Crankshaw ~ 1706
  • Matthew Gregory ~ 1716
  • William Wheeler ~ 1739
  • Dr. Owen ~ 1740
  • W. Carr ~ 1757
  • Mr. Boulton (Dates uncertain)
  • John Thompson, 1778–1826
  • John Bligh, 1827–1842
  • James Taylor, 1842–1847
  • John Thornton, 1847–1854
  • Robert Watson, 1854–1865
  • William Ager, 1865–1877
  • Robert Kater Vinter, 1877–1884
  • Edward Ulyat, 1884–1891
  • Arthur Bibby, 1891–1913
  • William Ingram, 1913–1947 (after whom the 1st and 2nd form house 'Ingrams' is now named)
  • Cyril Lewis, 1947–1973 (oversaw the movement of the school to the Castle, and after whom the school's theatre/assembly hall is named)
  • David Donaldson, 1973–1987 (after whom the original science block (since converted to house geography, textiles and food & nutrition) is named, he also first admitted girls to the school)
  • Roger Peel, 1987–2002 (after whom the sports hall is named)
  • Jonathan Belbin, 2002–2023
  • Will Chuter, 2023–present


Kimbolton School's campus is currently situated upon Kimbolton Castle grounds. This land is in conjunction with some other areas of land owned by the school prior to the purchase of the castle in 1950.

The school's total campus area comes to ~105 acres.

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 reconstruction works 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. These rooms included the main staircase, now called the Pellegrini Staircase, and the chapel. Gilded furnishings in a Louis XIV-inspired style by French upholsterers working in London were also commissioned.

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 6th form and Spanish teaching and also houses staff areas as well as the 6th form common-room.

Most teaching and other activities take place in other buildings, on the school grounds.

The Vanbrugh Library[edit]

The Vanbrugh Library at the Senior School holds over 12,000 books and periodicals.

School structure[edit]

Kimbolton school is divided into sections according to academic year (or Form). Each section of the school have different houses for the different age groups; some of these sections make use of a culturally fitting House system. All pupils are sorted into a house before entry and are able to collect house points and compete in house events such as sports day, and house music competitions.

Preparatory school[edit]

There are 384 pupils (as of the 2021/2022 curricular year) in the Preparatory School (ages 4 to 11), in four houses named after the families that owned the castle: Fitzpiers, Montagu, Stafford and Wingfield. Preparatory school pupils can be identified by their solid purple blazers.[5]

Houses of the Preparatory school (Year 3 - Year 6)
Fitzpiers   Named after one of the original owners of the Castle, Geoffrey Fitz Peter, the then Earl of Essex, during the 13th century.
Montagu   Named after Henry Montagu. Owner of the Castle in the 17th century.
Stafford   Named after one of the original owners of the Castle, Ann Stafford, widow of the Duke of Buckingham, in the mid-15th century.
Wingfield   Named after the Wingfield family, most notably Edward Maria Wingfield, owners of the Castle in the 16th century.

Senior school[edit]

There are around 700 students in the senior school, aged 11 to 18. This includes the sixth form.


A house originally for boarders, Ingrams, was merged with Dawsons in the 1980s. Ingrams was later revived as a separate house for all First Form and Second Form pupils (these pupils are now colloquially referred to as "Ingrams"). Ingrams compete in a separate House competition to the rest of the senior school. As opposed to between houses, the students compete between classes, they have many of the same events as the senior houses.

Ingrams House (1st and 2nd form)
Ingrams   Named after a former headmaster, William Ingram.


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. Uniform differentiating the senior school from the rest of the school includes–most notably–black, purple and white striped blazers. Middles pupils are pupils in 3rd form - 5th form (the middles houses are still used in sixth form).[6]

Houses of the Senior school (3rd form - 6th form)
Balyes   Named after one of the founders of the school, Henry Balye.
Dawsons   Named after one of the founders of the school, William Dawson. The House motto is Domus Aurea ('golden house').
Gibbards   Named after a former Master of the school.
Owens   Named after a former Master at the school. The house mascot being a Phoenix, which is emblazoned on the House flag.

Sixth form[edit]

Sixth Form students all wear solid-black suits. Upper Sixth formers are also permitted to choose their own coloured jumpers and, for male pupils, ties.[7]


The boarding houses are situated on Kimbolton High Street. The boy's boarding house, 'Kimbolton House', is by the top of the High Street, while the girl's boarding house, 'White House', is at the bottom, opposite the church.[8]

All of the boarders eat together in the Dining Hall, and attend Chapel services fortnightly.

Notable former pupils[edit]

Old Kimboltonians Association[edit]

The Old Kimboltonians' Association (OKA) provides a network between former students of the school. This usually manifests social events, sports fixtures and annual reunions.


  1. ^ a b "Kimbolton School". UK Government. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Kimbolton School - GOV.UK". Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  3. ^ "School Maps". Kimbolton School. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  4. ^ Lewis, Cyril (1950). Kimbolton School, 1600-1950. Kimbolton, England: Kimbolton School. p. 25.
  5. ^ "Prep School Uniform Years 3 - 6". Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Senior School Uniform Forms 1-5". Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Senior School Uniform, Sixth Form". Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  8. ^ "School Maps". Kimbolton School. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  9. ^ Elizabeth Hageman, Katherine Conway, Resurrecting Elizabeth I in Seventeenth-century England (2007), p. 73
  10. ^ "Alexandra Pollard".
  11. ^ Garry Humphreys, John Whitworth: Celebrated countertenor, in The Independent, 15 September 2013, accessed 20 June 2020

External links[edit]