Founded in 1900

The Downs School at Colwall was founded in 1900 by Herbert Jones. He had been educated in Cambridge and was Headmaster at Leighton Park School when he and his wife Ethel Jones founded The Downs as a preparatory school for boys. It opened with four pupils and slowly expanded, having 40 pupils in 1918.

The Joneses were Quakers, and The Downs was unusual in being originally a Quaker school. The Downs was also unusual in pioneering the inclusion of extra-curricular activities, such as music and hobbies, for its pupils. This innovation would eventually spread into mainstream preparatory schools.

In 1920 the Joneses left and were succeeded by the second master, Geoffrey Hoyland. He arrived at the school with his wife Elsie Dorothea Cadbury. They used the Cadbury family's wealth to expand and improve the school during his tenure as Headmaster. Geoffrey Hoyland built new buildings, introduced student self-government and an innovative curriculum with an emphasis on science and the arts. It was under his supervision that the pupils built the miniature railway, the only one in any English school at the time and which is still in use today. Whilst Headmaster, Geoffrey Hoyland employed the painter Maurice Feild and the poet W. H. Auden as teachers at the school.

Frazer Hoyland succeeded his brother Geoffrey as Headmaster in 1940. He increased the school's emphasis on music and drama. Shortly after the war, the poet James Kirkup taught at the school for four terms and wrote his first collection there.

William Vaughan Berkley became Headmaster in 1952 and remained until 1969. In 1957, he appointed the actor Anthony Corfield, who sustained an active programme in Drama for more than thirty years, to the position of English master. James Brown, who had been assistant head to Berkley, became Headmaster in 1969. He wrote the history of the school, 'The First Five' (meaning the first five headmasters), published in 1988. Brown was succeeded as Headmaster by Christopher Syers-Gibson, D. H. M. Dalrymple, Ian Murphy, Andrew Auster, J. Griggs, and, in 1999, Christopher Black.

By the end of the twentieth century the school had become co-educational and included a nursery, kindergarten and pre-prep as well as the original preparatory school.

Alastair Ramsay became the next headmaster in 2001 and, in 2008, the school merged with Malvern College Prep School, on The Downs' existing site. During this time of expansion, a new sports centre and classroom block was built from the proceeds of the merger.

In September 2009, the baton was passed to Alastair Cook who oversaw a period of further investment and modernisation until his retirement in 2022. Close links between Malvern College and the prep school were forged. Andrew Nuttall was appointed as his replacement and now leads the school into an exciting new chapter.

The Downian Society

The Downian Society draws its membership from former pupils of the school and is open to anyone who has attended any of the three schools which eventually merged to become The Downs Malvern.


The Downian Society is open to anyone who has attended The Downs Colwall, Hillstone, or Malvern College Prep. Honorary membership is also offered to members of staff from these schools when they leave. The current Headmaster, staff, pupils, Governors and parents are keen to build on much of the history that the three founding schools and their communities have established, whilst continuing to innovate and improve. The society currently has well over 1000 members.


The archives have recently been rehoused in the main school building, and cataloguing is still underway. We always welcome additions (donations) to our already extensive archives, particularly copies of The Badger, as we no longer have a complete set. We also do not have copies of Newsletters prior to 2014, and these could form an interesting addition.


The school always gives a warm welcome to visits from former pupils. Please contact the School Office on: 01684 544100 or: and we will be happy to arrange for you to be shown around the school. Queries about The Downs Malvern can be addressed to the Headmaster: The school also very much welcomes applications for members' children to join the school. In addition to providing a discounted fee rate for children of past pupils, there may be some limited additional bursary funding available for pupils who would otherwise not be able to attend the school.

The society also has an email address which is checked periodically:, and contact by post should be addressed to: The Downian Society, The Downs Malvern, Brockhill Road, Colwall, Worcs., WR13 6EY.

Any past pupils or staff from The Downs Malvern, The Downs Colwall, Hillstone or Malvern College Prep School are very welcome to get in touch to answer queries about the society or its archives, or to:

- join the Downian Society
- provide/update/remove details in the society's membership database
- contribute to/provide news updates

- enquire about/arrange access to/provide material for the archive
- enquire about society events

Downian Society Website:

Downian Society Facebook Page:

For data protection reasons, the society cannot provide information it holds about society members to others, whether members or not, without their express permission. We can therefore only pass on requests to contact members (presuming we hold current contact information).