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 the 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 as English master the actor Anthony Corfield, who sustained an active programme in Drama for more than thirty years. 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 and, in 2008, the school merged with Malvern College prep school, on The Downs' existing site. 

In September 2009, Alastair Cook was appointed as Headmaster. 

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 Badgers, 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.

Events and News

The society holds an annual Downian Day reunion, hosted by the school. The format can vary from year to year, but it is usually on a Saturday during the Summer term so that society members can see various hobbies in action, as well as visiting the archive room. Members are encouraged to attend in the society's AGM, which precedes a buffet or picnic lunch. We are also hoping to resurrect the tradition of a cricket match on the day in which society members, current parents and teachers - and indeed anyone connected with the school - are invited to participate.

An annual newsletter is circulated electronically to society members, provided their current email addresses are on the membership database. Members can opt to receive a hard copy of the newsletter by post, subject to a small charge to cover print and postage costs. In addition to articles relating to the school and its pupils and teachers past and present, the newsletter is a means for members to share updates with their friends and contemporaries at the school.


The society's current secretary is Henry Winstanley (OD 1978-84), contactable by email at, and by post 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 for/request copies of the society newsletter,
- enquire about/arrange access to/provide material for the archive,
- enquire about society events.

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).

The school always gives a warm welcome visits to former pupils. If you let the School Secretary know beforehand (Pam Hill, 01684 544100, she will be happy to arrange for you to be shown around school. Queries about The Downs Malvern can be addressed during term time 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.