Colston's School

Colston's School
Colston's School
Motto Go and do thou likewise
Established 1710
Type Independent
Headmaster Peter Fraser
Head of Lower School Caroline Aspden
Founder Edward Colston
Location Stapleton, Bristol
BS16 1BJ
Staff 100
Students 828
Gender Mixed
Ages 3–18
Houses Aldington, Dolphin, King's, Roundway
Colours Navy and Gold

Colston's School (formerly known as Colston's Collegiate School) is an independent school in Bristol, England and is a member of the The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

It was founded in 1710 by the philanthropist, Edward Colston as "Colston's Hospital", originally an all-boys boarding school. Day-boys were admitted in 1949 and girls were admitted to the sixth form in 1984. In 1991 it merged with the girls' school "Collegiate School", Winterbourne and was given the name Colston's Collegiate School, but this was reverted to Colston's School, in 2005.[1] The current Headmaster of the Upper School is Peter Fraser.



The school motto Go and do thou likewise, was the motto for the Colston family. It is also one of the mottos for Colston's Girls' School.


Colston made a donation to Queen Elizabeth's Hospital in 1702 and proposed endowing places for a further 50 boys. This came to nothing, probably because of Colston's insistence that the children of Dissenters should be excluded.

Instead, he persuaded the Society of Merchant Venturers to manage a school he established for 50 boys on Saint Augustine's Back, where the Colston Hall now stands. It cost him £11,000 on capital cost and an endowment income of over £1,300. The boys (soon increased to 100) were admitted between the ages of seven and ten years and stayed for seven years. The curriculum covered reading, writing and arithmetic, and the church catechism. On leaving they were to be apprenticed to a trade.

Colston was opposed to Dissent and proposed that any boy who attended a service of worship in any place other than an Anglican church should be expelled. He also told the Merchant Venturers that if they apprenticed a boy to a Dissenter they would be in breach of their Trust.

The school moved in 1861 to the old Bishops' Palace at Stapleton, which has been designated by English Heritage as a grade II listed building,[2] and ceased to be a charity institution with a limited curriculum. It also accepted fee-paying boys as well as the 100 boys on the charity foundation.

From about 1900 it began to be accepted as a public school.

By 1955 the school had 35 foundation scholars, selected by open competition, among its 200 boarders and 100 day boys.


Before the advent of the day-boys there were four boarding houses, North, South, East and West. These were renamed Aldington, Mortlake, Roundway and Beaufort, with Dolphin being the day-boys house. Later, King's was added as an additional day-boys house. Now there are four day houses, one of which each pupil is allocated at the start of their Colston's career:

  • Aldington (Head of House: Mr David Betterton)
  • Dolphin (Head of House: Mr D Kaye)
  • King's (Head of House: Mr Jonathan Gwilliam)(Assistant Head of House: Clare Wyatt)
  • Roundway (Head of House: Mr Darren Nichols)(Assistant Head of House: Miss Dana Drake)

In addition, boys who board at the school are a member of Mortlake, of whom Mr David Mason is the Head of House. Formerly, girl boarders were members of Winterbourne House, before boarding for girls was abolished in 2007. Each house, with the exception of Mortlake, has its own tie: navy with green stripes for Aldington; navy with red and white stripes for Dolphin; navy with emerald and white stripes for King's and navy with maroon stripes for Roundway.

The House Cup is contested by the four day houses using a points system over the course of each academic year. The house with the greatest number of points at the end of that academic year will be awarded the Cup. Points are gained by either the collection of commendations, awarded by teachers for outstanding pieces of work, or through performance in house competitions. Points are deducted for receiving detentions. Sports competitions are played on a round robin basis and divided into three school blocks; Years 7 and 8, Years 9 and 10 and Year 11 and 6th Form. Sports competitions include:

  • Rugby (boys and girls)
  • Hockey (boys and girls)
  • Cricket (boys only)
  • Netball (girls only)
  • Rounders (girls only)
  • Rugby sevens (Year 11 and 6th Form boys only)
  • Cross Country (boys and girls)
  • Athletics (boys and girls)

The biggest house competition in the school calendar is the House Music. Any individual or group of pupils may enter the preliminary round, displaying any kind of musical performance, and all are awarded points for entering. The best performers will advance to the semi-finals, where they perform in front of their entire year, and the winners from this round will advance to the final where they perform in front of the whole school on the final day of the spring term. In addition to this, each of the four houses pick a song two weeks in advance of the final to rehearse and perform as a house. An independent adjudicator is brought in by the school to judge the five house songs and select a winner of the House Song, and to determine the overall winner of the House Music, which is between the four day houses. Victories in either of these competitions have a significant impact on the destination of the House Cup for that year. In 2011, Kings House won the House Song for the first time in 3 years and retained the overall House Music trophy for the sixth consecutive year.

2011 house songs :


Colston modelled his school on Christ's Hospital and the 18th century uniform reflected this - a long blue coat, knee britches and yellow stockings. By the middle of the 20th century this was mirrored by the yellow tops of the knee stockings worn by all boys until they graduated to long trousers at the age of 13. At that time caps were worn whenever a boy left the premises of the school. They were the typical peaked cap with a coloured band round the rim and an embroidered dolphin at the front, the colour reflecting the house the boy belonged to - Dolphin's was maroon, for example.



The school is known for its drama studies, having a well-equipped theatre. It is the only school in Bristol that can offer all 14 GCSE theatre options. There are a number of shows throughout the year across the age range. In May 2010 year 9 students devised and produced their own version of Cinderella which raised just short of £1000 for the charity Barnados.

Cadet Force

The school's Combined Cadet Force (CCF) of 268 cadets, the largest since its formation in 1915, and the biggest in Bristol. The CCF has Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy sections and is compulsory for Year 9. The CCF normally parades every week and carries out activities, including rifle shooting on the school's 15m range, command tasks, climbing, camouflage and concealment, flying, sailing and walking with regular camps.



The school excels in rugby union. It won the Daily Mail Cup at U18 level seven times, including six years in a row between 1995 and 2000, before retiring to concentrate on compiling a fixture list against the best teams domestically and abroad.

Contrary to popular belief, the school was not banned from the competition for "buying in" players, and in fact won the competition in 2000 and 2004 under new regulations that stated only three players joining in the 6th Form could be part of a Daily Mail Cup match squad.

The school had nearly 30 old boys playing in the Guinness Premiership in 2009, more in the Guinness Championship and the other National Divisions, as well as abroad. In March 2006 the school created history by becoming the first school to win both the boys and girls senior tournaments at the Rosslyn Park Schools Sevens Tournament. The school successfully defended both trophies in 2007.

Colston's went on a 14-year undefeated home run against English teams, from 1994 until Hartpury College won in 2008.

The 1st XV's current fixture list puts the school played England and Ireland, including Millfield School, Sedbergh School, Warwick School , Hartpury College, Methodist College and Blackrock College.

Current Professional and Semi-Professional Old Colstonian rugby players

Guinness Premiership

  • Olly Barkley, Duncan Bell, Rob Hawkins, Ryan Davis, Lee Mears, Mike Baxter, Paul Roberts, Nick Scott (Bath Rugby)

French Top 14

Italian Super 10

Welsh Premiership

  • Gareth Knox (Bridgend Ravens)

Guinness Championship

  • Phil Hoy, James Graham, Ryan Owen, Ian Davey (Bedford Blues)
  • Alex Clarke, Ed Barnes, Iain Grieve, Luke Eves, James Phillips, George Watkins, Jack Tovey (Bristol Rugby)
  • Dan Smith (Doncaster)
  • Richard Bignell, Dan Lavery (Moseley)
  • Jon Mills (London Welsh)
  • Gareth Griffiths (Plymouth Albion)

National Division One

  • Phil Greenaway, Ollie Mansbridge (Cinderford)
  • Ryan Westren (Launceston)
  • Gavin Taylor (Manchester)
  • Mitch Burton (Newbury Blues)
  • Scott Morris (Stourbridge)
  • Bryce Titman (Wharfedale)

National Division Two South

  • Liam Chennells (Bridgwater & Albion)

National Division Two North

  • Cameron Brown (Loughborough Students)


Colston's is located at the top of Bell Hill, a road running directly underneath the M32 motorway. The road terminates at Junction 2 of the M32. The school is approximately two miles from the city centre and is close to bus, rail and Bristol International Airport.

Notable former pupils

Former students, known as Old Colstonians, include:

  • Thomas Chatterton, romantic poet and child prodigy
  • Peter Mathias, Former Master of Downing College, Cambridge
  • Alan Morley MBE, holder of world record for tries scored in first class rugby union and current board member at Bristol Rugby
  • Jack Spoors, British Isles international rugby player
  • Robert Syms, Conservative MP for Poole, Dorset
  • Robert Walter, Conservative MP for North Dorset


  1. ^ History Colston's School website. Retrieved 20 February 2007
  2. ^ "Colston School, former Bishop's Palace". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 

Further reading

  • Roger Wilson, Chapter 22, "Bristol's School", in Bristol and its Adjoining Counties, 1955

External links

Coordinates: 51°28′50″N 2°33′19″W / 51.4806°N 2.5554°W / 51.4806; -2.5554

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