West Downs School

West Downs School

West Downs School, Romsey Road, Winchester, Hampshire, was an English preparatory school, which was established in 1897 and closed in 1988.


The school was founded by Lionel Helbert (1870-1919), an half-Jewish exhibitioner of both Winchester and Oriel College, Oxford, and for over four years a House of Commons clerk. He was supported financially by Lord Rothschild and Lord Northbrook. Its buildings had been purpose-built for Winchester Modern School to designs by the architect John William Simpson on a good site on the south-western edge of the cathedral city of Winchester, nearly opposite a Victorian county gaol, HMP Winchester, and next to Edwin Hillier's nursery, established there in 1874.

In 1953 it was purchased by Jerry Cornes, who was headmaster to 1988.

For most of its history West Downs was a boarding school for boys aged between eight and thirteen, but in 1970 it admitted its first girl, and from 1975 to 1988 it was co-educational.

West Downs was a rigorous and enlightened place which prepared its pupils admirably for a variety of schools (including Winchester and Eton) and also for life in general. It lasted ninety-one years and about three headmasters, closing in 1988.

The school's site has lived on as "The West Downs Conference and Performing Arts Centre", which was opened by Lord Puttnam in May 2001, and since 2005 has been part of the University of Winchester.

ome alumni

::About 2,100 pupils passed through West Downs, including the following:(See also .)

*Richard Addis (journalist and former Anglican monk)
*Anthony Gibbs, 5th Baron Aldenham & Vicary Gibbs, 6th Baron Aldenham
*David Astor, CH (newspaper proprietor & editor of The Observer)
*William Astor, 3rd Viscount Astor (peer)
*Giles Baring (cricketer)
*Sir Malcolm Barclay-Harvey (Governor of South Australia)
*Robert Boscawen (politician)
*Sir Frederick "Boy" Browning (Lieutenant-General and husband of Daphne du Maurier)
*Gerald Bucknall (Lieutenant-General)
*John Crichton-Stuart, 6th Marquess of Bute, KBE
*Sir John Colville (Churchill's secretary)
*Michael Colvin (politician)
*Anthony Duckworth-Chad
*Robert, 12th Earl Ferrers & Robin, 13th Earl Ferrers (statesman)
*Sir Francis Festing (Field Marshal)
*Sir Edward Ford (courtier)
*Arthur Grey Hazlerigg, 2nd Baron Hazlerigg (cricketer)
*Peter Howell (actor)
*Richard Ingrams (editor of Private Eye)
*Wayland Young, 2nd Lord Kennet (politician)
*Malcolm, Lord McCorquodale (politician)
*Anthony, 6th Lord Methuen
*Terence O'Neill, Lord O'Neill of the Maine (statesman, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland)
*Victor Montagu (disclaimed the Earldom of Sandwich & politician)
*Hughie Morrison (Racehorse Trainer, (current) )
*Sir Jeremy Morse (Chancellor of University of Bristol, Chairman of Lloyds Bank)
*Sir Oswald Mosely, 6th Bart (controversial politician)
* Simon Ould, (celebrated Hackney artist within the Decima gallery purlieu)
*John Rathbone (politician and RAFVF WW2 fighter pilot, killed in action)
*Nicholas Ridley, Lord Ridley of Liddesdale (politician)
*Lord Duncan-Sandys, CH (politician)
*Sir Peter Scott, CH, FRS (naturalist)
*Andrew Selous (politician)
*Sir Roger Makins, Lord Sherfield, FRS (diplomat)
*Christopher, Lord Soames, CH (statesman)
*Admiral Sir William Stavely (First Sea Lord)
*Lt the Hon. "Bim" Edward Wyndham Tennant (killed in action, WW1 war poet)
*Nicholas Lowther, Viscount Ullswater (peer and courtier)
*John Grimston, 7th Earl of Verulam (financier)


*Nowell Smith (ed), "Memorials of Lionel Helbert, Founder and Head of West Downs Winchester", London, Oxford University Press, Humphrey Milford, 1926.
*Mark Hichens, "West Downs – A Portrait of an English Prep School", Pentland Press, 1992.

External links

* [http://www.westdowns.com Old West Downs Society]
* [http://www.winchester.ac.uk/?page=3013 As part of the University of Winchester]

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