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Hill House School

Coordinates: 51°29′51″N 0°09′37″W / 51.4975°N 0.1602°W / 51.4975; -0.1602
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Hill House International Junior School


Coordinates51°29′51″N 0°09′37″W / 51.4975°N 0.1602°W / 51.4975; -0.1602
TypePrivate preparatory school
MottoLatin: Semper vigilans (Always vigilant)
English: "A child's mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."
Established1949 (Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland)
1951 (Knightsbridge, London), United Kingdom)
FounderLieutenant-Colonel H. Stuart Townend
Department for Education URN100518 Tables
Head MasterRichard Townend
Staff110 (approx.)
Age4 to 13
Enrolment690 As of January 2018[1]
HousesGrammont, Midi, Naye, and Rosa
Colour(s)Old gold, rust & tan
Former pupilsOld Hill Housers

Hill House International Junior School is an independent preparatory day school primarily in the Knightsbridge district of London. It was founded in September 1949 by athlete and Liberal Party politician Lt-Col Stuart Townend with his wife, Beatrice, initially in Switzerland, but has since also established branches in South West London. It is the largest preparatory school in London and was originally a boys-exclusive school, turning fully coeducational in 1981.[2][3] The school is known for its distinct uniform, which includes thick mustard cable-knit jumpers, rust corduroy knickerbockers, knitted hats, and bags in British racing green.


The school was founded in Switzerland in 1949 and in London in 1951 by Lieutenant-Colonel Townend and his wife, Beatrice. Townend chose his pupils solely on the basis of his approval of their mothers, and women teachers were preferentially chosen according to the height of their skirt's hemline.[4][5] His son, Richard Townend, is the school's current Headmaster. The school remains a family concern.[6][4]

Prince Charles went to Hill House, following advice from Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister at the time.[7] It was his first school and was the first time that an heir to the British throne had been to a civilian school, as princes were educated either by tutors or at a military or naval academy such as Osborne.

As of 2018 there are 690 pupils at the school from the ages of 4 to 13.[1]

Media coverage[edit]

The school was featured in the 1989 documentary episode "Knickerbockers in Knightsbridge", part of the ninth season of the BBC series 40 Minutes, in which school life under Townend is narrated.[8]

The school was outlined on page 74, chapter 3.1 ("Learning to be Sloane: Sloane Education"), of Peter York's and Ann Barr's 1982 guide book The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook as an appropriate calibre of school on the "third rung of the ladder" of a "Sloane boy's" education: describing it, amongst other things, as "Prince Charles's old school. Outdoorsy, musical, for energetic extroverts."

Notable former pupils[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ofsted Report 2018". Ofsted. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Hill House International Junior School profile, reviews and inspection reports | London's Top Schools". Londonpreprep.com. 10 March 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  3. ^ "About the School | Hill House". Hillhouseschool.co.uk. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b Obituary: Lieutenant-Colonel Townend, Daily Telegraph, 2002.
  5. ^ Obituary: Lieutenant-Colonel Townend, The Independent, 2002.
  6. ^ BBC Television Program "Knickerbockers in Knightsbridge", 1989.
  7. ^ "Prince Charles's prep school fights back after damning inspection". Telegraph. 5 December 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Knickerbockers in Knightsbridge". IMDb.
  9. ^ Kate Bowler. "Questions of Meaning with Nicky Gumbel". KateBowler.com. Retrieved 6 May 2024.
  10. ^ Jacob's Ladder: The Unauthorised Biography of Jacob Rees-Mogg. Biteback Publishing. 10 September 2019. ISBN 9781785905315. Retrieved 5 August 2022.

External links[edit]