Mill Hill School

Mill Hill School
MHS crest.gif
Established 1807
Type Independent
Headmaster Dr Dominic Luckett
Location The Ridgeway
Mill Hill Village
Gender Co-educational
Ages 13–18
Website Mill Hill School

Mill Hill School, in Mill Hill, London, is a coeducational independent school for boarding and day pupils aged 13–18. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, an organisation of public schools in the United Kingdom.

The Good Schools Guide called the school "A well-balanced school" which "suits a busy, engaged child happy to try out a wide range of activities and use all the facilities."[1]

Dr. Dominic Luckett became headmaster at the start of the 2007–2008 academic year. He was previously deputy headmaster of Worth School. He succeeded William R Winfield, MA.

The site was once the estate of Ridgeway House, significant in the history of British botany.

The two hundredth anniversary of the school was celebrated in 2007 by the publication of 'Strikingly Alive', The History of the Mill Hill School Foundation 1807–2007 by School Historian, Roderick Braithwaite; the school's Archivist is Dr. Pamela Johnson.



As with many independent schools, Mill Hill School is divided into houses. These are:

  • Boarding Houses
    • Burton Bank - Named to commemorate its original position on Burton Hole Lane
    • Collinson - Named after Peter Collinson who once owned what is now the estate
    • Ridgeway - The name of Collinson's original house on the site
  • Day houses
    • Atkinson - Named after the first Headmaster, the Reverend J Atkinson
    • McClure - Named after Sir John McClure, Headmaster at the turn of the 20th century
    • Murray - Named in honour of teacher and originator of the Oxford English Dictionary; who began compiling his dictionary while a master at Mill Hill
    • Priestley - Named after Headmaster Thomas Priestley
    • School House - Named after Tite's famous building constructed in the 1820s
    • Weymouth - Named after Headmaster Dr R Weymouth
    • Cedars - Named in honour of the cedars planted by Peter Collinson

Winterstoke House was re-purposed as Grimsdell Pre-preparatory School in 1995.


A committee of Nonconformist merchants and ministers, including John Pye Smith, founded the school[2] for boys only in 1807. They located it outside the boundary of London because of "dangers both physical and moral, awaiting youth while passing through the streets of a large, crowded and corrupt city". The school is therefore located in peaceful, secure and rural surroundings, yet by today's standards very close to Central London.

Mill Hill School occupies a 120-acre (0.49 km2) site, part of which formed the gardens of Ridgeway House, the house of botanist Peter Collinson. Collinson was one of the most important importers of rare and exotic plants into English gardens. Many of the species that he introduced to Mill Hill in the 18th Century continue to flourish today in the grounds of the School. Britain's first hydrangea was planted adjacent to School House by Collinson in 1746.

The estate was purchased by the botanist Richard Salisbury in 1802, Ridgeway House became the setting for the beginning of a long running scientific dispute between the new owner and his guest, James Edward Smith.[3] The flora of Mill Hill was also supplemented by the work of amateur botanist Richard William Bowry Buckland (died 1947), governor of the foundation from 1878 to 1889, who cultivated a garden in the south-west of the school's grounds for the enjoyment of future generations as detailed in his diary.

"In years bygone I pray to thee, This willow here, my legacy, As I have sat, pray sit thee. In shaded splendour, Millhillians; rest hither." Richard Buckland

In 1939, Mill Hill School's premises were taken over by the British government and the school was evacuated to St. Bees School in Cumberland for the duration of the Second World War, leading to the naming of the exclusively female extension of Collinson House after it. A St Bees Association was also founded in commemoration of this period of evacuation in the school's history by Michael Berry OBE and David Smith.[4]

Mill Hill first admitted Sixth Form girls in 1975 and became fully co-educational in 1997.

The BBC news website usually uses a picture taken at Mill Hill School for articles about Boarding Schools.[5][6]

In 2005 the school was one of fifty of the country's leading private schools which were found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel, exposed by The Times, which had allowed them to drive up fees for thousands of parents.[7] Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £10,000 and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling three million pounds into a trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period in respect of which fee information was shared.[8]



Unveiled in 1896, the School Chapel is a basilica in form. The architect was Basil Champneys, well-known for his work at Oxford and Winchester College.

School House

Designed by Sir William Tite, famous for his work on the London Royal Exchange, School House was erected in 1825 and is described as being in the Greco-Roman style.

Boarding houses

Although the number of day pupils has risen over recent years, boarding at Mill Hill is still central to the life of the School.

Faculties and other

The School occupies a number of buildings within its site of both modern and traditional styling.

Bicentennial and sesquicentennial celebrations

The school celebrated its bicentenary year during 2007. To honour this landmark in the school's history a service was held at St Paul's Cathedral. Additionally, the school held the visit of HRH Countess of Wessex to officially open the school's new Favell building. An Acer fremanii was planted in her honour adjacent to the School House garden.

The school was also visited by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on its 150th anniversary in 1957. This was commemorated by the planting of a Cedar on Top Terrace (the grassed area in front of the School house portico), in her honour.


The school is run by the Mill Hill School Foundation,[9] a registered charity under English law.[10] The foundation offers education to boys and girls aged 3 to 18 in three schools. The foundation's other schools are:

  • Belmont School - a day school for pupils aged 7 – 13. Head: Mrs Lynn Duncan BSc
  • Grimsdell - a pre-preparatory day school for pupils aged 3 – 7. Head: Mrs Pauline E R Bennett-Mills, Cert Ed


Mill Hill School has a large range of sports. Traditionally the main school sport has been Rugby Union, whose colours are chocolate brown and white. Notable events in recent rugby history include:

  • 1993 Winners of Middlesex Cup
  • 1994 Tour to South Africa and Australia, Ben Levenstein England Schools U-18s
  • 1995 Peter Mensah England A
  • 1997 Adrian Flavin England Schools U-18s
  • 1999 Gerald Arasa England U-21s
  • 2000 Tour to South Africa, Winners of the Middlesex Cup
  • 2003 Tour to Australia and Fiji, the most successful to date
  • 2004 Finalists of the Middlesex Cup
  • 2005 Tour to Canada
  • 2007 Tour to New Zealand
  • 2007 Winners of Middlesex Cup
  • 2007 Visit of South Africa Rugby team to Mill Hill School
  • 2008 1st XV complete an unbeaten season
  • 2008 Winners of Middlesex Cup
  • 2009 Winners of Middlesex Cup

Notable alumni

James Murray

The most prominent former member of staff was James Murray, third editor of a new English Dictionary, that was to become the Oxford English Dictionary.

In preparation for the work ahead Murray built a corrugated-iron shed in the grounds of Mill Hill School, called the Scriptorium.

A building called the Murray Scriptorium still stands on the school grounds, however this is not the same building as the original.

One of the school's houses, Murray, is named after him.

The Patrick Troughton Theatre

In honour of Patrick Troughton the Mill Hill theatre was dedicated to the actor and named the Patrick Troughton Theatre in 2007.


Further reading

  • Roderick Braithwaite. "'Strikingly Alive', The History of the Mill Hill School Foundation 1807–2007"; published Phillimore & Co.

ISBN: 9781860773303

External links

Official sites

Independent Schools Council links

Other external links

Coordinates: 51°37′08″N 0°13′50″W / 51.6190°N 0.2305°W / 51.6190; -0.2305

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