Our History

Formerly the home of Ralph Allen (1693 – 29 June 1764), the beautiful Mansion is at the core of the Prior Park community. Set within a large estate overlooking the World Heritage City of Bath, the view from the Mansion to the Palladian Bridge is truly inspiring. A well reputed and memorable place to attend school.

"A teenage boy stands quietly looking out over a valley. It might seem a strange sight for the twenty-first century but indeed he stops and looks. If it is May he is rewarded by the yellow-greens of spring and the smell of all-pervading wild garlic. His eyes move, as they are meant to, down to the Palladian Bridge and beyond the ponds to the little church of St Thomas of Canterbury, with Widcombe Manor on its left and Crowe Hall on its right, and beyond that to the curvaceous crescents of Bath, with a glimpse of the Royal Crescent way out on the left and the solid squatting Abbey in the middle. All around are the hills encircling the city. If he is lucky the scene will be completed with the presence of cows in the valley and a buzzard hovering above. This is the landscape, which a former pupil of the College, the poet Peter Levi, called his father’s ‘mysterious gift’ to him. It is, wrote another pupil, ‘an education in itself to look daily upon such sights as these’." by Peter Cornwell

The buildings and grounds spread from this centrepiece, over a 57 acre site. The school was originally run by the Clifton Diocese and then by the Christian Brothers but has been under lay management since 1980 and co-educational since 1982. The pupil body of 600 is one of the most successful Catholic independent boarding and day schools in the South West of England.

The Landscape Gardens, which were once part of the site, are now owned by the National Trust. The garden is set in a sweeping valley where visitors can enjoy magnificent views of Bath. The gardens feature a stunning Palladian bridge, one of only four in the world of this design, which was created in the 18th century by Ralph Allen, with advice from 'Capability' Brown and the poet Alexander Pope.

Former pupils of Prior Park can also keep up to date with past graduate successes and Alumni events through the Alumni website. If you wish to support the ongoing upkeep of such an important historic building and teaching establishment then please see the Development page for further details.

The Palladian Bridge in Prior Park Gardens