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 57 acre site overlooking the World Heritage City of Bath, the view from the Mansion to the Palladian Bridge in the landscaped gardens below, is truly inspiring. A memorable place to attend school.
Ralph Allen was the deputy postmaster of Bath during which time he devised a system for transporting mail known as 'cross posts', the profits from which were the basis of his fortune. With an eye on the expansion of housing activity he opened stone quarries in Combe Down and made his second fortune, supplying stone to Bath, Bristol and even London. It was when his stone was turned down for Greenwich Hospital that he decided to prove its worth by building Prior Park, "To see all Bath, and for all Bath to see".
He turned to John Wood The Elder to design the house, which was completed in 1741. Ralph Allen lived there until his death, during which time he was host to many famous literary and political figures of the day including Alexander Pope and William Pitt.
After Allen's death, the house passed through several hands until in 1829 the estate was bought by Roman Catholic Bishop Augustine Baines, who established a seminary and a school for boys. In 1830 Prior Park College opened as a school for the first time.
The College Chapel was built in the 1870's and designed by Joseph Scoles in the tradition of a Roman Basilica. Named Our Lady of the Snows, some parts were never completed, such as the columns at the western end.
There have been two major fires during the Mansion's history. The first in 1836 gutted the Mansion which Bishop Baines restored, purchasing the fittings - doors, staircases and neo-classical plasterwork - from nearby Hunstrete House which was being demolished. In 1991 tragedy struck again when the Mansion was once more gutted by fire. Restoration work took four years to complete and cost £6M.
The school was originally run by the Clifton Diocese and then by the Christian Brothers, but has been under lay management since 1981 and co-educational since 1983.
In 2006, The Paragon joined Prior Park Schools. Prior Park School Gibraltar was established in 2016.