Welcome to the home of the Townsend-Warner History Prize. This national competition was started 135 years ago and is one of the oldest institutions in the preparatory school world. It has proved enduringly popular in encouraging the study of history. It is not linked to any national testing or examinations, but aims to provoke interest and delight in historical reading, facts and analysis.

It regularly produces winners of remarkable calibre, writing history of much flair and knowledge. Around 1,000 candidates participate each year from schools all over the UK and from a few schools from abroad.

New dates for 2021
This was sent by email to all 67 participating schools on 18th February

The Townsend-Warner History Prize 2021

Please would Heads make certain that, if necessary, this message is passed on to the Head of History, although I have emailed many.
February 18th 2021
I emailed everyone on January 6th with a holding email over the dates for the 2021 Prize.
I have consulted 12 selected Heads and Heads of History since then about the possible options and they have been most helpful.
As it appears that children will be back in school from 8th March, I announce the following dates, using the end of the Easter Term and the week just before the Summer half term:
PAPER 1 – MONDAY 22nd MARCH 2021
PAPER 2 – MONDAY 24th MAY 2021
We are, in special cases, happy to allow a school to use a date within a day or two of these dates if there is a serious clash – but please let me know!

The other option was to use the start of the Summer Term – Thursday April 22nd -and the date after half term – Wednesday June 9th or Thursday June 10th.
However, there would be a clash in that first week in April with some Senior school scholarship examinations which would knock out some candidates. Some pointed out that after half term activities for the senior pupils could intervene – although perhaps less this year than in other years. If something happens to make the March date impossible, we can always fall back on these dates.

All the 67 participating schools were sent the appropriate copies of Paper 1 on December 30th 2020 in envelopes with a large blue label headed ’Townsend-Warner History Prize.’ If any school has not got these papers, please first search the Head’s office and then contact me immediately.

Many schools have said that they are delighted that we are going ahead with this. I hope that it will all work out without too many problems.
Our two examiners, Alastair Cook and Hugh Thompson, are happy with the new dates.
Tony Beadles
From: The Administrator, AH Beadles, Chaff Barn, Compton Pauncefoot, Yeovil, Somerset. 01963 440461


The first fifty candidates receive generous prizes, in 2020 to a total of over £1,100, and the next fifty are sent cards of commendation.

Join the growing number of schools participating

The prize is open to schools affiliated to IAPS - the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools. A growing number of schools take part. In 2020 a record of eighty-one schools contributed 1037 scripts for this year’s Paper 1.

The Prize encourages students to enjoy the study of history and its variety and challenges, and to use their knowledge at a national competitive level. Every year the schools involved eagerly await the Townsend-Warner History Prize.



The Prize consists of two papers, the first to be completed in January near the start the Easter Term, the second in late February just after half-term.

Paper 1 has 100 questions demanding one-word, or one-sentence, answers from world history, but with a strong emphasis on British history. Many are straightforward, some a little more obscure. Two hundred and fifty candidates qualify from Paper 1 to sit Paper 2. This is in the form of essay questions, but allows candidates a very wide choice so that they can write on what they know, but also show analytical skill and historical imagination


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