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.

The 2021 Prize
The following email was sent to all participating schools.
I emailed everyone on January 1st putting the date for Paper 1 back to January 19th.
That has been quickly made impracticable by the recent announcement of a lockdown.
We are not rushing into announcing definite further dates immediately and this is therefore just a holding email.
We are considering putting Paper 1 on the date for Paper 2 – Monday February 22nd – and then finding a date at the start of the Summer Term for Paper 2. Our two examiners are happy with this.
However, it may be that the present lockdown will be expanded, given the uncertainties about the spread of Covid-19.
We may then try to find dates in the Summer Term.
The large entry this year encourages us to do everything possible to find time for the two papers and the marking.
One benefit is that I now have all emails on my Contacts and can email everyone rapidly. That means that I can publish the results of Paper 1 as soon as they are marked.
I have already had useful thoughts – and much encouragement - from some schools, and welcome further communication.
I will be in touch when the situation becomes clearer.
Tony Beadles



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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