Welcome to the home of the Townsend-Warner History Prize. This national competition was started 139 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 some from abroad.

Details about entry are on page 3 of the website under ‘Entry Requirements’.

Dr Gerard Silverlock, formerly Headmaster of King’s College, Wimbledon Junior School, took over as Administrator from August 2022.

All enquiries should be addressed to Gerard at:            

Dr Gerard Silverlock, Tarragon, 55 Close Lane, Alsager, Cheshire ST7 2JS

Mobile: 07983 669652 Tel: 01270 480217 Email:



Imaad Nasir

Arnold House
— 2023 —



In 2023 the first fifty candidates received generous prizes to a total of  £1,152, and the next fifty one were 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 2023, for instance, seventy-two schools contributed 1,142 scripts for the 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.

Cargilfield-Preparatory-School-7O7A9128-Photograph-by-Angus-Bremner(C) IMG_8349


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


What People Say

The Townsend Warner History Prize motivates many of our top historians to read more, think more, and learn more History. They enjoy having a focused reason for finding out more about the past in their spare time. The Prize helps broaden pupils’ horizons in understanding what a wide-ranging and fascinating subject History is, and the annual competition raises the profile of History within the school community. 

Head of History

St Paul’s Juniors

Preparing for the Townsend-Warner I learnt much more about great swathes of history, but the most important thing it taught me was the importance of arguing clearly and concisely, instead of merely attempting to show off. Winning it, however, was rather gratifying.

Previous Winner

St. Paul’s Juniors

I’ve been involved with the Townsend Warner competition for many years now although we have only started to take part more recently. It is a super challenge to extend our more able children but also suits the passionate historian – not unusual amongst twelve and thirteen year old children.The first round encourages a wider knowledge of history; the second round extends children further with more advanced skills. Our children have really enjoyed taking part and one or two have made it a particular focus of theirs.



The boys eagerly await the results of the prize each year. It’s a great chance to test their knowledge and find out if they know their Hastings from their Henry VIII

Head of History


Every year our boys really enjoy taking part in the competition and it is a badge of honour to be chosen to participate. The combination of the two papers allows pupils to demonstrate their knowledge of British and world history, as well as to focus on specific areas of history that are of interest to them. These are often historical themes and events which, due to the constraints of a syllabus, are not always covered in lessons. Most importantly it encourages great enthusiasm for the subject and any prize or commendation awarded is warmly applauded at prize giving. Long may the Townsend-Warner continue. 


Summer Fields

The Townsend-Warner History Prize provides a wonderful opportunity for pupils to display their general historical knowledge and explore particular interests. We regularly have large numbers keen to sit the Papers and pupils await the results of both rounds with tremendous anticipation.It is a cleverly devised competition where individual performance is celebrated but every boy also contributes to the whole school’s result. The competition is the pinnacle of the History Department’s year and certainly enhances our curriculum. 

Head of History

Westminster Under

Scroll to Top