Welcome to the home of the Townsend-Warner History Prize. This national competition was started 136 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 unprecedented events of 2021 featuring Covid-19 and assorted lockdowns greatly affected schools, and forced us to delay the dates for the Townsend-Warner History Prize to March 22nd for Paper 1 and May 24th for Paper 2.
We were thrilled that all went well with over 1,000 boys and girls completing Paper 1 and only six of the 255 who qualified were unavailable for Paper 2.
One Head of History wrote:

‘Thank you so much to you, Hugh Thompson and Alastair Cook for running this competition again, particularly this year. There was not much to look forward to at long stages during lockdowns and the impacts of the pandemic as a whole and so this was a definite 'light at the end of the tunnel.'

Our school is never a 'grand achiever' in this competition but even if we get one or two candidates through it is a real boost to them and for history as a whole in the school.’

The standard was very high, and the prizes were shared among a good variety of schools. The top ten winners came from nine different schools with only Homefield represented twice. We also had two schools winning the prizes that had never been on the honours board before – Cothill with the individual winner and Feltonfleet with the team prize.

From: The Administrator, AH Beadles, Chaff Barn, Compton Pauncefoot, Yeovil, Somerset. 01963 440461


The first fifty candidates receive generous prizes, in 2021 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, for instance, a record of eighty-one schools contributed 1037 scripts for that 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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