We are extremely proud of the history of Durlston School and it is important for future generations that “Old Durlstonians” have a place to share memories and have the opportunity to keep up to date with events at Durlston.



  • 1903Durlston Court Preparatory School was founded by Mr G.T. Atkinson. In its first year, 23 boys attended Durlston Court School, which opened as a boarding school at Durlston Head, Swanage, Dorset. The school's crest of an Imperial Roman Eagle and the motto 'Erectus Non Elatus' (Proud but not Boastful) were first introduced.
  • 1926 - Pat Cox became a co-partner and upon the retirement of Mr Atkinson at the age of 73 years, he became Headmaster until 1965.
  • 1938 - The independent school grew in size to 65 boarders. The school had also purchased additional sports grounds. In addition to sports, the school has had a long tradition of drama productions which began at this time.
  • 1940 - At the outbreak of war it was feared that Durlston Head was too close for comfort to a local Radar Station. Consequently the school was moved to Earnshill at Curry Rivel near Taunton in Somerset.
  • 1942 - The school buildings were sold as a convalescent home for Warwickshire Miners, and were also requisitioned by the Army.
  • 1945 - Durlston Court School moved into the vacant Furzie Close School, Barton on Sea.
  • 1947 - The school was devastated by fire. The New Milton Advertiser front page banner headlines stated, “Barton School Fire Drama. Maid loses her life but 82 boys saved.” The maid was Miss Josephine Wood and according to the coroner, “But for the extra-ordinary presence of mind and discipline displayed at the school the most appalling catastrophe might have happened.” The Insurers met the rebuilding costs and a well-known firm of local builders, Drews, commenced the task of raising a new school from the ashes of the old.

Historic photography with Durlston Court students

  • 1965-1982 - Mr Ian Onslow became Headmaster. He introduced girls to the school and formed the Pre-Prep Department. Over the next 18 years there were many other additions to the facilities at Durlston Court including new tennis courts, Science Laboratory, new Art Room and heating for the swimming pool.
  • 1983-1996 - Mr James Seddon became Headmaster. The facilities at Durlston Court School continued to be updated and a further teaching block housing a Library and Computer Centre was opened in 1987.
  • 1996-1998 - Mr Ted Liston arrived as Headmaster. Pupils numbers rose and Boarding Houseparents were introduced.
  • 1998 – 2000 - Mr Desmond Bain took over as Headmaster. Many new developments in the Pre-Prep took place.
  • 2000 - The school closed boarding facilities and re-opened as a Day School. Mr David Wansey was appointed as the new head and the school began its transformation with the aim of becoming the best Prep School in the Hampshire and Dorset area. The building and facilities were much improved and a programme of clubs and hobbies was introduced to enrich and broaden the education offered at Durlston. Pupil numbers began to climb and record numbers were achieved.
  • 2003Centenary Year - Celebrations took place to celebrate 100 years of a happy and successful Durlston Court School. Events included a Centenary Fun Run, Founders Day, A Masked Ball and a celebratory dinner for Old Durlstonians.
  • 2004 - The Governors bought the freehold of the land and buildings ensuring the long-term future and stability of the school. 
  • 2015 - Mr Richard May became Headmaster. Facilities at Durlston were further extended to include a Design Technology Centre equipped with 3D printers, laser cutter and laptops, a Ceramics Studio and Outdoor Art Terrace and multi-purpose hard courts for tennis, hockey, football and netball.


​​​​​2023 - 'Durlston Prep and Senior School' welcomed the first Year 9 pupils as the school extends to 16, allowing pupils current and new, to continue their education to Year 11 and GCSE examinations.

Present Day - Durlston continues to grow and expand facilities, moving forward with ongoing requirements of a modern school without losing the strong tradition of the school's history. 

Historic photography with Durlston Court students

Are you an Old Durlstonian?

If you attended Durlston School we would love to hear from you and to keep in touch. 

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