History of Prior Park College

Extract from 'The Phoenix' - a history of Prior Park written by Father Peter Cornwell, former College Chaplain.

"Prior Park College was born in the nineteenth century, the dream of a Benedictine Bishop, Peter Augustine Baines. He believed that as the Catholic Church re-emerged from years of persecution it needed educated priests and an educated laity. It was a wildly ambitious scheme, embracing not just a school but a seminary and university as well, housed in the glorious Palladian Mansion built by Ralph Allen overlooking Bath"

1735 The foundations for the Mansion and the wings were laid
1737 The west wing (St Paul's) and part of the Mansion were completed
1743 The Prior Park buildings were finished
1764 Ralph Allen died at Prior Park
1829 The Prior Park Estate (over 168 acres) was purchased by Bishop Baines for £22,000
1836 The interior of the mansion was destroyed by fire
1830 Prior Park College opened as a school for the first time
1844 Foundation stone of the College Chapel was laid by Bishop Baggs
1856 The College effects were auctioned off and the College closed down
1867 Pupils and Staff of Catholic Grammar School, Clifton moved to Bath and Prior Park College reopened
1882 College Chapel solemnly opened for divine service
1889 The swimming bath was formerly opened by Bishop Clifford
1895 The College was taken over by the Christian Brothers on a 7 year lease
1902 The Christian Brothers left
1904 Prior Park closed down again
1921 The buildings and 53 acres were purchased by the Christian Brothers
1924 Boarders and some staff from St Brendan's were transferred to Bath and Prior Park re-opened
1929 The Prior Park Association was re-founded
1932 The organ gallery was added to the College Chapel
1940 The new school block was completed and requisitioned by the Admiralty
1942 St Paul's was badly damaged by bombs
1946 Prior Park Preparatory School was founded at Cricklade
1949 Formation of the College Contingent of the Combined Cadet Force
1957-59 The Science School was built with a grant from Industrial Fund for the Advancement of Science Teaching
1965 New VIth form block linking Science School and School Block was completed
1965 The Priory was purchased for eventual school use
1966 Restoration of Mansion steps and balustrade was completed
1973 An all-weather hockey pitch was completed
1974 The Br. Burke Memorial Pavilion was completed
1981 Christian brothers left the College and lay administration took over the administration
1983 Girls joined the College
1991 The second catastrophic fire took hold of the Mansion and caused massive destruction



Julian Slade Theatre opens

Victorian Ball Court restored

All weather Astro pitch completed

1995 Mansion reopens after major rebuild completed
2007 Mackintosh Dance Studio opens
2009 The addition of Baines House (11-13yr olds)
2014 The Creative Design Centre opens in St Peter's

Bury Sports Centre opens

Restoration of the Mansion steps - lower flight 



Prior Park Schools, Gibraltar opens

 Prior Park Preparatory School is sold to Wishford Group

2020 23 March LOCKDOWN and closure due to the Covid-19 Pandemic world crisis