Lower School Houses

Girls joining us at 11+ or 12+ enter one of the newly built or newly refurbished Lower School Boarding Houses, Hermitage, Hill or Darwin. They will also spend a term immersed in French life and culture at our fourth Lower School House, Veyrines.

Creating a home from home

Girls in the Lower School enter one of the newly built or newly refurbished Lower School Boarding Houses, Hermitage, Hill or Darwin as well as spending a term at our rural farmhouse school in Veyrines, France.

Our aim is to provide the girls with a home away from home and the purpose-built Houses provide a comfortable and tremendously nurturing environment for the transition to boarding school life.  The outstanding specialist pastoral care provided in House is a vital part of a successful start in School, allowing the girls to learn, develop and flourish in a safe and inspiring environment.

The Houses are furnished to the highest standard and provide dormitory accommodation (usually four girls per dorm), prep and learning spaces, sound-proofed music practice rooms, kitchens, common room space and outside play areas alongside accommodation for the Housemistresses and their teams.

The 11+ girls share the Houses with the 12+ girls, allowing them to integrate with and be supported by older age groups from the outset.

At 12+ all girls spend a term in the beautiful Perigord Noir, our fourth Lower School House in the rural community of Veyrines-de-Dommes in France.  This is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Lower School life and is designed to encourage each girl to develop her independence whilst remaining part of a community, as well as improving spoken French in an idyllic setting.  Our philosophy is to immerse the girls totally in a new culture and encourage them to be outward looking.

Progressing into the Upper School at 13+, girls move into their nominated mixed-age House, living there until they have completed their GCSEs and remain attached to these key Houses throughout their time at Downe House.


Hermitage is the first House you see as you enter Lower School and girls love  shared outside space between Hermitage and Hill. Hermitage’s interior is the a the same design as Hill but the Hermite girls have made it distinctively their own. Mrs Collingwood is Housemistress of Hermitage and lives onsite with her husband, son, daughter and dog, Tanner.


Hill is situated in the middle boarding of Lower School boarding and girls enjoy playing in the shared play area at the back as well as visiting other Houses. Hill’s interior is a mirror reflection of Hermitage using different colours and the girls have made it their own. Mrs Williams is Housemistress of Hill and lives onsite with her husband and dog, Flick.


Darwin is closest House to our beautiful woodland and has plenty of outdoor space with a back garden bordering the woods. Although it has exactly the same interior design as the other Lower School Houses, Hill and Hermitage, it looks different from the outside. Mrs Capps is the Housemistress of Darwin and lives onsite with her husband, son and two dogs.


Veyrines is the name of our Lower School boarding House in the Perigord Noir in France. It is a beautiful rural farmhouse school in the heart of the Dordogne. Every girl in Lower Fourth spends a term here, immersed in French culture, and it is a highlight of their time at Downe. Mrs Scotland is Headmistress in Veyrines and lives there with her husband.


Visits & Open Mornings

The best way to find out more about Downe House, is to come and experience it for yourself – arrange a visit or join us for one of our Open Mornings?