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 in the Lower Fourth.

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.

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.

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 come to as you enter Lower School and girls love the shared outside space between Hermitage and Hill. Hermitage’s interior is 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 the central boarding house in Lower School and girls enjoy playing in the shared garden area to the side and rear of the building with their friends in Hermitage and Darwin. Hill’s interior is a mirror reflection of Hermitage, but the Hill house staff and girls have worked hard to make it their own with colourful furnishings and decor. Ms Anna Lister is Housemistress of Hill and lives in the house with her son and their golden retriever, Milo.


Darwin is the closest House to our beautiful woodland and has plenty of outdoor space with a back garden bordering the woods. Although it has a very similar interior finish to the other Lower School Houses, Hill and Hermitage, it looks different from the outside. Mrs Hughes is the Housemistress of Darwin and lives onsite with her husband, two children, and their dog called Milo.

Tours & Open Mornings

The best way to find out more about Downe House is to experience it for yourself. Book a personal tour or join us at one of our Open Mornings, available throughout the year.

Now accepting more Day Pupils for September 2025! Learn more at our Open Event on Thursday 9 May.
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