50 years of Summer School

When the notion of a Summer School at Marlborough College was first discussed there was understandably some difference of opinion. There were those who viewed with alarm the prospect of College property being used by outsiders and those who felt strongly that such impressive facilities ought not to remain idle for all the weeks of the school holidays.


In 1974 Brian Ashley, Head of PE at the College, was given permission to have a trial run. This convinced the authorities that a Summer School should start in earnest in 1975 when 210 people attended 20 courses over a period of two weeks.

From that point forward, the period of Summer School was extended to three weeks and the introduction of Children's Activities became a special feature, making the enterprise truly a matter of learning at leisure for all the family.

Thanks to an air traffic controllers strike in 1978, the BBC Holiday programme were sent to the Summer School instead of going to Spain. To their delight they found a totally new experience with Children's Activities in full swing and adults doing their own thing with a choice of over 50 courses - Cliff Michelmore advised us to have plenty of brochures ready for 1979 as we might get as many as 30,000 enquiries. The programme went out in early January and that number of enquiries was exceeded by the first post after this programme! Full marks to Brian Ashley.

Since Brian's departure in 1981 there have been four successive changes of Director - David Green, Marek Kwiatkowski, Jon Copp and now John Blake.


Between 1981 and 1994 the Summer School experienced a period of consolidation and steady growth under the watchful eye of David Green, formerly a member of the History Department at the College. Although the format remained constant, customers returned year after year, taking on new courses and renewing old friendships where common interests helped to create an easy social mix.


In 1995 a second change at the helm saw Marek Kwiatkowski mark his arrival with a profound change of direction - with the introduction of 'Teenagers' - bridging the gap between Children's Activities and adults. Other notable additions at that time were to include the 'Junior Troopers' (3-6 year olds), the broadening of EFL language courses available to unaccompanied children from overseas and a series of highly respected weekly gala performances. The number of courses on offer was significantly expanded and the Summer School rapidly grew in popularity as it boasted a programme which truly has "Something For Everyone".

2001 - 2014

In 2001 Marek left the College and handed the reins to Jon Copp who moved across from his role as Director of Physical Education to assume responsibility for the Summer School. Continuing to build on past success, the focus in recent years has been placed on raising the overall quality of the experience for our visitors in all aspects of the event. The introduction of an impressive Marquee positioned in the heart of Court proved a notable addition providing a wonderful venue for dining and enjoying the wide variety of entertainments on offer each day. The Friday Exhibition was introduced in 2004 and proved an extremely popular finale at the end of the week. Latterly, the launch of the new Summer School website continues to provide customers with the opportunity to book and pay for their holiday online and this significant step helped to push the Summer School ever forward.

2014 - 2022

Some time after Summer School 2013, with 14 successful Summer Schools under his belt, Jon Copp was promoted to the role Director of Development at Marlborough College. Step forward John Blake. John joined in July 2014 as the new Director of Marlborough College Enterprise Ltd. John, previously the Commercial Director at the home of the Chelsea Pensioner, the Royal Hospital Chelsea, came on board at a very exciting time as Summer School expanded from three to four weeks. The entertainment programme has also been enhanced with Gala performances on both Tuesday and Friday each week. John and the team are looking forward to the next 40 years of Summer School.

Undoubtedly the long term success of the Marlborough College Summer School has evolved from the steady improvement of facilities, the unusually wide range of courses, entertainments and the congenial atmosphere, all of which have enhanced the quality of the Summer School experience.

2022 - present

After eight years at the helm, John Blake moved on to new challenges and in September, Ross Urquhart was appointed as Summer School Director. Following a long career in marketing & advertising both in the UK and overseas, Ross spent seven years as Commercial Director of a country estate where large-scale, high-profile events helped fund the preservation and development of this historically significant property.

2022 marked a joyful & successful return of Summer School following the two year break, and it was heart-warming to welcome back friends, old and new. Plans for 2024 are well underway where we will once again present a fantastic array of courses and entertainments, enabling you to discover, create, learn and celebrate with us.


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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 8 Jul - 12 Jul

WK 2 15 Jul - 19 Jul

WK 3 22 Jul - 26 Jul

WK 4 29 Jul - 2 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM