History at Pilgrims’ is tangible, and the study of it is exciting. Nestled among the remains of Roman walls and medieval buildings, in the heart of what was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Wessex, the boys cannot help but feel the presence of centuries past.

Pilgrims’ boys are never passive learners and our historians especially are encouraged to challenge and ask why. They enjoy the narrative of the history syllabus; the names, places, dates and events are all crucial to an understanding of the past. In a school steeped in history, the ability to connect events of the past with the present can only enhance the boys’ understanding of the world in which they live.

Our youngest historians

In Pre-Prep history the boys study people and events of the past, ranging from the immediacy of their own grandparents to historical figures as diverse as Lord Nelson, Guy Fawkes, Neil Armstong and Thomas Edison. Questioning and research are actively encouraged and topics are deliberately boy oriented: the study of castles, the history of transport, pirates, ships  and the American Indians are hugely popular and easily accessible. Lessons are very visual and supported wherever possible with a field trip. in this way, the boys begin to grasp the concept of chronology and to discern the similarities and differences between ways of life in the past.

Junior Studies


History teaching in the Junior years begins with the study of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. In Year 4, the focus shifts to British history as the boys learn about the Victorians and Britain in the 1930s. The Year 5 syllabus concentrates on the first millennium AD: Roman Britain, the Anglo Saxons and the Vikings.


History focus days bring an added dimension to the boys' studies. For example, the Juniors may come to school dressed as Romans or Greeks and their gods for the day, and attend classes such as legionnaire drills, gladiator training or olympic sports before refuelling with a themed lunch.

Senior Years

History in the Senior years is taught by the Head of Department. The rich curriculum allows the boys to study British history (1066-1900) with topics including the Norman Conquest, the medieval church, the English Reformation, the growth of the British Empire and the Napoleonic Wars.

Scholarship Studies

The scholarship set take an additional course in 20th century European history, with key topics including the origins of the Great War, the Russian Revolution, the rise of Nazism and the Second World War.


The Department makes full use of the rich resources in The Close and enjoys strong links with the Cathedral, Winchester College, the City Museum and English Heritage. From the very early years, the boys’ learning is greatly enhanced by trips to historic sites. During the course of their studies they will expect to visit Winchester Mill, Portchester Castle, Fishbourne Roman Villa, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Hampton Court, amongst others. Younger boys may participate in a pilgrimage to the Hospital of St Cross and in their final term, boys in Year 8 are invited to visit the D Day landing beaches in Normandy, a profoundly moving experience.