The Downs School was founded in 1894 in a house overlooking the extensive parklands of Bristol known as The Downs. In 1927 it was relocated, according to the Headmaster of the time, Wilfred Harrison, to get away from the ‘incessant roar of traffic’ and the ‘nerve-racking turmoil of the city’. It was moved across the Clifton Suspension Bridge to Charlton House on the Tyntesfield Estate. In the autumn of 2002, the school and parklands was bought from the estate of Lord Wraxall for The Downs School Trust.
The oldest part of Charlton House is the East Wing which is Tudor and probably built during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558 – 1603). There remain two arched windows, now internal, from this period.
The front hall is Jacobean (James I: 1603 – 1625) but it was completely restored in 1883. The wonderful fireplace, ‘crude but spirited’, erected by Sir Edward Gorges in 1624 remains. It bears the arms of Gorges impaling Speke, fittingly the figures in the upper part representing Justice and Mercy.
The Victorian Wing was added by the Gibbs family in 1883 and contained the smoking room, the billiard room and library. The original billiard table is now exhibited at Tyntesfield House. The panelling and stained glass windows are from 1877 and display the Gibbs coat of arms.