Head Master’s Biography

Dr James Whitehead was educated at Stonyhurst and then at Hertford College, Oxford where he read English Language and Literature.

Subsequently, he obtained an M.Phil. in Modern Poetry at Stirling University and after spells in the Civil Service and in Bookselling, he completed a Ph.D. in Thomas Hardy’s Poetry at Manchester University, where he taught courses to undergraduates in Victorian and Modernist literature. In his teens and twenties, he spent much of his spare time playing rugby, running, hill-walking (including the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast long distance walks), cycling and skiing.

James began his school teacher career at Radley College near Oxford before becoming Head of English and then Director of Studies at Downside, then moving to Worth School in Sussex where he was Second Master (Senior Deputy) for nearly seven years, before returning to Downside as Head Master in April 2014.

James is married to Nicola and they have two daughters, as well as two Labrador dogs. Nicola teaches LAMDA at Downside. James maintains his enthusiasm for the outdoor life and especially relishes refereeing rugby and football matches. He has a longstanding interest in Catholic culture and Benedictine spirituality.