Denstone College is part of the Woodard family of schools. The founder, Nathaniel Woodard was described as a man of "social conscience, great energy and organisational talent." His aim was to address poverty and social deprivation in society, firmly believing that education was fundamental to that change, then dedicating his life to founding schools. In 1851, the Woodard group began with the building of Hurstpierpoint College, shortly followed by Lancing, Bloxham and Ardingly.

Denstone was begun in 1868 and completed five years later as the flagship independent boarding school of the midlands. The school is set in a site of more than one hundred acres of rolling Staffordshire countryside, close to the Derbyshire border. According to Pevsner, the building is Victorian Gothic "with sweeping composition" and is built on an 'H' principle with longer wings to the back and shorter to the front of school.

Denstone began life as a school in 1873, with 46 boarding boys as pupils, organised into eight houses named after benefactors. Numbers remained small until the First World War, when they swelled to 314. Expansion between the wars was limited although a classroom block opened in 1926. During the Second World War playing fields were ploughed up to provide for vegetable growing. The two wars took their toll of pupils with 272 pupils losing their lives: they are commemorated at the College Remembrance Service and there are memorials in Chapel, the Library and the Lonsdale Quadrangle. In the early fifties there were a number of fundraising initiatives aimed at increasing facilities, accommodation and a swimming pool, culminating in the Centenary Building for art and design technology in 1977. Day boys and girls were admitted in 1976, with girls’ boarding launched in two houses in 1981. A Royal and Ancient accredited nine hole golf course was opened in 1992, a new Sports Hall in 2000 and the School Room was completely refurbished as a modern theatre in 2003. A purpose-built Music school and additional classrooms were completed in 2010, then a further classroom block and the new Sports Pavilion and Complex completed in 2012 was followed by a beautiful new library in 2013. Pupil numbers and academic achievement have grown steadily since the mid-nineties and the College is at its fullest ever at over 600 pupils, making the College one of the best independent schools in Staffordshire and indeed further afield. These pupils come from a range of feeder schools, both independent and state, including Denstone College Preparatory School at Smallwood Manor, with which we have strong links.

Over recent years many new facilities have been added, and the school looks and feels very different, but Woodard’s ideals still hold true today: education is the key to improving society. Our aim for every Denstonian is that they take their place in society as a confident and articulate contributor.