History

The History Department at Charterhouse has been at the forefront of developments in the teaching of History at secondary level for several years. The department has introduced new syllabuses at GCSE and sixth-form level, and now boasts one of the most excitingly diverse curricula in the country. We aim to inspire an interest in, and love of, the past, so that pupils will continue to read and enjoy history throughout their adult lives.

The department was one of the first in the country to adopt the International GCSE syllabus in Years 10 and 11. This enables us to forensically examine the history of international relations in the 20th Century to provide a stronger foundation for Sixth Form study.

We have also been at the forefront of the development of the new Pre-U examination, which we believe is one of the most exciting developments in sixth form teaching in the last few years. As such, we are able to offer courses in topics as diverse as The Crusades, Civil Rights in the United States, and China under Mao Zedong.

Overall, our courses provide pupils with a thorough understanding of the political, social, cultural and religious issues of the past, both through investigative learning and from the perspectives of contemporaries and historians.

A large number of pupils go on to study the subject at university in order to develop a career in Law, Finance, the Arts, Teaching and beyond.

Full details of the curriculum are available in the Under School (Years 9-11) Curriculum and Sixth Form Curriculum sections.

Mrs Catherine McDonald, MA (Cantab) - Head of Department

Mrs McDonald joined Charterhouse in 2009 to teach History, having previously worked as a solicitor. Mrs McDonald was Master of the Specialists for three years and has been Head of History since returning from maternity leave in June 2016. Outside of the classroom Mrs McDonald helps with the School golf team and the Duke of Edinburgh award programme.

Mr Michael Gillespie, BA

Mr Gillespie joined the History Department in 2002, having left the School as a pupil in 1998. He teaches medieval and early modern History, with particular interest in topics like outcasts in the Middle Ages and the Witch-Hunt. Outside of the hashroom, Mr Gillespie coaches the U16 A hockey and the U15 A cricket teams. Additionally, he is unashamedly obsessed with Bob Dylan - and despairs at the musical taste of one or two of his colleagues.  

Mr David McCombes, MA (Oxon)

Mr McCombes joined Charterhouse in 2011, having been a Housemaster and History teacher at Highgate School, London. Before teaching Mr McCombes worked as a Press and Information Officer for Her Majesty the Queen, working in Buckingham Palace between 2001 and 2004. At Charterhouse, he is Master of the Specialists and, outside of the classroom, runs the school’s football programme, as Master-in-Charge, as well as helping with a variety of other sports, golf being his clear favourite and approaching unhealthy obsession status. He also assists with the Duke of Edinburgh programme. Mr McCombes is married with three children.

Mr Frank Thorpe, BA, MA

Mr Thorpe grew up in Sheffield and was educated at King Edward VII School before attending Downing College at Cambridge to study History. He studied at the University of Sheffield to gain his MA in Eighteenth Century Studies and then stayed to complete his PGDE. Mr Thorpe's interests include music concerts, film, cross country, athletics, cricket and hill walking.

Mrs Laura Wakeling, MA

Mrs Wakeling read History at Magdalene College, Cambridge and taught at Shrewsbury School for nine years before joining Charterhouse in 2015. Her historical interests include 18th and 19th Century France, Tsarist Russia and the English Reformation. Mrs Wakeling is also Head of Higher Education. She is a tutor in Weekites and coaches netball.