It is through the Houses, primarily, that pupils experience Marlborough. They are "home" to pupils during their time at the College, forming the base for independent working, sleeping and relaxation. Pupils keep all their possessions, including games kit and musical instruments, in their dormitories or bedsits, and return to their Houses, which are always open to them, several times each day.
During the day, Dames take care of the housekeeping side, often running mid-morning break in the Houses and enabling pupils to return to the security of "base" to change books, meet up with friends and catch their breath before going back to lessons. As pupils move up the House in age, they go from shared dormitories to double or triple and then single bedsits.
By the Sixth Form, within the security and comfort of the House, older pupils are prepared for university life with responsibility for their own space, work patterns and time management. Houses form the basis of friendship groups throughout a pupil's time at Marlborough and beyond. Relationships with the adults in the House are critical to informing and guiding pupils as they become young adults. For parents, the HM remains the first point of contact with the school.
Of the fifteen Houses, five (Morris, New Court, Mill Mead, Elmhurst and Ivy House) are all-girl Houses, six (C1, C2, C3, Barton Hill, B1 and Turner) are all-boy Houses and four are 'mixed' Houses, in that they take boys from ages 13-18 and girls who join Marlborough from other schools at the age of sixteen. The mixed Houses, called 'out-College Houses' are situated slightly further from the centre of the school campus. Preshute, Cotton, Littlefield and Summerfield have their own catering arrangements and their pupils eat breakfast together daily as well as supper on four evenings each week.