Bradfield College

Coordinates: 51°26′57″N 01°07′52″W / 51.44917°N 1.13111°W / 51.44917; -1.13111
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St Andrew's College, Bradfield (Bradfield College)
, ,

TypePublic School
Private boarding school
MottoBenedictus es, O Domine doce me Statuta Tua
(Blessed art thou O Lord: O teach me thy statutes)
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1850; 174 years ago (1850)
FounderThomas Stevens, Rector and Lord of the Manor of Bradfield
Department for Education URN110121 Tables
HeadmasterChristopher Stevens
Second MasterAndrew Logan
Staff120 (approx.)
Age13 to 18
Colour(s)  Light blue
  Eton Blue
PublicationThe Bradfieldian
Former pupilsOld Bradfieldians
Bradfield College buildings in the centre of Bradfield village
Original buildings of Bradfield College
Bradfield College Chapel
Bradfield College buildings

Bradfield College, formally St Andrew's College, Bradfield, is a public school (English fee-charging boarding and day school) for pupils aged 13–18, located in the small village of Bradfield in the English county of Berkshire. It is noted for its open-air Greek theatre and its triennial Greek Play.

The school is a member of the Rugby Group, which also includes Rugby, Harrow, Shrewsbury, Wellington College and Charterhouse.

The college was founded in 1850 by Thomas Stevens, Rector and Lord of the Manor of Bradfield. It has around 490 male and 320 female pupils.


According to the Good Schools Guide, "Thoroughly unpretentious yet with lots to boast about, Bradfield is a heavenly place to learn and to grow. Very difficult to imagine who would not thrive here. There's something for everyone and lots for all."[1]

The school, which admits pupils between the ages of 13 and 18, has been fully co-educational since September 2005. All first year pupils (Fourth Formers) enter a first year boarding house (Faulkner's) and then, from the second year (known as the Shell), they move to their main boarding houses for the remaining four years.

The school motto the Latin rendering of Psalm 119:12 Benedictus es, O Domine. Doce me Statuta Tua, which means "You are blessed, Lord. Teach me your Laws".


Bradfield College was founded in 1850 by Thomas Stevens. Stevens had inherited the parish from his father in 1842, having been in his family for four generations. As a tribute to his father, he set about restoring the church. Sir Gilbert Scott (one of whose architect sons, John Oldrid Scott, was later to marry Thomas Stevens's eldest daughter, Mary Anne) was commissioned to effect the restoration. It was decided that the majority of the church, except the tower, should be demolished and rebuilt in a style influenced by that of gothic architecture. After the completion of the church in 1848, Stevens saw it fit to arrange a choir. While the whole village were able to sing, they were not felt to be of a high enough standard. It was proposed that a college be established at Bradfield, to be called St Andrew's College. The college was to be for the education of a limited number of boys between the ages of 8 and 12, with all to be from modest backgrounds. Their education was to be based upon 'true Church principles', with focus to be paid on reading, writing, mathematics, and music, and later on, classics and history.

The first headmaster to be appointed was F. B. Guy in 1852. The headmaster was to be under control of the college Warden, who would be responsible for the principal governance of the college. Soon after the formal establishment of the college, all references to 'true Church principles' were dropped, with the focus now being on providing an education like that of other British Public Schools.[2]

By 1880 there were eight masters and 75 boys (far fewer than the founder's aim of 300); creditors were petitioning for the school's bankruptcy given debts of £160,000;[3] by 1900 there were 292 students, making the school more financially viable.

The Greek play[edit]

Bradfield is renowned for its Greek plays and outdoor Greek theatre. The first Greek play, Alcestis, was performed in the original language in 1881. The play was put on by Headmaster, Herbert Branston Gray[4] to save the school from bankruptcy and was inspired by the performance of Agamemnon at Balliol College, Oxford in 1880, directed by F. R. Benson, who stage-managed the Bradfield performance and took the role of Apollo.

The theatre was based on that at Epidaurus and built in a disused chalk pit. It opened in 1890 with a performance of Antigone.

The theatre was closed in 2009 due to its poor state of repair, especially the temple building. Following a £1.3 million appeal, the theatre was restored and reopened with a performance of Antigone on 20 June 2014.[5] The college decided not to rebuild the Victorian temple at the rear of the performing area because such "temples" are not true to the design of ancient Greek theatres.

The Greek play is normally performed on a three-year rota. The students who act in them receive no formal training in speaking Ancient Greek, and have only nine months to learn the lines and direction, while keeping up with their other studies. In the 2023 production of Oedipus The King the Choral elements were performed in Ancient Greek alongside scenes in Modern English for the first time.


1852 F. B. Guy


1868–1869 Henry Hayman

1869–1872 J. S. Hodson

1872–1877 F. A. Souper

1877–1880 Charles Thomas Crutwell

1880–1910 Herbert Branston Gray

1910–1919 Harold Costley-White 1914 to 1928 Beloe ??–??S. P. Denning

??–?? R. E. Sanderson (10 years)

1928-1950 Eric Edward Allen Whitworth

1948 1957 John D. Hills

1957–1963 Anthony Chenevix-Trench

1964–1971 Michael Hoban

1971-1985 Anthony Oliver Herbert Quick

1985-2003 Peter B. Smith

2003-2011 Peter J.M. Roberts

2011–2015 Simon Henderson

2015–present Christopher Stevens

Current head master[edit]

Dr Christopher Stevens succeeded Simon Henderson as Headmaster in September 2015. Stevens was educated at Tonbridge School and then read Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University, from where he received his MA. He began his teaching career as a college lecturer while researching for a DPhil in Italian literature at Oxford University. He then established a school in France for Ashdown House, the boarding prep school in Sussex. He joined Uppingham School in 1997 where he was master-in-charge of cricket and a housemaster for nine years. In 2011 he moved to Marlborough College, and was Second Master until his appointment at Bradfield.

Other information[edit]

In September 2010 the Blackburn Science Centre was opened. The building includes green elements such as a bio-mass boiler, green roof and solar panels.

Since September 2012 Bradfield has offered the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) alongside the traditional A Level pathway.

In Summer 2015 Bradfield received an outstanding inspection report from the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

The oldest building is College gateway, which incorporates part of a barn of 1382. The wrought iron was made by the village blacksmith.

In September 2021 the college announced that it had acquired the neighbouring St. Andrew's Church after the building had fallen into disrepair. It is in the process of being converted into a secondary library and working space.[6]

Each August, the college serves as the 'base camp' for the Bradfield Ringing Course, which aims to improve the standard of change-ringing in the United Kingdom.[7]


Bradfield has 12 boarding houses in total. All first years pupils (Fourth Formers) enter a first year boarding house (Faulkner's) and then, from the second year (known as the Shell), they move to their main boarding houses for the remaining four years.

House Abbr. Hsm. Gender
Faulkner's L S. Grinham & J. Fox Female & Male
Loyd House A J. Preston Male
Army House C S. Rees Male
D House (House on the Hill) D R. Sanford Male
Stone House E J. Saunders Male
Hillside F C. Best Male
G House (House on the Hill) G T. Goad Male
The Close H L. Beith Male
Palmer House I N. Armstrong Female
Armstrong House J A. Spillane Female
Stevens House K C. van der Westhuizen Female
Stanley House M H. Peters Female

Old Bradfieldians[edit]

Notable staff[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bradfield College, Bradfield".
  2. ^ A History of Bradfield College (1900)
  3. ^ Spencer, Julian (May 2015). "Gray of Bradfield". The Trusty Servant. 119: 7–9. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  4. ^ ODNB article on Gray, Herbert Branston (1851–1929)
  5. ^ "Tragic tale marks new start for amphitheatre" Archived 15 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine Henley Standard 16 June 1914
  6. ^ "Bradfield College reunited with its roots after completing purchase of historic St. Andrew's Church". Retrieved 6 January 2023.
  7. ^ "Bradfield Ringing Course". Retrieved 6 January 2019.

External links[edit]

51°26′57″N 01°07′52″W / 51.44917°N 1.13111°W / 51.44917; -1.13111