Brighton College

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Brighton College
Brighton College is located in East Sussex
Brighton College
Brighton College
Brighton College is located in England
Brighton College
Brighton College
Brighton College is located in the United Kingdom
Brighton College
Brighton College
Eastern Road

, ,

England England
Coordinates50°49′11″N 0°07′11″W / 50.8196°N 0.1197°W / 50.8196; -0.1197Coordinates: 50°49′11″N 0°07′11″W / 50.8196°N 0.1197°W / 50.8196; -0.1197
TypeIndependent day and boarding school Public school
(Let right prevail)
FounderWilliam Aldwin Soames (1787-1871)
Local authorityBrighton and Hove
Department for Education URN114614 Tables
Chairman of the GovernorsThe Lord Mogg
HeadmasterRichard Cairns
ChaplainFather Robert Easton
Age3 to 18
Enrolment910 (ages 11 - 18)
Colour(s)Red and blue
PublicationThe Brightonian
Former pupilsOld Brightonians

Brighton College is a boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 11–18 in Brighton, England. Brighton College Preparatory School, for children aged 8 to 13, is located immediately next to the College itself and shares many of its facilities. The Pre-Prep School, for children ages 3 to 8, has its own site close by.

Charging up to £12,880 per term for boarders in 2015/16 makes it the most expensive Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) boarding school in the UK.[1]

In 2011, Brighton College opened Brighton College Abu Dhabi, the first in a planned chain of international schools.


Founded in 1845 by William Aldwin Soames, Brighton College was the first Victorian public school to be founded in Sussex.[2] Soames originally planned for use of the Brighton Pavilion, but after refusal by Queen Victoria, built the school in the suburb of Kemptown, Brighton.

Brighton College was recruited for both World Wars, resulting in notable deaths and casualties of Boys from the school.


There are 14 houses at Brighton College.[3] The houses are split by gender (with the exception of Alexander house), although staff of both sexes can be attached to any house. Houses contain between 48 and 85 pupils and are governed by a house master and a team of tutors with boarding houses also having a matron and house keeping staff.[3] The house master appoints Upper Sixth Formers as house prefects to look after and supervise younger members,[3] and one as head boy/girl, representing their house at house events and competitions.

In September 2017, Brighton's 14th house was opened, Alexander House. This is the first mixed-gender house in the college, it is only for the Upper Sixth who decide during their Lower Sixth whether they wish to move into this house or not, with all members coming from other boarding houses. It is not mandatory to move into this boarding house in the final year and roughly half of boarders chose to do so.

List of houses[edit]

House Abbreviation Colour(s) Gender Boarding/Day
Abraham Ab. Black/White M Boarding
Alexander Ax. Blue & Gold M/F Boarding
Aldrich Al. Sky Blue M Day
Chichester Ch. Purple F Day
Durnford Du. Green M Day
Fenwick Fe. Lilac F Boarding
Hampden Ha. Black M Day
Headmaster's (Head's) He. Orange/White M Boarding
Leconfield Le. Navy Blue M Day
New Ne. Magenta F Boarding
Ryle Ry. Yellow M Day
School Sc. Violet/White M Boarding
Seldon Se. Turquoise F Day
Williams Wi. Red F Day


Brighton College was named UK School of the Year 2013 at the Independent Schools Awards on 14 November 2013. The judges cited "the college's extraordinary academic success, clear strategic vision, strong social mission and dynamic expansion". It was also named 'England's Independent School of the Year 2011-2012' by The Sunday Times.[4] The school's Head Master, Richard Cairns, was awarded the title England's Public School Headmaster of the Year 2012 by Tatler magazine.[5]


The school occupies three sites in the east of the city, facing south onto Eastern Road. It is immediately to the east of the site of the former Kemptown railway station, across Sutherland Road.


Brighton College's cricket pavilion

The school's principal buildings are in the gothic revival style by Sir George Gilbert Scott RA (flint with Caen stone dressings, 1848–66). Later buildings were designed by his pupil and former student at the college Sir Thomas Graham Jackson RA (brick and flint with cream and pink terracotta dressings, 1883–87; flint with Clipsham stone dressings 1922–23).

In 2012, the school completed a new cricket pavilion on the "Home Ground", the school's main cricket ground which is also used as a rugby pitch in the Michaelmas term. It is situated opposite the site of the old pavilion and the sports hall. The Diamond Jubilee pavilion was opened by the Earl and Countess of Wessex in July 2012.[6]

Notable early developments[edit]

The school occupied a significant niche in the development of English secondary education during the 19th century. Notable accomplishments include:

  • The use of individual classrooms for teaching small groups [2]
  • Being an early pioneer in teaching both modern languages and science [2]
  • Inventing the school magazine (1852) [2]
  • Building the first school gymnasium (1859) [2]
  • Erecting the first purpose-built science laboratory (1871) [2]

Recent educational advances[edit]

Brighton College was the first independent school to introduce compulsory Mandarin from the age of 13 and the first public school in the UK to sign a deal with Chinese government to encourage teaching of Mandarin and Chinese culture (2006)[7]

Victorian school culture[edit]

The school's evolution also questions the "traditional" account of how the Victorian public schools developed. For example, the school initially had a ban on the use of corporal punishment — until 1851. The school captain was elected by universal suffrage by the boys until 1878, when a prefectorial system was also introduced. Sporting games remained voluntary until 1902 (and team members had chosen their own captain and awarded colours to their outstanding players until 1878).

Charitable tax status[edit]

Brighton College led the legal fight to secure the charitable tax status currently enjoyed by all registered charities. A legal case between the school and Inland Revenue from 1916-26 produced a series of changes to tax law in the 1918 Income Tax Act, the 1921 and 1922 Finance Acts and, above all, section 24 of the 1927 Finance Act. The case (Brighton College v Marriott) went to the High Court (June 1924, 40 T.L.R. 763-5), the Court of Appeal (November 1924, 1 KB 312) and ultimately the House of Lords (November 1925, AC 192-204).

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community[edit]

Brighton College is located in Brighton's Kemptown area.[8]

For the 2013-2014 academic year, 17-year-old pupil Will Emery was elected as the first openly gay head boy of an English public school[9][10][11]

In January 2016, Headmaster Richard Cairns announced that Brighton College would scrap gender-specific uniforms and instead introduce a "trouser uniform" and a "skirt uniform"[12] with both boys and girls under age 16 being free to choose which to wear. According to Cairns, Brighton College is “reacting to a changing society which recognises that some children have gender dysphoria and do not wish to lose their emotional gender identities at school.”[13]


The Brighton College Chapel

George Bell, Bishop of Chichester created the school grounds as an extra-parochial ecclesiastical district. Placed outside the parish of St. Matthew's, Brighton, the school chapel holds an episcopal licence to perform weddings for its residents, after banns; no archiepiscopal licence is required.


Current fees at 2012/13 stand at circa £31,000 p.a. for full-time boarders and circa £19,500 p.a. for day pupils in sixth form.[14] There are a small number of bursaries and scholarships available to new pupils at school.[15]

Lower School[edit]

In September 2009, the school opened a new "Lower School" for children between the ages of 11 and 13. The site of this new part of the Senior School is on the old Art Block, with that now having moved to above the Woolton Quad. The Lower School means that Brighton College has been open to intake children at the age of 11 into the senior school for the first time in its history, as opposed to its traditional youngest intake of thirteen-year-old boys and girls, since the academic year starting 2009.

Brighton College Abu Dhabi[edit]

In 2010, Brighton College announced that it was "helping to set up schools in Abu Dhabi".[16] This venture is a for-profit franchise operation through a company the school has set up, Brighton College International Schools Ltd, in a joint venture with a UAE property development company Bloom Properties.[17] Brendan Law, previously of Westbourne House School in Chichester, West Sussex, was named Headmaster of Brighton College Abu Dhabi in September 2010,[18] and the school opened in September 2011.[19] He was replaced by Ken Grocott, former-Head of Geography at Brighton College, in September 2012.[20]


Musical activities[edit]

  • Advanced composition - An after-school club where pupils are shown advanced compositional techniques.[21]
  • Barber Shop Group - A group for male singers at the school mainly singing American Barber Shop music.
  • Chamber Choir - A choral group consisting mainly of the most advanced singers in the school, therefore including many music scholars.[21]
  • Chamber Music - An activity run for small ensemble groups of musicians of any standard within the school, some of which go on to take part in the National Chamber Music Competition.[21]
  • Chamber Orchestra - A large ensemble for the best string players in the school to play orchestral chamber music.[21]
  • Chapel Choir - A choir open to any pupil in the school which performs each Wednesday for the School Chapel service, and on occasional Sunday services. They regularly also perform for school events such as speech day and Remembrance Day.[21] The Chapel Choir released their album The Truth From Above, recorded on 4 and 5 September 2005.[22]
  • Choral Society - A choral group requiring no singing experience, and open to all pupils, Old Brightonians, members of staff, parents at the college, and friends. They regularly perform in Brighton venues, and have performed Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, in St John's, Smith Square.[21]
  • Concert Band - A wind ensemble, for all wind, brass and percussion players in the college to practice together and perform in concert twice a year.[21]
  • Lower School Orchestra - An orchestral group open to the Third and Fourth forms.
  • Saxophone Ensemble - This ensemble is open to all of the college saxophone players.[21]
  • Swing Band - specialises in swing and jazz music, playing many songs from popular music such as: "My Girl". They perform at many school events such as open day and at school concerts. This ensemble is occasionally professionally commissioned to play at events outside of Brighton College.[21]
  • Symphony Orchestra - The school's largest ensemble, with compulsory attendance for musicians of Grade 5 standard or above, with some past members of Junior Conservatoire standard. This orchestra encompasses players from all years of the Senior School, and runs throughout the Michaelmas and Lent terms. It does not run in the summer term, as many of the players have exams from years 10 up to those in year 13 who are about to leave the school.
    • Junior Orchestra - This smaller orchestra runs only in the summer term, and is open to players in years 9 and 10. This orchestra presents an opportunity for less able players to gain orchestral experience.

Art activities[edit]

  • Life Drawing Club - A club for Sixth Form pupils to practice drawing from life.[23]
  • de Glehn Club - An activity allowing pupils of all ages to experiment with, and share ideas.[23]
  • Jackson Club - A club allowing GCSE and younger pupils, to partake in artistic activities such as watercolour and collage.[23]
  • Nash Club - A club specifically for AS and A2 level artists to complete coursework, and write essays. This club is named after the famous artist and Old Brightonian: David Nash (artist).[23]
  • The Poynter Club - A GCSE dedicated club, to help with the "Drawing Element" which makes up a large part of their GCSE syllabus.[23]
  • The Worsley Club - An informal media exploration club, open to GCSE pupils. This club was named after John Worsley, who is an Old Brightonian, and notable for being an accomplished artist and German Prisoner of War camp escapee. He was also the president of the Royal Society of Marine Arts.[23]
  • Photography Club - The only club to exclusively deal with darkroom photography, and all associated areas. This club is open to all college pupils, although most members are currently taking an A level in Photography.[23]
  • School Newspaper - A termly newspaper titled "A World Connected", containing articles of activities students have partaken in both within and outside of school, which is student-run and edited, allowing creative-minded writers to share their personal experiences with the school audience.

Design technology activities[edit]

  • Workshop Skills - An introduction to skills and equipment used in the workshop. This activity is open to all college pupils.[24]
  • Jewellery Club - This club gives students the opportunity to learn about the skills in jewellery making, and coaches in design techniques which they can employ in designing jewellery in this activity slot. It is open to all pupils.[24]
  • Engineers Club - A hands on club, concentrating on the world of engineering, and teaches advanced metalwork skills.[24]
  • Home Crafts Club - An activity for members to experiment with artistic ideas and working with any materials available. This is a very informal activity, and is open to all college pupils.[24]


Brighton College's major sports are rugby, cricket, athletics, and netball with 1st teams in all four being some of the strongest in England.

The 1st XV rugby team play in the schools blue, maroon, and gold hoops and most home games are played on the Home Ground, a large expanse of ground located to the rear of the college.

The college was selected to provide training ground for Japan during the course of Rugby World Cup 2015.[25] Going forward, England Head Coach Eddie Jones, Japan coach then, has hosted the elite player squad training camps at the college for a couple of occasions.[26]

Christian Union[edit]

A student organisation bringing together Christian students. They run a lunch each Monday where Christians, or other interested persons, can go to discuss the Christian faith.[27]

Principals and headmasters[edit]

Brighton College Gateway arch and Headmaster's Study, Dawson Building.

The title of principal was changed to headmaster in December 1885.[28] The requirement for the headmaster to be an ordained priest of the Church of England was removed in 1909.[29]

Note: Simon Smith returned to his position as Second Master after Richard Cairns took leadership in 2006.[30]

Notable alumni and former members of staff[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Brighton College History". Archived from the original on 8 May 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "Pastoral Life at Brighton College". Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  4. ^ "Star quality shows as Brighton College rocks". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  5. ^ "The Tatler School Awards 2012". Tatler. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  6. ^ Sussex Living magazine
  7. ^ "College makes Chinese compulsory". BBC News. 16 January 2006. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Stab Vests and Butter Knives" Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Fr. Robert Easton, September 2011, Farmington Trust
  9. ^ Will Emery Gay Head Boy Public School The Huffington Post, 25 August 2013
  10. ^ Public School appoints first gay head boy Sian Griffiths, The Sunday Times (London), 25 August 2013.
  11. ^ Openly gay 17 year old Will Emery appointed head boy public school Sam Webb, Daily Mail (London), 25 August 2013
  12. ^ The Telegraph, 20 January 2016
  13. ^ The Guardian, 20 January 2016
  14. ^[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Practical Matters". Brighton College. Archived from the original on 7 April 2008.
  16. ^ "Brighton College News". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Middle East property developer to use Brighton College as template for chain of replica schools across the globe". Daily Mail. London. 18 March 2009.
  18. ^ Hyslop, Leah (24 September 2010). "Daily Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  19. ^ "Abu Dhabi Week". Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Brighton College musical activities list". Archived from the original on 23 October 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  22. ^ Album Cover for The Truth From Above by Brighton College Chapel Choir
  23. ^ a b c d e f g "Brighton College Art activities". Archived from the original on 23 October 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  24. ^ a b c d "Brighton College DT activities". Archived from the original on 23 October 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  25. ^ "Japan's Rugby World Cup players were given guard of honour by Brighton College pupils after heroic victory over South Africa". Daily Mail. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  26. ^ "Eddie Jones to host England training camp at Brighton College". The Argus. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  27. ^ "Christian Union at Brighton College". Archived from the original on 23 October 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  28. ^ Jones, Martin (1995). Brighton College 1845-1995. Chichester: Phillimore. p. 67. ISBN 0-85033-978-2.
  29. ^ Jones (1995), p.212
  30. ^ "Staff List" (ASP). Retrieved 27 December 2010.


  • G. P. Burstow, "Documents relating to the Early History of Brighton College", The Sussex County Magazine, October 1951 and August 1952.
  • G. P. Burstow & M. B. Whittaker (ed. Sir Sydney Roberts), "A History of Brighton College." (Brighton, 1957).
  • Martin D. W. Jones, "A Short History of Brighton College." (Brighton College, 1986).
  • Martin D. W. Jones, "Brighton College 1845-1995." (Phillimore, Chichester, 1995) ISBN 0-85033-978-2.
  • Martin D. W. Jones, "Brighton College v Marriott: Schools, charity law and taxation.", History of Education, 12 no.2 (1983).
  • Martin D. W. Jones, "Gothic Enriched: Thomas Jackson's Mural Tablets at Brighton College Chapel.", Church Monuments, VI (1991).
  • Martin D. W. Jones, "Edmund Scott & Brighton College Chapel: a lost work rediscovered.", Sussex Archaeological Collections, 135 (1997).
  • H. J. Mathews (ed.), "Brighton College Register, Part 1, 1847-1863." (Farncombe, Brighton, 1886).
  • E. K. Milliken (ed.), "Brighton College Register 1847-1922." (Brighton, 1922).
  • Anon., "Brighton College War Record 1914-1919." (Farncombe, Brighton, 1920). Compiled by Walter Hett.

External links[edit]