Diocesan College

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Diocesan College (Bishops)
Diocesan college bishops crest.png
Diocesan College (Bishops) is located in Cape Town
Diocesan College (Bishops)
Diocesan College (Bishops)
Camp Ground Road, Rondebosch, 7700
Cape Town
South Africa
Type All-Boys Independent College School
Motto Pro Fide Et Patria
"For Faith and Fatherland"
Established 1849
Founder The Rt Revd Robert Gray, Bishop of Cape Town
Principal Mr Guy Pearson
Grades PreK - 12
Houses Founders, School, White, Birt, Gray, Kidd, Mallett, Ogilvie
Colour(s) Navy and light Blue
Affiliation Anglican, HMC, ISASA

The Diocesan College, or Bishops as it is more commonly known, is an independent, all-boys school situated in the suburb of Rondebosch in Cape Town, South Africa. The school was established in 1849 by Robert Gray, Bishop of Cape Town.


The institution consists of three schools: the college for grades 8 – 12; the preparatory school for grades 3 – 7, and the pre-preparatory school for grades 0-2.

The college is situated in Campground Road at the main campus, and a small portion of this land is used for the pre-preparatory school. The Preparatory School is situated in Fir Road, Rondebosch close to the college campus.

The college has eight houses: Founders, School and White are the boarding houses, and Birt, Gray, Kidd, Mallett and Ogilvie are for day-scholars. Each house has about 70 to 100 students. The preparatory school has four houses: Van der Bijl (for boarders and day-boys), Bramley, Brooke and Charlton.


The Collegiate of the Diocese of Cape Town (hence the name Diocesan College) was founded by Bishop Robert Gray, the first Anglican bishop of Cape Town, in 1849 at his house, Bishopscourt in Cape Town.[1] He founded two schools there, one of which was described as for the "native children" and the other for "European children" (this being the current school). Living with schools was hard for the bishop and this led him to establish the schools elsewhere. The black children moved to accommodation near the city, where Zonnebloem College now is. This movement left the bishop short of money and so he bought an unproductive farm in Campground Road, Rondebosch, to which the school was moved and on which it remains.[citation needed]


Rhodes Scholarship[edit]

Bishops is one of only four schools in the world to offer an annual Rhodes scholarship since 1901 to an ex-pupil to attend the University of Oxford. This is a result of the school having been part of the initial Rhodes Scholarship Experiment. When approached to help formulate the plan for the scholarship, Bishops was suggested by Mr Ernest Kilpin (later Sir Ernest, after he was knighted for services to the Union of South Africa) as a suitable school for the experiment and Cecil Rhodes agreed. Like Bishops' founder Robert Gray, he mistrusted purely secular education..[2]


Bishops offers the following sports:

  • Winter Sports
    • Cross Country
    • First Aid
    • Golf
    • Hockey (Field)
    • Mountain Biking
    • Rugby
    • Soccer
    • Squash
  • Summer Sports
    • Athletics (Track and Field)
    • Basketball
    • Canoeing
    • Climbing
    • Cricket
    • Karate
    • Shooting
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Waterpolo
    • Weights
  • Year-Round Sports
    • Fencing
    • Fitness Challenge
    • Rowing
    • Sailing
    • Surfing

Bishops has also offered the following sports in the past:[3]

  • Boxing (ended 1970)
  • Fives (ended 1921)
  • Gymnastics

Bishops was the first school in South Africa and in the southern hemisphere to start playing rugby,[4] and the main Piley Rees field is the oldest rugby field in South Africa[citation needed]. The school offers many sports; but the focus is on rugby union and cricket.

Over 20 sports matches are played on a weekly basis against schools in and around Cape Town. Many friendly rivalries have emerged, most notably against the nearby South African College School (SACS), and Rondebosch Boys' High School.

Beginning in 1892, the annual Bishops versus SACS rugby match is considered the oldest in Africa, although the keenest rivalry is often considered to be against Rondebosch Boys' High School. A match against Rondebosch is played twice per year in every sport.[5]

From 2006 to 2010, Vital Health Foods sponsored Bishops' Rugby to the value of R2.5 million.[6]


Bishops is an Anglican school, and maintains traditional links with the Diocese of Cape Town. Chapel services held three times a week and once a term evensong takes place. The college has two chapels, both central to life at Bishops. The older and smaller Brooke Chapel is used for more intimate services, while the bigger War Memorial Chapel was built in memory of the Bishops boys who died in service in World War I and is used for daily and Sunday services. A total of 112 Bishops old boys were killed in World War I.[7] In 2007, the school was used as the venue for the electoral college for the election of the new Archbishop of Cape Town, the metropolitan and primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

Relationships with other schools[edit]

Bishops is a member of the G20 Schools Group, a collection of college, preparatory and boarding schools from around the world including, Eton College the United States's Phillips Exeter Academy, Australia's Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College, and Switzerland's International School of Geneva. Bishops is also a member of the unofficial Elite Seven schools of South Africa. The college also has an International Exchange Programme with schools all over the world, with over 30 exchanges taking place annually.


Sexual abuse scandal[edit]

The first concerns a teacher, Leonard Kaplan, who despite a number of complaints over many years was kept on at the school, with no apparent regard for learners’ safety. He was ultimately asked to resign from the school. It is unknown how many pupils were threatened or coerced unwillingly into acts of a sexual nature with this teacher, but it should be noted that the teacher was kept on at the school despite notoriety amongst both teachers and scholars, many of whom reportedly were aware of his paedophilia.[8][9] As one report in the media stated "similar allegations had been made against Kaplan 19 years earlier but he had been allowed to stay on at the school".[10]


In March 2000 five matric boarders were expelled having been found guilty of beating about twenty Grade 9 and Grade 10 students in a hazing 'raid'. Fourteen months prior two boys were also victims of hazing. The school has publicly committed to eradicating the culture of bullying at the school.[11]

Old Diocesans[edit]

Notable alumni include:


Scientists and academics[edit]


Soldiers, sailors and airmen[edit]


  • Hilary Squires, retired South African judge and Former Rhodesian minister.

Politicians and nobility[edit]

Rugby players[edit]



See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Hermitage Day 1930.
  2. ^ McIntyre 1950.
  3. ^ Gardener 1997, p. 181.
  4. ^ First SA School at community-rugby.com Accessed August 2007
  5. ^ "Bosch Take on Bishops in Old Rugby Rivalry". YSN - Youth Sports Network. 2014-08-27. Retrieved 2018-02-17. 
  6. ^ "Bishops & Vital Health Foods Striving for Excellence" (PDF). Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Lambert 2004.
  8. ^ "Bishops in sex abuse cover up". News24. 25 May 2014. Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  9. ^ Jordan, Bobby (26 May 2014). "Sex-abuse cover-up at top SA school". Times LIVE. Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  10. ^ Jordan, Bobby (3 August 2014). "Police launch probe into Bishops sex claims". Times LIVE. Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  11. ^ Murray Williams (24 March 2000). "Boys expelled from Bishops for bullying". IOL News. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "A builder of others' dreams", Mail & Guardian, 7 – 13 February 1997, page 27.
  13. ^ Kawamoto 2010.
  14. ^ Sir Edmund Hakewill-Smith at SA Military History
  15. ^ Herschelle Gibbs at Cricinfo accessed 11 August 2007
  16. ^ Adrian Kuiper at Cricinfo accessed 11 August 2007
  17. ^ Tuppy Owen-Smith at Cricinfo accessed 12 August 2007

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°57′50″S 18°28′53″E / 33.96389°S 18.48139°E / -33.96389; 18.48139