Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Brighton College

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Father Robert Easton


Richard Cairns

+44 1273 704200

Mixed-sex education

Brighton College

Independent day and boarding schoolpublic school

Chairman of the Governors
Professor Lord Robert Skidelsky

William Aldwin Soames (1787-1871)

Eastern Rd, Brighton BN2 0AL, UK

ΤΟ Δ’ΕΥ ΝΙΚΑΤΩ; (Let right prevail)

Brighton college 1st xv highlights 16 17

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.


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 (the only school in England to have seen exam results improve every single year for seven years), 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. The school's Head Master, Richard Cairns, was awarded the title England's Public School Headmaster of the Year 2012 by Tatler magazine.

In 2011, Brighton College opened Brighton College Abu Dhabi, the first in a planned chain of international schools. Charging up to £12,880 per term for boarders in 2015/16 makes it the most expensive HMC boarding school in the UK.

Brighton college 1st xv 2015 16


Founded in 1845 by William Aldwin Soames, Brighton College was the first Victorian public school to be founded in Sussex.


There are 13 houses at Brighton College. The houses are split by gender, 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. The house master is free to appoint members of the Upper Sixth to act as house prefects to look after and supervise younger members of the house. The house master also appoints one member of the Upper Sixth to act as head of house, a role which involves the same duties as a house prefect as well as representing their house at house events and competitions.

Each house has aspects that distinguishing it from other houses, such as its own colours and its location around the college. For example, all of the boys' boarding houses can be found within the front quad whereas the boys' day houses can be found at other locations around the college campus.


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.


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.

A new chaplaincy is planned to be created in part of the space which will be left by Durnford House, which is on the end of the Bristol wing, Dawson Building which currently contains both Durnford and Abraham Houses.

Notable developments

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
  • Being an early pioneer in teaching both modern languages and science
  • Inventing the school magazine (1852)
  • Building the first school gymnasium (1859)
  • Erecting the first purpose-built science laboratory (1871)
  • 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)
  • Victorian school culture

    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

    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

    Brighton College is located in Brighton's Kemptown area, once described by the College Chaplain, Father Robert Easton, as "a hot-spot of bohemian elegance and [...] a vibrant maze of coffee shops, pubs and clubs. It is the gay district of the gay capital of Britain [...]".

    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 following an "overwhelmingly" positive vote by over 1,000 pupils and staff.

    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" 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.”


    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. There are a small number of bursaries and scholarships available to new pupils at school.

    Lower School

    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.

    Franchising the Brighton College Brand Internationally: Brighton College Abu Dhabi

    In 2010, Brighton College announced that it was "helping to set up schools in Abu Dhabi". 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. Brendan Law, previously of Westbourne House School in Chichester, West Sussex, was named Headmaster of Brighton College Abu Dhabi in September 2010, and the school opened in September 2011. He was replaced by Ken Grocott, former-Head of Geography at Brighton College, in September 2012.

    Musical activities

  • Advanced composition - An after-school club where pupils are shown advanced compositional techniques.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chamber Orchestra - A large ensemble for the best string players in the school to play orchestral chamber music.
  • Chapel Choir - A choir open to any pupil in the school which performs each Tuesday for the School Chapel service, and on occasional Sunday services. They regularly also perform for school events such as speech day and Remembrance Day. The Chapel Choir released their album The Truth From Above, recorded on 4 and 5 September 2005.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • Life Drawing Club - A club for Sixth Form pupils to practice drawing from life.
  • de Glehn Club - An activity allowing pupils of all ages to experiment with, and share ideas.
  • Jackson Club - A club allowing GCSE and younger pupils, to partake in artistic activities such as watercolour and collage.
  • 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).
  • The Poynter Club - A GCSE dedicated club, to help with the "Drawing Element" which makes up a large part of their GCSE syllabus.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Design technology activities

  • Workshop Skills - An introduction to skills and equipment used in the workshop. This activity is open to all college pupils.
  • 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.
  • Engineers Club - A hands on club, concentrating on the world of engineering, and teaches advanced metalwork skills.
  • 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.
  • Sport

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

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

    Christian Union

    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.

    Principals and headmasters

  • Rev. Arthur Macleane (1846)
  • Rev. Henry Cotterill (1851), subsequently Bishop of Grahamstown and Edinburgh
  • Rev. Dr. John Griffith (1856)
  • Rev. Dr. Charles Bigg (1871), subsequently Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Oxford
  • Rev. Thomas Hayes Belcher (1881)
  • Rev. Robert Halley Chambers (1892), formerly Principal of Victoria College, Jersey, subsequently Head Master of Christ College, Brecon
  • Rev. Arthur Titherington (1895)
  • Rev. Canon William Dawson (1906), formerly Headmaster of Corby Grammar School and The King's School, Grantham
  • Rev. Arthur Belcher (1933), a pupil 1886-95, son of Rev. Thomas Hayes Belcher
  • Christopher Fairfax Scott (1937), formerly Headmaster of Monmouth School 1928-37
  • Walter Hett (1939)
  • Arthur Stuart-Clark (1944), formerly Headmaster of Steyning Grammar School
  • Roland Lester (1950) (acting)
  • William Stewart MC (1950), subsequently Master of Haileybury and Imperial Service College
  • Henry Christie (1963), subsequently Warden of St Edward's School, Oxford
  • William Blackshaw (1971)
  • John Leach (1987)
  • Dr. Anthony Seldon (1997), subsequently Master of Wellington College
  • Simon Smith (2005) (acting)
  • Richard Cairns (2006)
  • The title of principal was changed to headmaster in December 1885. The requirement for the headmaster to be an ordained priest of the Church of England was removed in 1909.

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


    Brighton College Wikipedia