Brighton College: Wikis


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Brighton College
(Let right prevail)
Established 1845
Type Independent School
Headmaster Richard Cairns MA Oxon
Chaplain Father Robert Easton
Chairman of the Governors Professor Lord Robert Skidelsky
Founder William Aldwin Soames
Location Eastern Road
East Sussex
England England
LEA Brighton and Hove
Ofsted number SC050155
Staff 150
Students 711 (ages 11 - 18)
Gender Co-educational
Ages 3 to 18
Houses 11
Publication Brighton College Newsletter
Former pupils Old Brightonians
Coordinates: 50°49′11″N 0°07′11″W / 50.8196°N 0.1197°W / 50.8196; -0.1197

Brighton College is an institution divided between a Senior School known simply as Brighton College, the Prep School and the Pre-Prep School. All of these schools are co-educational independent schools in Brighton, England, sited immediately next to each another. The Senior School caters for children ages approx. 11 to 18. The current headmaster is Richard J. Cairns.

The Good Schools Guide called the school a "Happy and forward-looking town school with a wide and healthy spread of pupils and parents", also stating: "A good bet to become an even more impressive school in the future."[1]



Founded in 1845 by William Aldwin Soames, who collected a group of like-minded local citizens to join him in the task (especially Edward Cornford, a solicitor), Brighton College was the first of the public schools to be founded in Sussex.


Brighton College Main Building

Brighton College has 11 houses[2] which all serve a similar but different purpose. The houses are all split by gender, although staff of both sexes can be attached to any house. All houses contain between 48 and 70 pupils.[2]

The house system provides not only a framework on which sporting, music and other competitions can be formed, but also a core community for the children.[2]


Day Houses

Community spirit in the houses allows the day students a similar experience of camaraderie as the bonds formed by pupils who live and work together in boarding accommodation.[3]

Staff attached to the day houses include a House Master/Mistress and a tutor for each Year Group or 'form'.[4] These staff are academic teaching staff, and the House Masters/Mistresses are drawn from the senior teachers. These, with the assistance of Form Tutors, are responsible for overseeing pupil achievement and welfare.

Boarding Houses

The structure of the boarding houses varies slightly from that of the day houses, in reflection of their subtly different role within the College.

All houses have a House Master/Mistress and the team of form tutors. They also have a duty teacher in each house, who at any given time can be called upon by students in need. The ethos of the boarding houses tends to be one of extended family [5], giving the House Masters/Mistresses a less distant role to their counterparts in the day houses.

Staff in boarding houses have the option to live within the School grounds.

List of Houses

  • Abraham - Boys
  • Aldrich - Boys
  • Chichester - Girls
  • Durnford - Boys
  • Fenwick - Girls
  • Hampden - Boys
  • Leconfield - Boys
  • Ryle - Boys
  • School - Boys
  • Seldon - Girls
  • Williams - Girls

Of these, Abraham, Fenwick and School are boarding houses.

Seldon is the newest house, having been created out of Williams House in 2008.


The school occupies a large site 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 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). It now has a new building development which recently finished, in the form of a brand new £1.3M art centre to further its already renowned arts department. Included in this centre is the Confucius Language Lab.

The School recently completed a new cricket pavilion on the "Home Ground" which is the school's best 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.

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 nineteenth 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)[6]

Victorian school culture

The school's own evolution also questions the "traditional" account of how the Victorian public schools developed at Brighton. For example the school initially had a ban on the use of corporal punishment — until 1851. The School Captain was elected by universal suffrage among the entire pupil body 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: campaigns to change the law

Brighton College was involved in fighting legal battles to secure the charitable tax status currently enjoyed by certain non profit-making educational organisations. 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).

Combined Cadet Force

The Colours are displayed on Brighton College Open Day Summer 2008.

The school's Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is among the tiny handful to carry colours — both a regimental and a king's colour. Both were presented by Sir Berry Cusack-Smith in the 1920s. The army section is affiliated to the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.[7] The School's CCF also stands out as it is a contingent with a dedicated Signals Troop which is entitled to wear the uniform of the Royal Corps of Signals.

Notable personnel

  • Commanding Officer (CO) - Lieutenant Commander Derek Roberts BA LSDC
  • OC (Officer Commanding) Army Section - Major Stephen Radojcic BSc
  • OC (Officer Commanding) Royal Navy Section - Lieutenant Ben Collie BSc
  • OC (Officer Commanding) Royal Air Force Section - Flight Lieutenant Bernadine Walsh BA
  • School Staff Instructor - Regimental Sergeant Major Tony Tighe

Note: The Signals Troop is part of the Army section, so does not have its own commanding officer, although the Signals Officer attached to the school is Lieutenant Dan Lehmann.

Music in the CCF

In the past the Brighton College CCF has also had a Military Band, and Drum Corps which are not currently in use, although the contingent still retains 8 Marching Snare Drums, a Marching Bass Drum, and 4 Bugles. The Contingent also maintains 6 old brass Snare Drums, 1 old tenor Drum, and an old wooden Bass Drum which are used in ceremonial events such as the Remembrance Day Parade, as an altar of drums on which the School CCF Colours will be laid.

Additional information

The school is unique among English public schools in having a Greek motto: ΤΟ Δ’ΕΥ ΝΙΚΑΤΩ. From Aeschylus' Agamemnon, it means "Let Right Prevail". The only other HMC school with a motto in Greek is Edinburgh Academy, founded in 1824.

The Brighton College Chapel

The chapel is unusual amongst British school chapels because George Bell, Bishop of Chichester created the school grounds as an ecclesiastical district outside the parish of St. Matthew's. The school chapel thus holds an episcopal licence to perform weddings for its residents, after banns; no archiepiscopal licence is required.

Current fees stand at circa £29,000 p.a for full time boarders and circa £17,000 p.a for day pupils in sixth form.

Lower School

The School plans on opening 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 will, in September 2009, 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.

The position of the Lower School's First head is taken by Miss Leah K Hamblett MA whose school title is technically Assistant Head - Lower School, but as with all female teachers at school will be addressed as "Miss".

The Lower School is expected to teach 80 pupils in total, with two classes in each year group.

Note: The Brighton College Prep School will still take 11 year old children into that school for the foreseeable future, as the Lower School does not replace years 7 and 8 at the Prep School.

Although the Lower School has its own head, it will be an integral part of the Senior School, where students will "encouraged to respect one another's differences in a climate that is warm and tolerant, and one which seeks to enthuse and challenge children to give of their very best."[8]

As With the rest of the Senior School, there are a small number of Bursaries and Scholarships available to new students at school.[9]


Musical activities

  • Advanced Composition - An after-school club where students are shown advanced compositional techniques.[10]
  • Barber Shop Group - A group for male singers at the school mainly singing American Barber Shop music.
  • Chamber Choir - A Choral group comprising mainly of the most advanced singers in the school, therefore including many Music Scholars.[10]
  • 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.[10]
  • Chamber Orchestra - A large ensemble for the best string players in the school to play Orchestral chamber music.[10]
  • 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[10]. The Chapel Choir released their album "The Truth From Above", recorded on 4 and 5 September 2005.[11]
  • Choral Society - A choral group requiring no singing experience, and open to all students, 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.[10]
  • 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.[10]
  • Saxophone Ensemble - This Ensemble is open to all of the college Saxophone players.[10]
  • Swing Band - A Similar ensemble to Concert band, but this band specialises in Swing and Jazz music playing many songs from popular music culture 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.[10]
  • 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.[12]
  • de Glehn Club - An activity allowing pupils of all ages to experiment with, and share ideas.[12]
  • Jackson Club - A club allowing GCSE and younger pupils, to partake in artistic activities such as watercolour and collage.[12]
  • 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).[12]
  • The Poynter Club - A GCSE dedicated club, to help with the "Drawing Element" which makes up a large part of their GCSE syllabus.[12]
  • 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.[12]
  • Digital Photography Club - The only club to exclusively deal with photography, and all associated areas. This club is open to all college students, although most members are currently taking an A level in Photography.[12]

Design technology activities

  • Workshop Skills - An introduction to skills and equipment used in the workshop. This activity is open to all college pupils.[13]
  • 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.[13]
  • Engineers Club - A hands on club, concentrating on the world of engineering, and teaches advanced Metalwork skills.[13]
  • 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.[13]


One of the strongest performing co-ed sporting independent school in Sussex, 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 and surrounded on all sides by housing and the college's sports hall.

The school also has a very successful old boys sporting network, particularly its rugby team who won back to back U21 National Old Boy titles in 2005 and 2006.

Other activities

  • Christian Union - A Student organisation bringing together the Christian contingent of the student body. They run "Lunchtime with a Difference" a union funded lunch each Monday lunchtime, where Christians, or other interested persons can go to discuss the Christian faith. In 2008, the leader of the Christian Union was Katie Sullivan, a member of the Upper Sixth[14]

Other clubs such as Bible study and Strictly Come Dancing regularly take place in school, but do not occur every year, so have not been added to this list.

Principals and Headmasters

Brighton College Gateway arch and Headmaster's Study, Dawson Building.
  • Rev. Arthur Macleane (1846)
  • Rev. Henry Cotterill (1851)
  • Rev. Dr. John Griffith (1856)
  • Rev. Dr. Charles Bigg (1871)
  • Rev. Thomas Hayes Belcher (1881)
  • Rev. Robert Chambers (1892)
  • Rev. Arthur Titherington (1895)
  • Rev. Canon William Dawson (1906)
  • Rev. Arthur Belcher (1933)
  • Christopher Scott (1937)
  • Walter Hett (1939)
  • Arthur Stuart-Clark (1944)
  • Roland Lester (1950) (acting)
  • William Stewart (1950)
  • Henry Christie (1963)
  • William Blackshaw (1971)
  • John Leach (1987)
  • Dr. Anthony Seldon (1997)
  • Simon Smith (2005) (acting)
  • Richard Cairns (2006)

The title of Principal was changed to Headmaster in December 1885.[15]. The requirement of a clerical headmaster was removed in 1909.[16]

Notable alumni


  • 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.
  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Pastoral Life at Brighton College". Retrieved 2009-09-15.  
  3. ^ "History and Ethos of Ryle House". Retrieved 2009-09-15.  
  4. ^ "Ryle House". Retrieved 2009-09-15.  
  5. ^ "History and Ethos of Abraham House". Retrieved 2009-09-15.  
  6. ^ BBC NEWS | England | Southern Counties | College makes Chinese compulsory
  7. ^ Brighton College - Army
  8. ^ "Entry at 11+". Brighton College.  
  9. ^ "Practical Matters". Brighton College.  
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Brighton College musical activities list". Retrieved 2008-07-18.  
  11. ^ Album Cover for The Truth From Above by Brighton College Chapel Choir
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Brighton College Art activities". Retrieved 2008-07-18.  
  13. ^ a b c d "Brighton College DT activities". Retrieved 2008-07-18.  
  14. ^ "Christian Union at Brighton College". Retrieved 2008-07-18.  
  15. ^ Jones, Martin (1995). Brighton College 1845-1995. Chichester: Phillimore. p. 67. ISBN 0-85033-978-2.  
  16. ^ Jones (1995), p.212

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