Brighton College is an independent, co-educational boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 3 to 18 in
Brighton Brighton () is a seaside resort and one of the two main areas of the City of Brighton and Hove in the county of East Sussex, England. It is located south of London. Archaeological evidence of settlement in the area dates back to the Bronze Ag ...
, England. The school has three sites: Brighton College (the senior school, ages 11 to 18); Brighton College Preparatory School (children aged 8 to 13, located next to the senior school); and the Pre-Prep School (children aged 3 to 8). Brighton College was named England's Independent School 2019 of the Year by ''
The Sunday Times ''The Sunday Times'' is a British newspaper whose circulation makes it the largest in Britain's quality press market category. It was founded in 1821 as ''The New Observer''. It is published by Times Newspapers Ltd, a subsidiary of News UK, wh ...
''. In 2018 it was ranked fifth in the country for average
A-level The A-Level (Advanced Level) is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education, as well as a school leaving qualification offered by the educational bodies in the United Kingdom and the educational aut ...
results, with 99% of grades being A*–B. In 2011, Brighton College opened its first international campus in Abu Dhabi. Brighton College International Schools (BCIS) has subsequently opened campuses in Al Ain, Bangkok, Dubai and Singapore.


Founded in 1845 by William Aldwin Soames, Brighton College was the first Victorian public school to be founded in
Sussex Sussex (), from the Old English (), is a Historic counties of England, historic county in South East England that was formerly an independent medieval Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Sussex, kingdom. It is bounded to the west by Hampshi ...
. Soames originally planned for use of the Brighton Pavilion, but after refusal by
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and 216 days was longer than that of any previo ...
, built the school in the suburb of Kemptown, Brighton. The school occupied a niche in the development of English secondary education during the 19th century. Activities 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) Brighton College led the legal fight to secure the charitable tax status currently enjoyed by all registered charities. A long-running legal action between the school and the
Inland Revenue The Inland Revenue was, until April 2005, a department of the British Government responsible for the collection of direct taxation, including income tax, national insurance contributions, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, corporation ta ...
from 1916 to 1926 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 in 1924, the Court of Appeal later that year, and ultimately the House of Lords in 1925. It was the first independent school to introduce compulsory Mandarin Chinese from the age of 13, and in 2006 was the first public school in England to sign a deal with the Chinese government to encourage the teaching of Mandarin and Chinese culture. Large numbers of Brighton College boys fought in both World Wars, with 149 Old Brightonians fallen in
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
and 173 during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposing ...


The pastoral system at Brighton College is
house A house is a single-unit residential building. It may range in complexity from a rudimentary hut to a complex structure of wood, masonry, concrete or other material, outfitted with plumbing, electrical, and heating, ventilation, and air condi ...
based. There are 15 houses which are split by gender (with the exception of Alexander House). Staff of both sexes can be attached to any house. Houses contain between 48 and 85 pupils and are supervised by a house master or house mistress (HMM) and a team of personal tutors. Boarding houses also have a matron and house keeping staff. The HMM appoints Upper Sixth Formers (Year 13) as house prefects to look after and mentor younger members, and one as head pupil to represent their house at house events and competitions. In September 2017, Brighton College's 14th house was opened, Alexander House. This was the first mixed-gender house in the college and is only for the Upper Sixth formers who decide during their Lower Sixth year that they wish to move into this house, with all members coming from other boarding houses. In their final year, roughly half of boarders choose to enter the house. For years 7–8 there is a single house, Lower School, for those aged 11,12 and 13 years old who took the 11+ test. This house does not have boarding and is for both boys and girls..

List of houses


* England's Independent School of the Year 2012 – The Sunday Times * England's Independent School of the Year 2019 – The Sunday Times * England's Independent Secondary School of the Decade 2010–2020 – The Sunday Times * England's Public School Headmaster of the Year 2012 by ''
Tatler ''Tatler'' is a British magazine published by Condé Nast Publications focusing on fashion and lifestyle, as well as coverage of high society and politics. It is targeted towards the British upper-middle class and upper class, and those interes ...
'' magazine.

Site and buildings

Brighton College is located in Brighton's Kemptown area, in the east of the city. The school occupies three sites, facing south onto Eastern Road. It is immediately to the east of the site of the former Kemptown railway station, across Sutherland Road. Its principal buildings are in the gothic revival style by
Sir George Gilbert Scott Sir George Gilbert Scott (13 July 1811 – 27 March 1878), known as Sir Gilbert Scott, was a prolific English Gothic Revival architect, chiefly associated with the design, building and renovation of churches and cathedrals, although he started ...
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). 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. Under the stewardship of Head Master Richard Cairns, the school has added a series of buildings to the college campus: * 2008: the Alexander Arts Centre * 2011: The Skidelsky Building (winner of a RIBA award) * 2011: the new Pre-Prep school * 2012: the Diamond Jubilee Pavilion (winner of a RIBA award), a new cricket pavilion at the school's fields near East Brighton Park. It was opened by the Earl and Countess of Wessex in July 2012. * 2012: the Simon Smith Building (winner of a RIBA award) * 2013: New House (winner of a RIBA award) * 2014: Cairns Tower (winner of a RIBA award) * 2015: The Music School and Sarah Abraham Recital Hall (winner of a RIBA award) * 2017: Alexander House * 2017: The Kai Yong Yeoh Building (RIBA nominee; Sussex Heritage Trust Award nominee) * 2020: the School of Sports and Science - this £55 million building, which includes 18 university-standard laboratories, a rooftop running track, swimming pool and double-height sports hall, was designed by the Rotterdam-based
Office for Metropolitan Architecture The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) is an international architectural firm with offices in Rotterdam, New York, Hong Kong, Doha, and Australia. The firm is currently led by eight partners - Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf, Ellen va ...

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.


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.” Parental consent must be provided in order for a pupil to choose their uniform, and a pupil must wear either the "trouser uniform" or the "skirt uniform" in totality rather than a combination of the two. In addition, such a choice must be made on a permanent basis. In 2017 the school invited Stonewall Ambassador
Ian McKellen Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. His career spans seven decades, having performed in genres ranging from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction. Regarded as a British cultural ...
to share its anti-bullying message. The school has regularly made headlines for its pro-LGBT stance, emphasising the right of all pupils to feel safe and supported. For the 2013–14 academic year the school appointed the first openly gay head boy of an English independent school. In August 2017 the school participated in the Brighton Pride Parade, becoming the first public school in the United Kingdom to do so. The float was backed by Ian McKellen. This has become an annual event for the school, with pupils and staff designing and making the float. The school positions community service as a “vital part of school life”. Pupils are involved in 328 days of community service a year – which includes visiting elderly people, teaching pensioners about technology, and working with local community initiatives. The school is recognised as having an ethos of kindness and respect, in addition to academic excellence. The school's most recent
Independent Schools Inspectorate The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) is approved by the Secretary of State for Education – under section 106 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 – to inspect independent schools in England. These schools are members of associations, ...
report summarises:


For the 2018/19 academic year the fees were £23,160 for day pupils. Boarding ranged from £33,390 - £37,470 pa. The school offers a number of scholarships and bursaries, offered on the basis of merit and need.


In the 2019 A-level examinations Brighton College achieved 99% A*B (82%A*/A). In the 2019 GCSE examinations they scored 94% 9–7. Class sizes at GCSE average 18, and at A-level they average 8. 26 subjects are offered at A-level. The school has an extensive co-curriculum provision, with the option of “over 100 clubs and activities” in which pupils may participate. This includes drama (with 15 productions a year), dance (7 styles of dance and 70 classes per week), music (22 music groups) and art (100% A* results). The school has an ethos of "sports for all" and offers a range sport choices. The major sports are athletics, cricket, netball and rugby. All pupils participate in games of their choice twice a week. The college was selected to provide training ground for
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the nor ...
during the course of Rugby World Cup 2015. Going forward,
England England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separated from continental Europe by ...
Head Coach Eddie Jones,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the nor ...
coach then, has hosted the elite player squad training camps at the college.

Principals and head masters

*Rev. Arthur Macleane (1846) *Rev. Henry Cotterill (1851), subsequently Bishop of
Grahamstown Makhanda, also known as Grahamstown, is a town of about 140,000 people in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is situated about northeast of Port Elizabeth and southwest of East London. Makhanda is the largest town in the Makana L ...
Edinburgh Edinburgh ( ; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interchangeably Edinburghshire before 1921), it is located in Lothian ...
*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 Victoria College is a Government-run, fee-paying, academically selective day schoolChrist College, Brecon *Rev. Arthur Titherington (1895) *Rev. Canon William Dawson (1906), formerly Headmaster of Corby Grammar School and
The King's School, Grantham The King's School is a British grammar school with academy status, in the market town of Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. The school's history can be traced to 1329, and was re-endowed by Richard Foxe in 1528. Located on Brook Street, the s ...
*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 Steyning Grammar School is a coeducational day and boarding, senior school and sixth form, located in Steyning, West Sussex, England. The school has two lower school sites catering for Years 7 and 8. The original site was located in Church Str ...
*Roland Lester (1950) (acting) *William Stewart MC (1950), subsequently Master of
Haileybury and Imperial Service College Haileybury is a public school (English independent day and boarding school) near Hertford in England. It is a member of the Rugby Group and, though originally a major boys' public school in the Victorian era, it is now co-educational, enr ...
*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 Head Master in December 1885. The requirement for the Head Master to be an ordained priest of the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the established Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain ...
was removed in 1909. Note: Simon Smith returned to his position as Second Master after Richard Cairns took leadership in 2006.

Notable alumni and members of staff

Brighton College Abu Dhabi

In 2010, Brighton College announced that it was "helping to set up schools in
Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi (, ; ar, أَبُو ظَبْيٍ ' ) is the capital and second-most populous city (after Dubai) of the United Arab Emirates. It is also the capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the centre of the Abu Dhabi Metropolitan Area. ...
". This venture was a for-profit franchise operation through a company the school had set up, Brighton College International Schools Ltd, in a joint venture with a UAE property development company called 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. Law was replaced by Ken Grocott, former Head of Geography at Brighton College, in September 2012.

See also

* Brighton College Preparatory School



*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) . *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). * *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

Official websiteAlumni websiteCollege makes Mandarin compulsory
* ISI Inspectio
(Senior School) {{Authority control Independent schools in Brighton and Hove Educational institutions established in 1845 Member schools of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference Boarding schools in East Sussex George Gilbert Scott buildings