Bradfield College

Bradfield College is a British co-educational independent school for day and boarding pupils, located in the small village of Bradfield in the English county of Berkshire. It is noted for producing plays in Ancient Greek and its Greek Theatre.

St Andrew's College, Bradfield (Bradfield College)
, ,

TypeIndependent boarding school
Private school
MottoBenedictus es, O Domine doce me Statuta Tua
(You are blessed, Lord: teach me your laws)
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
FounderRev. Thomas Stevens, Rector and Lord of the Manor of Bradfield
Department for Education URN110121 Tables
HeadmasterDr Christopher Stevens
Second MasterAndy Logan
Staff120 (approx.)
Age13 to 18
Colour(s)     Light blue
     Eton Blue
PublicationThe Bradfieldian
Former pupilsOld Bradfieldians

The school is a member of the Rugby Group, which also includes Harrow, Shrewsbury, Wellington College and Charterhouse.

The college was founded in 1850 by Thomas Stevens, Rector and Lord of the Manor of Bradfield. It has around 490 male and 320 female pupils.


According to the Good Schools Guide, "Thoroughly unpretentious yet with lots to boast about, Bradfield is a heavenly place to learn and to grow. Very difficult to imagine who would not thrive here. There’s something for everyone and lots for all." [1]

The school, which admits pupils between the ages of 13–18, has been fully co-educational since September 2005. All first years pupils (Fourth Formers) enter a first year boarding house (Faulkner's) and then, from the second year (known as the Shell), they move to their main boarding houses for the remaining four years.

The school motto is the Latin; Benedictus es, O Domine doce me Statuta Tua which means "You are blessed, Lord, Teach me your Laws."


Bradfield College was founded in 1850 by Thomas Stevens. Stevens had inherited the parish from his father in 1842, having been in his family for four generations. As a tribute to his father, he set about restoring the church. Sir Gilbert Scott (one of whose architect sons, John Oldrid Scott, was later to marry Thomas Stevens's eldest daughter, Mary Anne) was commissioned to effect the restoration. It was decided that the majority of the church, except the tower, should be demolished and rebuilt in a style influenced by that of gothic architecture. After the completion of the church in 1848, Stevens saw it fit to arrange a choir. While the whole village were able to sing, they were not felt to be of a high enough standard. It was proposed that a college be established at Bradfield, to be called St Andrew's College. The college was to be for the education of a limited number of boys between the ages of 8 and 12, with all to be from modest backgrounds. Their education was to be based upon 'true Church principles', with focus to be paid on reading, writing, mathematics, and music, and later on, classics and history.

The first headmaster to be appointed was F. B. Guy in 1852. The headmaster was to be under control of the college Warden, who would be responsible for the principal governance of the college. Soon after the formal establishment of the college, all references to 'true Church principles' were dropped, with the focus now being on providing an education like that of other British Public Schools.[2]

By 1880 there were eight master and 75 boys (far fewer than the founder's aim of 300); creditors were petitioning for the school's bankruptcy given debts of £160,000;[3] by 1900 there were 292 students, making the school more financially viable.

The Greek play

Bradfield is renowned for its Greek plays and Greek Theatre. The first Greek play, Alcestis, was performed in the original language in 1881. The play was put on by Headmaster, Herbert Branston Gray[4] to save the school from bankruptcy and was inspired by the performance of Agamemnon at Balliol College, Oxford in 1880, directed by F. R. Benson, who stage-managed the Bradfield performance and took the role of Apollo.

The Greek play is normally performed on a three-year rota. The students who act in them receive no formal training in speaking Ancient Greek, and have only nine months to learn the lines and direction, while keeping up with their other studies.

The Greek Theatre was based on that at Epidaurus and built in a disused chalk pit. It opened in 1890 with a performance of Antigone. The 2006 play, Euripides’s Medea, directed by John Taylor, was noted for including the addition of projected subtitles and incorporating the orchestra into the skēnē, using a ramp covered in sand and flooded to symbolise the sea and Medea's situation of being "between places".

The Greek Theatre closed in 2009 for restoration and, following a £1.3 million appeal, reopened with a performance of Antigone on 20 June 2014.[5] The College decided not to rebuild the Victorian temple in the middle of the performing area because such "temples" are not true to the design of ancient Greek amphitheatres. The smaller skēnē creates space, making the performance of the plays easier and enabling the theatre to be used for other drama including Shakespeare.


Dr Christopher Stevens succeeded Simon Henderson as Headmaster in September 2015. Stevens was educated at Tonbridge School and then read Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University, from where he received his MA. He began his teaching career as a college lecturer while researching for a DPhil in Italian literature at Oxford University. He then established a school in France for Ashdown House, the boarding prep school in Sussex. He joined Uppingham School in 1997 where he was master-in-charge of cricket and a housemaster for nine years. In 2011 he moved to Marlborough College, and was Second Master until his appointment at Bradfield.

Other information

In September 2010 the Blackburn Science Centre was opened. The building includes green elements such as a bio-mass boiler, green roof and solar panels.

Since September 2012 Bradfield has offered the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) alongside the traditional A Level pathway.

In Summer 2015 Bradfield received an outstanding inspection report from the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

The oldest building is College gateway, which incorporates part of a barn of 1382. The wrought iron was made by the village blacksmith.

Each August, the college serves as the 'base camp' for the Bradfield Ringing Course, which aims to improve the standard of change-ringing in the United Kingdom.[6]


Bradfield has 12 boarding houses in total. All first years pupils (Fourth Formers) enter a first year boarding house (Faulkner's) and then, from the second year (known as the Shell), they move to their main boarding houses for the remaining four years.

House Abbr. Hsm. Gender
Faulkner'sLF. Wall & M. BlackburnFemale & Male
Loyd HouseAJ. PrestonMale
Army HouseCA. GoldingMale
D House (House on the Hill)DR. SanfordMale
Stone HouseEJ. SaundersMale
HillsideFC. CarlierMale
G House (House on the Hill)GT. GoadMale
The CloseHJ. HanburyMale
Palmer HouseIL. RowlandsFemale
Armstrong HouseJA. CocksworthFemale
Stevens HouseKC. van der WesthuizenFemale
Stanley HouseMH. PetersFemale

Notable Old Bradfieldians

Notable staff

See also


  2. A History of Bradfield College (1900)
  3. Spencer, Julian (May 2015). "Gray of Bradfield". The Trusty Servant. 119: 7–9. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  4. ODNB article on Gray, Herbert Branston (1851–1929)
  5. "Tragic tale marks new start for amphitheatre" Archived 2014-07-15 at the Wayback Machine Henley Standard 16 June 1914
  6. "Bradfield Ringing Course". Retrieved 6 January 2019.

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