History

Brighton College 1848

Founded in 1845 by William Aldwin Soames, who collected a group of likeminded local citizens to join him in the task, Brighton College was the first public school to be founded in Sussex. It has gothic revival buildings by Sir George Gilbert Scott RA (flint with stone dressings, 1848-66) and Sir Thomas Graham Jackson RA (brick with terracotta dressings, 1883-1887; flint with stone dressings 1922-1923).

The school occupies a significant niche in the development of English secondary education during the nineteenth century: it helped to promote the use of individual classrooms for teaching small groups; it was an early pioneer in teaching both modern languages and science, and later erected the first purpose-built science laboratory (1871); it invented the school magazine (1852) and set up the first gymnasium (1859). The school's own development also questions the 'traditional' account of how the Victorian public schools developed - at Brighton, the school started with a ban on the use of corporal punishment (which lasted until 1851); the school captain was elected by universal suffrage among the entire pupil body until 1878, when a prefectorial system was also introduced; games remained voluntary until 1902 (and team members had chosen their own captain and awarded colours to their outstanding players until 1878). In other words, the emerging public schools did not all automatically follow a common model or implement a common blueprint developed by Dr Arnold at Rugby School.

Later, Brighton College fought the legal battles that secured charitable tax status now enjoyed by all recognised non-profitmaking organisations. A running battle between the school and the Inland Revenue 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 all the way to the High Court [June 1924, 40 T.L.R. 763-5], the Court of Appeal [November 1924, 1 KB 312] and the House of Lords (November 1925, AC 192-204).