Kingswood School

Kingswood School
Motto Latin: In Via Recta Celeriter (In The Right Way Quickly)
Established 1748
Type Independent School
Religion Methodist
Headmaster Simon Morris
Chairman of Governors Tim Westbrook
Founder John Wesley
Location Lansdown Road, Fonthill Road and College Road
51°23′56″N 2°22′12″W / 51.399°N 2.370°W / 51.399; -2.370Coordinates: 51°23′56″N 2°22′12″W / 51.399°N 2.370°W / 51.399; -2.370
Students 768[1]
Gender Mixed (boys-only before 1972)
Ages 3–18
Houses 7

Red and Black

Former pupils Old Kingswoodians
Member of Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference
Mascot Wyvern

Kingswood School, referred to as 'Kingswood', is an independent day and boarding school located in Bath, Somerset, England. The school is coeducational and educates some 950 children aged 3 to 18. It is notable for being founded by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, in 1748. It is the world's oldest Methodist educational institution[2] and was established to provide an education for the sons of Methodist clergymen. It owns the Kingswood Preparatory School, the Upper and Middle Playing Fields and other buildings.


Kingswood School was founded by John Wesley in 1748 in Kingswood (then known as King's Wood) near Bristol and was established initially for the children of local colliers.[3] They were joined by the sons of the itinerant ministers (clergy) of the Methodist Church.[4] After Wesley's death, Rev Joseph Bradford was appointed as the first governor in 1795.[5] Woodhouse Grove School was founded in 1812 and was linked with Kingswood as a prep school for much of the nineteenth century. Created in 1995, Kingswood Prep School currently has 300 pupils.[6] The total number of students educated on the Kingswood School campus between the ages of 3-18 is 960.[6][7]

The 1862 book How it was done at Stow School written by Theophilus Woolmer seems to have been based upon the author's own experiences at Kingswood (rather than Stowe School which was not yet established) under the notorious headmaster Crowther who enforced harsh discipline in the school in the 1820s.[5]

The school moved to its present location on the northern slopes of Bath in 1851.[8] The old site was occupied for a while by an approved school. The present site is in the midst of 218 acres (0.88 km2) of the former Lansdown estate of the famous nineteenth-century millionaire eccentric, William Thomas Beckford.[9] The Upper Playing Fields, comprising some 57 acres, are to the north of the senior school and include an athletics track and tennis and netball courts.[9]

Sons of lay people were first admitted to the school in 1922.

1939 This stone 1946

from the buildings of
Uppingham School
records thanksgiving
for friendship and

preservation in exile
This stone

from the buildings of
Kingswood School
records enduring
gratitude for friendship

and preservation 1939-1946

During World War II the Kingswood buildings were requisitioned by the government and used by the Admiralty for military planning purposes. The school was evacuated to Uppingham School and continued to function there.[10] The Mulberry harbours used on D-day for the landing on the Normandy beaches were designed at the school and for many years it was thought that they were named after the Mulberry tree that still exists outside the front of the school, whereas Mulberry was simply the next code word on a list. The Moulton Hall was named after old boy Lord Moulton but was remodelled as a library/learning resources area in 2006,[11] and is now called the J O Heap library following a generous bequest by another Old Boy. During World War II the younger boys were moved to Prior's Court, an estate owned by Colonel Gerald Palmer, MP for Winchester. After the war the estate was purchased from Colonel Palmer and run as a Preparatory School until it was sold in 1997.[12] A small number of boys (around six) started in the Junior house (Westwood) before the war, moved to Prior's Court on the outbreak of war, on to Uppingham and finally back to Kingswood at the war's end. In memory of the event a stone was taken from the Kingswood library, engraved and set in the Uppingham buildings. An Uppingham stone was likewise sent to Kingswood and incorporated in the library wall. The inscriptions on the stones are shown in the accompanying boxes.[13]

Some girls were admitted to the Bristol site in the early days before the school became boarding only.[3] Girls were admitted to the school in its current form from 1972.


Like other public schools, Kingswood pupils are divided into Boarding Houses for both living convenience and sporting competitiveness. Each boys house is paired with a girls house (Upper with School, Hall with Fonthill and Middle with Summerhill), this is mainly for social events and unisex sports fixtures (e.g. sports day). Families tend to have strong 'house allegiances' going back generations.

Pupils are sorted into one of six houses in Year 9:[14]


  • Upper (day boys), house colours are yellow and black.
  • Middle (day and boarding boys), house colours are green and white.
  • Hall (day and boarding boys), house colour is maroon.


  • School (day girls and sixth form girl boarders), house colours are grey and pink.
  • Summerhill (day and boarding girls), house colour is blue.
  • Fonthill (day and boarding girls), house colour is red.

Junior House

  • Westwood (day and boarding for boys & girls in years 7 and 8), the largest house with approximately 170 day children and 30 boarders. No specific house colour. Only boarding house to house both girls and boys. Boys sleep on the top floor, whereas girls sleep on the 3rd floor.

There is a hierarchy of student leadership within the school. The head boy and girl, the deputy head boy and girl, the heads of all six houses and on some occasions some extra people who are not head of houses are incorporated into a body known as the 'PR'; - a name which originated from the 'Prefect's Room' where they were once based. They are allowed to wear a black tie with the school's crest on the front. Under the PR there are 'Senior Prefects' which usually total around 20 members of the upper sixth, that carry out the same duties of the PR at breakfast, lunch and supper — but don't have as much glory as the main members of the PR.[15] They are allowed to wear a silver tie with the school's crest on the front. Lastly there are the house prefects which make up most members of the upper sixth, they wear a silver tie with a wyvern symbol pattern on the front, they carry out duties like, watching the boarders in prep time (or homework time) and turning boarder's lights off at lights out.

In keeping with tradition Chapel attendance is compulsory at least once a week on a Friday, that normally lasts around 45 minutes to an hour. Often, there is at least one other time where pupils participate in a small 20 minute Chapel service.


Kingswood has a reputation for encouraging sports, with boys playing rugby, hockey and cricket and girls playing hockey, netball, tennis and athletics (boys also do tennis and athletics). Kingswood competes with all other public schools in Somerset and most Kingswood boys consider King Edward's School, Bath and Prior Park College as their main rivals due to their close proximity and history of rivalry. Sporting achievements within the school are awarded by the presentation of "Colours", first by a special tie and then a special blazer.

Kingswood Theatre

Used by the school during term time and available for hire during school holidays, Kingswood Theatre is on the site of the senior school. The theatre was officially opened in 1994 by Sir Edward Heath and completed a partial refurbishment in 2010. The theatre has 375 seats with a capacity of 450.[16] The theatre has been used by BBC Question Time on a number of occasions.[17]

Model United Nations

Kingswood hosts a Model United Nations conference, known as the Bath International Schools Model United Nations (BISMUN). Delegates attend from schools worldwide.[18]


The School is greatly involved with ecology, and has implemented a number of projects to promote the importance of the environment and reduce waste at the school. Kingswood was one of the first schools in the area to adopt the Eco-schools project and be awarded its Green Flag. It has since begun outreach work with other local schools, including Batheaston Junior School. The school was awarded its third Green Flag in 2010.[19]

Kingswood-Oxford School

George Nicholson, an alumnus of Kingswood School, Bath, established a school for boys of the same name in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1916. This new institution inherited some of the traditions of its counterpart in Bath, including the School's crest, motto, colors and distinctive symbol, the Wyvern. In 1969 the school merged with the Oxford School for girls into the new Kingswood-Oxford School.[20]

Kingswood College, Grahamstown

Kingswood College in Grahamstown, South Africa, was founded in 1894[21] and derives its name and ideals from Kingswood school in Bath. They also use the same distinctive Wyvern crest and abide by the same Methodist ethos.

Notable alumni

See also Category:People educated at Kingswood School, Bath.

Former students of Kingswood School are known as old Kingswoodians. Notable former students include:

Victoria Cross holders

Two Old Kingswoodians have been awarded the Victoria Cross

See also


  • Hastling, A.H.L.; W. Addington Willis; W.P. Workman, The History of Kingswood School (1898)
  • A. G. Ives, Kingswood School in Wesley's Day and Since (1970)
  • John Walsh (ed.), A.B. Sackett: A Memoir (1979)
  • Gary Best, Continuity and Change, Kingswood School through the Ages (1998)


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