Christ College, Brecon

This article is about a school in Wales. For other colleges of the same name, see Christ College (disambiguation).
Christ College
Motto "Possunt Quia Posse Videntur"
("They achieve because they think they can achieve")
Established 1541
Type Independent day and boarding
Religion Anglican
Headmistress Emma Taylor
Deputy Headmaster Simon Spencer
Founder Henry VIII
Location Brecon
Wales, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51°56′46″N 3°23′43″W / 51.9462°N 3.3954°W / 51.9462; -3.3954
Local authority Powys
DfE URN 401984 Tables
Staff 40 approx.
Gender Co-educational
Ages 7–18
Houses St. Nicholas (boys and girls aged 7–11)
Alway (boys and girls aged 11–13)
     Donaldson's (including Bannau Annexe) (girls aged 13–18)
     Orchard (boys aged 13–18)
     St. David's (boys aged 13–18)
    School (boys aged 13–18)
     de Winton (girls aged 13–18)
Colours Green and Gold
Publication The Breconian
Former pupils Old Breconians

Christ College, Brecon is a co-educational, boarding and day independent school, located in the market town of Brecon in mid-Wales. It currently caters for pupils aged 7–18 years.

Christ College was founded by Royal Charter in 1541 by King Henry VIII. The Chapel and dining hall date from the 13th century when the site was occupied by a Dominican order Priory.

The school has been ranked in the top three of all UK Independent Schools in terms of "Value for Money" by the Financial Times newspaper. In February 2011, HM's Inspectorate for Education & Training in Wales, Estyn, (equivalent to OFSTED in England) declared Christ College's performance to be "excellent" – the highest grade that can be awarded. In 2015, 92.4% of GCSE grades were A*-C, with 45% at A* or A grades. With the A-Levels, 55.7% of results were at A* or A grade, whilst the overall pass rate (A*-E grades) was at 99.5%.


There are seven houses in the school, consisting of three senior boys' houses: St David's, Orchard and School; two senior girls' houses: de Winton and Donaldson's (with a sixth form annexe, Bannau); and one Lower School house, Alway House, for boys and girls aged 11–13. In September 2014, St Nicholas House opened which welcomes boys and girls aged 7–11.


The history of Christ College falls into three periods. For three hundred years it was a Dominican friary; in 1541 Henry VIII established a school on the site and finally in 1855 the modern 'public' school was founded by Act of Parliament. The surviving buildings and architecture reflect each of the three periods. The Dominicans were friars who first came to Britain in 1221; they are first mentioned as being in Brecon, in 1269. Given that range of dates and the evidence of the surviving medieval buildings, it is likely that the friary was founded c.1250.

The chapel is an example of thirteenth century work, though like all the medieval buildings it was much restored by Gilbert Scott in the nineteenth century. More survivals are the two halls with their fifteenth century open timber roofs. Of the cloister, chapter house and other monastic buildings nothing remains but their position can be deduced from documents. In the 1530s momentous changes affected England and Wales. Henry VIII brought all of Wales under his control; this involved the creation of new Welsh counties, including Breconshire. At the same time the King made himself the Head of the Church and then dissolved the monasteries. This combination of events resulted in the foundation of 'the College of Christ of Brecknock' in 1541 to provide education in this area and thus would 'the Welsh rudeness soon be framed to English civility'.

Like many schools founded in the sixteenth century, Christ College suffered dramatic changes of fortune. The maintenance of the buildings was a constant struggle given the relative poverty of the original endowment, or more accurately the reluctance of prebendaries to disgorge part of their income to the College. The English Civil War caused devastation at the hands of the notorious Roger Thomas of Llanfrynach; repairs were carried out by Bishop William Lucy after 1660. By the middle of the nineteenth century the College buildings were ruinous and there were few pupils. A new start was imperative. A committee of local landowners, clergy and businessmen came to the rescue and the school was refounded by Act of Parliament in 1855. As in 1541 political considerations again played a part; this time the threats of Chartism and Dissent prompted conservatives and Anglicans to action.

The new boarding school needed buildings and the Llandaff diocesan architects, Prichard and Seddon, were employed to provide them. The present School House building is theirs; so too is much of the furniture in the chapel. Expansion during the next thirty years produced Donaldson's House and the 'Big School', now the Library.

In the second half of the 20th century, more building work was completed; this was necessary both to expand the facilities available and to meet the changing needs of what is now a co-educational boarding school. In 1985, Christ College first welcomed girls, and in 1995 it became fully co-educational welcoming girls alongside boys at the age of 11.

Christ College is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain. There are now 380 pupils at Christ College Brecon with an increasing number of girls and many students from Breconshire and neighbouring counties as well as from overseas, including China, Germany, Spain, Japan and the USA. In September 2014 the school extended the age range that it caters for when it welcomed day pupils aged 7–11 into its new Junior section, St Nicholas House.

Cricket ground

The first recorded match held on the college cricket ground came in 1888, when the college played Llandovery.[1] In use for the entire 20th century, the ground was used by Glamorgan for a List A match against the touring Zimbabweans.[2] The Glamorgan Second XI used the college ground for Second Eleven Trophy matches, firstly in 1996 when they played the Somerset Second XI and secondly in 1997 when they played the Hampshire Second XI.[3]

Old Breconians


External links

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