King's History

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King's College, Taunton is a Woodard School and so part of the largest group of Church of England schools in England and Wales. This unique partnership is united by a determination to give priority to the Christian focus developed by Nathaniel Woodard between 1847 and 1891 when he founded ten schools.

King's College was founded as King Alfred's College School on 26 October 1880, the anniversary of the death of King Alfred. The roots of the school go back to Bishop Fox Grammar School in the town centre. This was founded in 1522 by the Bishop of Winchester, Richard Fox, a key figure in Henry VII's Privy Council. Bishop Fox had a pelican at the heart of his crest and that powerful symbol of the parent bird drawing its own blood and taking its own life to feed its children remained with the school (by 1867 called Taunton College School) when it was moved from its site in Corporation Street to South Road in 1869. In 1879 educational pioneer, Canon Nathaniel Woodard, bought the school and renamed it King's College.

A boys' school for 13-18 year olds, King's College initially became co-educational in 1968 with the introduction of 6th form girls. It is now a fully co-educational school.

Our archivist Mrs Alison Mason is always keen to hear from people who have school material or recollections that they wish to add to the school archives. For any queries, or donations to the archives please use the contact information below:

Mrs Alison Mason MArAd, RMARA
Development Office
King's College
South Road,
Taunton TA1 3LA

Tel: 01823 328238
Fax 01823 328202



King’s College, Taunton was founded by Nathaniel Woodard, a highly practical and charismatic educational pioneer. His vision to provide strong academic teaching, relevant to a changing world, coupled with an emphasis on strong faith and caring for the needs of the whole child was hugely innovative at the time and came to be much copied by other public schools.

King’s College was the fifth school founded by the energetic Nathaniel Woodard. In 1879 he had the opportunity to acquire Taunton’s Bishop Fox Grammar School. Established in 1522 by one of King Henry VII’s councilors, this school had recently moved to new state-of-the-art premises on the edge of town. The school had some of the best science facilities in the country, thanks to its pioneering Headmaster William Tuckwell, and a reputation for educational innovation.

Woodard named his new school King Alfred's School, soon popularly known as King’s College, and it was opened on 26 October 1880, the anniversary of the death of King Alfred. Its former pupils became known as Old Aluredians or OAs. The school continues to be part of the Woodard Trust, the largest group of Church of England Schools in the country.

King’s College maintained the badge of Bishop Fox, a pelican, a powerful symbol of self-sacrifice for the greater good as the parent bird was believed to draw its own blood to feed its children. The school motto is ‘Fortis et Fidelis’ – strong and faithful.

From the start in 1880 the school had a separate section for Juniors (8-12 year olds) as well as Seniors (13-18 year olds), a tradition which the school maintains although younger pupils today have their own premises at King’s Hall School in the stunning setting of Pyrland Hall, a Georgian mansion overlooking Taunton.

The Woodard Schools also have a long tradition of educating girls, as well as boys, in the Taunton area. From 1922 to 1953 St Katherine’s, Heatherton Park (on the Taunton-Wellington road) was the sister school to King’s. Its alumni included Princess Aida Desta, the daughter of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, whose grandson attended King’s at the same time. Girls have been educated in the Sixth Form at King’s from 1968 and today the school is fully co-educational.

<h2>Archive Trail</h2>

Archive Trail

Welcome to King’s College, Taunton or King Alfred’s School as it was originally named in 1880. The choice of King Alfred, the King of Wessex from 871 to 899, who aspired ‘to set to learning … all the free-born young men now in England who have the means to apply themselves to it’ was very apt for the school’s founder Canon Nathaniel Woodard. He too was an educational innovator who created a series of schools where relevant, modern academic teaching was coupled with spiritual education to care for the needs of the whole child. His ‘One Idea’ inspired the support of Prime Ministers, captains of industry and churchmen alike. In 1879 Woodard had the opportunity to acquire in Taunton the brainchild of another educational pioneer William Tuckwell. His state-of-the-art school on the edge of town had some of the best science facilities in the country and a reputation for academic excellence. Originally named Bishop Fox Grammar School (established in 1522 by Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester and one of King Henry VII’s closest councillors) Tuckwell had rebuilt and re-invigorated the old institution into a new forward-looking school, Taunton College School. It had however run into financial difficulties with its creditors and had to be sold. Click on the Archive Trail boxes below to begin your journey into King's past.

Use the boxes below to navigate through our Archives Trail.

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