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King's History

Limited Places Available for September 2024 Entry

If you're still to make a decision about where to start your child’s schooling, have you considered King’s College Pre-Prep? We have some limited availability for admissions this September.

King’s College, or King Alfred’s School as it was originally named, was the fifth of Nathaniel Woodard’s schools when it opened in 1880. Woodard chose to dedicate his new school to Alfred the Great (871 to 899), the west-country King who laid the foundations of what would become the kingdom of England. Amongst Alfred’s legacies was his advocacy of education. He aspired ‘to set to learning… all the free-born young men now in England who have the means to apply themselves to it’.

In 1879 Woodard had the opportunity to acquire in Taunton a new, state-of-the-art school built by another educational pioneer William Tuckwell. Tuckwell had rebuilt the old Taunton Grammar School endowed by Bishop Richard Fox in 1522, into a new forward-looking school on South Road which he called Taunton College School. However, the new building had been costly, and financial difficulties with creditors led to its sale to Nathaniel Woodard and the grammar school returning to its original premises in the centre of Taunton.


Woodard chose to use Bishop Fox’s badge of the Pelican in its Piety for King’s. The parent bird drawing its own blood, taking its own life to feed its children, is a powerful symbol which can be found in many Christian settings. The school’s motto was chosen as Fortis et Fidelis or Brave and Faithful.

The Woodard Schools have a history 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 a daughter of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, whose son and grandson attended King’s at the same time. Girls have been educated in the Sixth Form on the King’s College site since 1968 and the school introduced full co-education in 1991.

The King’s site is forever changing. New facilities are erected and old ones re-imagined on a yearly basis. For 140 years the school has developed to reflect changes in education and society.


From the start in 1880, the school had sections for Juniors (8 to 12-year-olds) as well as Seniors (13 to 18-year-olds). The Juniors had their own accommodation, classrooms and staff centered around the ‘Junior Landing’ on the first floor of the main building. Since 1952 the junior school has been based in the stunning setting of Pyrland Hall, a Georgian mansion overlooking Taunton.


The School’s Archive Centre contains documents, photographs, objects and audio-visual resources relating to the history of King’s, its staff and pupils. The displays and resources are available to visitors by appointment on Mondays and Thursdays during term time.

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 M.Ar.Ad, RMARA
Archives Centre
King's College
South Road
Taunton TA1 3LA

01823 328243
Fax 01823 328202


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