When Kingswood opened in 1748 it initially provided education for a small number of the sons and daughters of John Wesley's colleagues and friends. It was soon restricted to boys only, all of whom were the sons of Methodist preachers and leaders. The School eventually outgrew its original site in Kingswood in Bristol and moved to its present, stunning location in Lansdown, Bath in 1852. Kingswood started taking boys from families other than those of Methodist ministers and, by the mid-1920s, the school was educating approximately 300 boarders.
In December 1938, Sackett, the Headmaster was secretly informed that the Government would need to take over the school buildings and in 1939 the Admiralty commandeered the school and the boys and staff were evacuated to Uppingham School in the East Midlands. Kingswood became an important base for the Ministry of Defence and the final designs for the Mulberry Harbours, so critical to the success of the D-Day landings in 1944, were produced at the school.
Additionally Westwood, acquired as a preparatory school in 1933, was evacuated in 1939 to Prior's Court near Newbury. It was designed to make the boys as happy as possible, work on their own projects and to undertake research, which placed the school at the time at the forefront of progressive education. Westwood became a junior house in 1946 and, in 1991, Hermitage House became the day preparatory school for Kingswood in Bath. The preparatory school moved into new buildings on the Summerhill Estate in 1995 and then in 1998, when Prior's Court closed, the school's preparatory provision was once again consolidated into one day and boarding school on the Bath site.
In 1951 Sackett started admitting more students from overseas, recognising the importance of enabling different cultures to come together. Pupils from India, the Gold Coast and Thailand were some of the first international students to board at Kingswood, a trend that has continued up until today.
In 1972 Kingswood, under Campbell's leadership, returned to its co-educational roots with seven girls joining the Lower Sixth and, in September 1978, 23 junior girls of varying ages in Forms One to Four arrived - a return to the original vision of Wesley who had initially offered places to both boys and girls.
After its move to Bath, Kingswood became recognised as one of Britain's great schools and many educational institutions around the world have been founded on its principles. Today, through the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges, and Universities, Kingswood is linked to many places around the world that are at the forefront of education. Creativity, kindness, and a respect for scholarship remain some of the distinguishing marks of the school.
Over the past thirty years the School has grown significantly in size and embraced more day students alongside its boarders enabling the School to develop much stronger links with the local community. Today there are nearly 800 pupils in the senior school and over 300 in the Prep School and a new Nursery, taking children from the age of six months, is due to open in 2018.