Schools in Bruton owe much to the historical figure Hugh Sexey. He was the son of poor parents but rose to become Auditor of the Exchequer from 1599 until his death in 1619. He passed some of his property to trustees who were employed in “charitable goodness” to establish Hugh Sexey’s Hospital, founded and endowed in 1638. The wide application of the charity for educational purposes arose in the nineteenth century.
Materially helped by the Sexey trust, Sunny Hill School, as it was originally named, was established in 1900 through the initiative of the Right Honourable Henry Hobhouse MP, greatly assisted by Mr W A Knight, Headmaster of neighbouring Sexey’s School, and others interested in education in the locality. Sunny Hill School was first set up as a private boarding and day school and in 1911 became a public secondary school, with an annual endowment from Hugh Sexey's Charity and grants from Somerset County Council. It continued as an Aided Secondary School until the passing of the 1944 Education Act when it became fully independent.
In 1961 the name was changed from Sunny Hill School to Bruton School for Girls, although locally it is often still referred to as “Sunny Hill”.
The Preparatory School was formed from the school’s growing junior department in 1997 and given the name of Sunny Hill Preparatory School. In 1998 the Preparatory School expanded to include a Nursery and Pre-Prep accepting pupils from 2 years of age.
A book on the history of Bruton School for Girls was written for the school’s Centenary celebrations in 2001. “Gleam Flying Onward: A Century of Bruton School for Girls” by David Parsons is available for purchase from the school.
The school motto “Follow the Gleam” is taken from a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in which the Gleam is the light of inner inspiration.