A BC Conference proprietary grammar school for boys from 1847, it began as a private school, Prospect House, founded in 1834 by Samuel Thorne. Its headmaster from 1864 until his retirement in 1909 was Thomas Ruddle, under whom new premises were opened in 1878, when the name 'Prospect College' was adopted. Land given by Sir Samuel Way in 1891 made extensions possible, marking the school's jubilee. Under John Rounsefell (1909-1933) it became a Direct Grant school in the 1920s. Leslie Johnson, headmaster from 1933 to 1942, was a Cambridge blue and fostered the school's sporting record, especially in rugby. Numbers trippled under John B. Morris (1942-1964) and under him the Memorial Hall was opened in April 1959, and a new science block, opened in 1961 by Charles A. Coulson. The school was taken over by the Board of Management in 1951. Buckland House, acquired in 1984, became the junior school.
Its roots are firmly in the North Devon countryside and for over 50 years until 1975 it accepted pupils funded by the local authority. Girls were first accepted as pupils in 1990. Local support in 1993 led to the withdrawal of proposals to merge the school with Edgehill College on the Bideford site. In 1997 there were 343 boarding and day boys and girls aged 3 - 18. Many of its early pupils went as missionaries to Australia and Canada.