In the autumn of 1847, the small building known as the Depot was being prepared for its new function as the home of the Thomas Phillips Foundation. It was located near Llandingat Church and prior to its use as a National School it had served as an armoury for the Royal Carmarthenshire Fusiliers. In January 1848, it was announced that the school would open on St David’s Day 1848.
Llandovery College was endowed in 1847 and opened at a time when the quality and quantity of education in Wales left much to be desired. A philanthropic desire to provide good education in Wales was one potent reason for Phillips’ action. Llandovery was to be the fountain of a sound liberal education, “the object of the Founder being the dissemination of useful and practical knowledge in Wales and the raising both morally and intellectually of the character of its people." Llandovery College was intended to give Welsh boys a route to the great universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
Phillips was strongly influenced by a deep concern for the Welsh language. Not only was the Welsh language to be taught regularly and systematically, but it was also for some portion of the day to be the sole medium of communication and instruction.
Llandovery was decided upon “because of its central position and because of easy communication with all parts of South Wales”. Also important was “the great beauty and healthiness of the locality and the absence of manufacturing industries".
The subjects to be taught were Welsh, English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arithmetic, Algebra, Mathematics, History and Geography and other subjects. If the Welsh language was to cease as a means of communication, instruction in Geology, Mineralogy and Chemistry should be substituted.
On 13 December 1849, the foundation stone of the present building was laid.