Eton College is the most famous Public School in Great Britain. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI, one year before establishing King's College at Cambridge University. King Henry VI founded the school to provide King’s College at Cambridge with scholars.
Originally there were 70 King’s Scholars or ‘Collegers’ who lived in the College and were educated free, and a small number of ‘Oppidans’ who lived in the town of Eton and paid for their education.
Henry VI intended Eton College to have the largest and most magnificent pilgrimage church in England. The King endowed the school with royal lands and holy relics to ensure a good income. The school buildings were erected and the massive church was started in 1448.
The College Buildings date from the 15th Century
Part of the fascination of Eton College today is its wonderful collection of 15th century buildings still in use by the school. The buildings on the north side of School Yard date from 1443. College Hall, (the Refectory) and Cloister Court were completed by around 1450.
Disaster struck in 1461 when Henry VI was deposed by Edward IV who removed all the grants and holy relics from Eton College to St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. Legend has it that Edward’s mistress intervened on behalf of the College and got some of the lands back. Naturally this drop in income meant that Eton College had to curtail some of its plans.
Beautiful Gothic Perpendicular Chapel
Only the Choir had been built in the pilgrimage church and was still unroofed. The Provost of the College came to the rescue and roofed the Choir with a wooden roof and finished the church off with the Antechapel (1479-82). The ‘disaster’ has given us the beautiful Gothic Perpendicular Chapel that we see today.
In 1520 the third side of School Yard was built by Henry Redman whose work can also be seen at Hampton Court. The building is known as Lupton’s Range with Lupton’s Tower in the centre. This is probably the most photographed building in Eton College. In front of the tower is an early 18th century bronze statue of the founder, King Henry VI in his Garter Robes. The final side of School Yard was completed in 1689-94.
School of Choice for Royal Families world wide
Today Eton College is an independent, fee-charging, boys-only, secondary or high school. It has approximately 1,290 boys between the ages of 13 and 18, all of whom are boarders within the College. It has long been the school of choice for the British Royal family and royal families from India and Africa. It is steeped in tradition and many distinguished and famous people are ‘Old Etonians’.
Visiting Eton College
Both casual visitors and groups may join the guided tours conducted at 14:00 and 15:15 on some Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and daily during Eton College's holidays. Check with the Visits Manager on Tel: +44 (0)1753 671 177 to ensure there is a tour on your preferred day. There is a tour fee.
Tickets can be purchased from the Eton College Gift Shop, between 11:00 and 15:30 on the day or from the entry desk, which is located at the end of College Chapel and reached by walking through the church yard. Visitors are welcome - Daily Tours cater for individuals and small groups (fewer than 8) throughout the season.
Current building work is restricting Public Visitor access. Click on the link below for up to date information on when Public Visits will resume. Web: Eton College/ Public Visits
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Contact and further Information
When Traveling from London:
- By Mainline Rail
Two railway companies service Windsor and Eton. There is a choice of either South West Trains or Thames Trains.
- South West Trains runs half hourly services from London Waterloo Station direct to Windsor & Eton Riverside Station. Riverside Station is a short walk to both Windsor and Eton town centres. The train journey takes around 50 minutes.
- Thames Trains run from Paddington Station to Slough Station (journey time around 14 minutes depending on the train). Change at Sough to connect with the train to Windsor & Eton Central Station (journey time about 6 minutes).
Windsor & Eton Central Station is conveniently situated just behind Thames Street and close to Windsor Castle. Enjoy the views of Eton College and the Castle as the train approaches over the raised brick arches and crosses the River Thames on Brunel's 1849 ‘Bowstring Bridge’'.
Use the Web: National Rail Journey Planner to select time of travel and to book your tickets.
- By Bus
Green Line coach Route 702 to Windsor - Coaches run hourly. Go to Web: Green Line Coaches website
Green Line Coach Terminal is close to Victoria Coach Terminal in London. Access is across the Elizabeth Street bridge from Victoria Coach Terminal. Green Line coaches take passengers to Windsor town centre stopping outside Windsor Parish Church (opposite the Guildhall) in High Street.
Coach Return to London
Again the coach stop is almost opposite the Parish Church, down from the Guildhall in High Street.
Note the last coach back to London leaves at 19.35. Visitors should confirm coach times on the Green Line website above.
- By Car:
Traveling by car is difficult as parking is limited and motor homes are not allowed into the town centre. Public transport from London is very good.
- Coach Sightseeing Tours:
There are a number of coach tour operators who offer day tours from London to Windsor or incorporate Windsor in a day tour of Stonehenge and Bath.
Google Maps - Eton College