With such a rich history, there is quite a lot to see at Eton. The school covers a large area and you can see a lot of it by simply strolling through the northern half of Eton town, although it is not possible to see inside the classrooms.

The best way to see Eton College is to take a guided tour, which lets you see areas of the school not normally accessible to the public. Tours focus on the school’s historical sights including the schoolyard, the College Chapel, the Upper School and the College Hall.

Eton College is widely regarded as the country’s most prestigious public school. In England and Wales the term ‘public school’ refers to the more established and most exclusive private schools, they are called ‘public schools’ because they were open to anyone in the public who could afford them.

The school was established by Henry VI in 1440, originally as a charity to provide free education for 70 students who would continue their education at King’s College at Cambridge. However, it was not long before Eton started accepting fee-paying students.

Eton now charges up to £12,910 per term with three terms per year, meaning that an education at Eton can cost almost a quarter of a million pounds. However, scholarships are available and around 70 of the school’s 1,300 pupils are educated free of charge with up to a further 270 pupils receiving some assistance towards their school fees.

Many wealthy parents consider an Eton education as money well spent. Eton has a knack at finding what a pupil is good at and nurturing that talent and it is ranked among Britain’s top three schools for pupils being accepted into its two most prestigious universities: Oxford and Cambridge. An education that includes Eton followed by Oxford or Cambridge is almost a guarantee for a successful career in politics and Old Etonians account for 19 British prime ministers plus members of the royal family including Prince William and Prince Harry and royalty from around the world including King Leopold III of Belgium and members of the royal families of Siam (now Thailand) and Nepal.

Outside politics, famous former pupils include prominent figures including Aldous Huxley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Orwell, Ian Fleming, Beau Brummell, John Maynard Keynes, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Bear Grylls, plus actors including Eddie Redmayne, Damian Lewis, Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston.

The school’s sports facilities are unparalleled and include two swimming pools, 30 cricket pitches, 24 football, rugby and hockey pitches and a gym. The school’s rowing course, Dorney Lake, was used as a venue during the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

Several sports were invented at Eton including the Eton wall game, the field game, and Eton Fives and in 1815 when it documented its football rules, it was the world’s first football code to be documented.

What to see at Eton College

With such a rich history, there is quite a lot to see at Eton. The school covers a large area and you can see a lot of it by simply strolling through the northern half of Eton town, although it is not possible to see inside the classrooms.

The best way to see Eton College is to take a guided tour, which lets you see areas of the school not normally accessible to the public. Tours focus on the school’s historical sights including the schoolyard, the College Chapel, the Upper School and the College Hall.

If you visit during school term, you will no doubt also see students dressed in Eton’s uniform (formal morning dress consisting of a black tailcoat, waistcoat, a false-collar shirt with a white tie and striped trousers).

The school also runs several museums including the Museum of Eton Life, the Eton Museum of Antiquities and the Eton Natural History Museum. These three museums are open only on Sunday afternoons, although people taking the Friday afternoon guided tour are able to visit the Museum of Eton Life as part of their tour.

The Museum of Eton Life

There is a museum in the undercroft below the College Hall, where beer was stored for the boys up until the early 20th-century. As pupils are no longer served a daily beer at the school, this space became available for the Museum of Eton Life, which has interesting displays depicting the school’s history and the culture of daily life at Eton.

Visiting Eton College

Eton College takes up most of the northern portion of Eton town. Essentially if you walk up Eton High Street, the school starts just after the point where the shopping strip ends. It is around a 15-minute walk from the centre of Windsor and a half-hour walk from the centre of Slough.

Tours of Eton College

Tours of Eton College are run at 2pm and 4pm on Fridays between 4 May and 7 September. Tours take 90 minutes and cost £10. Tours need to be booked online but if spaces are available you can sometimes turn up on the day, 15 minutes before the tour start time (1.45pm or 3.45pm on Fridays) at the tours booth, which is accessible via the gate to the College Chapel graveyard on High Street.

Security searches take place before each tour and you cannot take large bags on the tour.

Visiting the Museum of Eton Life

The Museum of Eton Life is located in Brewhouse Yard, which is accessible via Baldwin’s Shore. It is only open on Sunday afternoons 2.30pm–5pm.

Amenities
  • Guided tours (paid)

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