Founded by Henry VI and boasting a history dating back almost six centuries, Eton College is one of England’s oldest and most prestigious public schools (actually an exclusive fee-paying independent school) and one of only 4 remaining single-sex boy’s boarding schools in the UK. It’s also undeniably the most famous, with former scholars (traditionally nicknamed ‘Old Etonians’) including 19 British Prime Ministers, among them Winston Churchill and David Cameron; members of the British Royal Family, including Prince William and Prince Harry; writers like George Orwell and Ian Fleming; London Mayor Boris Johnson; and actors like Eddie Redmayne, Damian Lewis and Hugh Laurie.
It’s even made its mark on pop culture – fictional characters like Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey, Captain Hook and James Bond (who was expelled!) were described as having attended Eton and the college itself has served as a backdrop to films like Shakespeare in Love, Mansfield Park and My Week With Marilyn.
Today the boarding school has around 1,300 students, aged between 13 and 18, all of whom wear the iconic uniform of a black tailcoat, white tie and pinstriped trousers, and are split into administrative ‘houses’. The historic school is also notable for its architecture, with highlights including the medieval School Yard, the Gothic-style Chapel and the Cloisters Court. Visitors are able to tour the principal buildings and visit the on-site Museum of Eton Life and gift shop.
Eton College is located in Windsor, across the river from Windsor Castle, and is open to the public from March to October by guided tour only.