Cheltenham College opened in 1841 as a day-boys’ preparatory school for educating the sons of gentlemen. The first of the major public schools of the Victorian period, the school owed much to the support of reverend Francis Close, who was the founder of Cheltenham's great tradition of education. By 1868 it had extended its age range and accepted both day boys and boarders.
It is now an Independent fee paying school governed by Cheltenham College Council, taking both boarding and day pupils. In 1981 girls were admitted to the Sixth Form and in 1998 to all other years. Part of the college is also Junior School with a pre-prep department for children from the age of 3.
The main building built in 15th century Gothic style with a central tower dates from 1841 and was designed by James Wilson from Bath. The College chapel was added in 1896, built after the King's College, Cambridge. A refined example of wood carving can be found on the south wall panelling, carved by H. H. Martyn & Co., a famous local firm.
At the south side of the main building, across the road, is Thirlestaine House, which was built in 1823 at the cost of £80,000 as private residence of J. R. Scott, who also designed it. The classical portico copied from the Parthenon in Athens was enlarged by the next owner, Lord Northwick, who used the building to display his large collection of paintings. The next owner Sir Thomas Phillipps was a keen bibliophil, who acquired some 100,000 books and 60,000 manuscripts. The college purchased the house in 1947 for £31,326.
A great number of activities are on offer during afternoons, ranging from arts, drama and dance to astronomy, clay pigeon shooting, rock climbing and polo. There are fine facilities for sports and games, with high standards achieved. There is a large orchestra, a chamber orchestra, a wind band, three jazz bands and a Chapel choir.
The College has a library with a large book collection covering most subjects but mostly English, Classics, History, Sport, Arts, Religious Studies and Science. Most subjects have their own libraries, attached to their departments, specialising in that particular subject.
Boarders (Tuition and Board) £8,205 per term
Day pupils (Tuition) £6,150 per term