Eaton House Schools has grown from one pioneering London prep to a thriving family of five schools. Rich in notable alumni, it has always combined tradition with a modern approach to educating boys and girls

Eaton House Schools is a stalwart of the London education scene, now encompassing five schools across two historic sites – one in the heart of Belgravia and the other overlooking leafy Clapham Common. Last year, it celebrate its 125th birthday. It champions single-sex education, with co-ed nurseries, and is known for giving boys and girls the strong start needed for top schools and a bright future.

Roots: Eaton House Schools' focus on the future
Principal Sarah Seagrave and some Manor pupils

The founder of the original Belgravia boys’ school was Thomas Sale Morton, a renowned Classics scholar and author – also tutor to the young Harold Macmillan. Indeed, it was the future UK Prime Minister’s mother Helen (Nellie) Artie Tarleton Belles who encouraged the gifted educationalist to establish a prep school. It opened in 1897 and was known originally as Cliveden Place Preparatory School and inhabited 35 Cliveden Gate, moving several times to accommodate its swelling cohort, before a 1937 relocation to the premises at 3 Eaton Gate that still forms part of the school today.

During World War II, pupils were evacuated to Haines Hill, a stately home in Berkshire. When the school returned to the capital a year after the War, 5 Eaton Gate was purchased in order to manage growing pupil numbers for the school – by now known as Eaton House. Morton had handed over the reins to Robin T. Gladstone (said to be a relative of William Gladstone) in 1910 and the Ingham family – previous owners of Westminster Kindergarten Preparatory School – took charge in 1959.

Girls' Clubs And Camps
Eaton House girls and boys have exceptional opportunities to explore their interests – in and out of the classroom

The late 1970s brought an exciting chapter under the visionary stewardship of the Harper family, Hilary Harper, newly married to Don Harper, bought the school in 1977. She was then Head of the Junior School and already had 14 years’ service with the school. Under the Harper family’s leadership, the school went from strength to strength academically, becoming known for outstanding results in the 7+ and 8+ exams for the boys under its charge.

“Eaton House alumni over the years include actors Sir Laurence Olivier and Eddie Redmayne, author Philip Pullman and adventurer Bear Grylls”

The Harpers spotted the future Eaton House The Manor when they were driving through south- west London. This fine Georgian manor overlooked Clapham Common Northside and was a significant local landmark. Known as Byrom House and ‘The Beeches’, it offered both space and huge potential. The Harpers took it on as a project, developing the 1.5-acre site as a nursery, pre-prep and prep. Eaton House The Manor opened in 1993 and rapidly became an integral part of Clapham life. Like its Eaton House Belgravia sibling, Eaton House The Manor developed an exceptional academic reputation and growing cohort. Further refurbishment took place from 2003 and five years later, it opened a separate girls’ school. This meant Eaton House The Manor now offered a co-ed nursery with single-sex pre-prep and prep education for boys and girls on one site. Facilities have been added over the years, including an underground gym, new labs and a theatre. It has also championed sustainability – from generating over half its own electricity to supporting wildlife with its 300 square metres of green roofs and its ‘living walls’. It also continues to shine academically – with 38 scholarships and a Starred Pass to Eton for boys’ and girls’ schools in 2022 alone.

Huw May became Headmaster of Eaton House Belgravia in 2017 and the school now educates boys aged 2-11 on one site in Eaton Gate, and with a co-ed nursery. Alongside that early beneficiary Harold Macmillan, other notable alumni include actors Sir Laurence Olivier and Eddie Redmayne, author Philip Pullman and adventurer Bear Grylls. It has an outstanding reputation for sending boys on to schools such as Westminster, St Paul’s and King’s College Wimbledon.

Belgravia Boys
Eaton House Belgravia pupils – the school has inhabited the same 3 Eaton Gate site since 1937

Hilary Harper retired in 2016, and her daughter Luchie Cawood took over. A new chapter began in 2021 when Eaton House Schools joined the Dukes Education family. Sarah Seagrave – Headmistress of Eaton House The Manor since 2016 – took on the role of Principal of the Group in September 2022. While a tailored approach to develop each pupil’s academic potential has always been Eaton House Schools’ philosophy, strong pastoral care, creative and sporting opportunities and a spirit of giving back are equally embedded. Generations of children have been educated across the two sites in Belgravia and Clapham, becoming a familiar site thanks to their distinctive uniforms and participation in community life. Wherever children’s talents and passions lie, the approach at Eaton House Schools has always been the same – to ensure they flourish.

Eaton House Schools

Further reading: The history of Queen’s Gate School