15 most expensive private schools in the UK, and the famous names that attended them

We list the most expensive private schools in the country and the notable alumni that attended, including Prince William, Kate Middleton, Benedict Cumberbatch and more

Wellington College is one of the most expensive private schools in the UK
(Image credit: Alamy)

With half term just around the corner, it's safe to say that families are well and truly back into the swing of the new school year, and likely ready for a break. You've likely already got the best school shoes, made sure your child has all the correct school uniform, and may have been testing out some new packed lunch ideas.

But for some parents, paying private school fees is part of the school year, so we're taking a look at the most expensive private schools in the country and finding out if they have any famous alumni. 

1. Brighton College - £64,920 per year

The most expensive private school in the UK is located in Brighton & Hove. Brighton College was awarded School of the Decade by The Sunday Times in November 2020 and it's not hard to see why. Boasting that the most common A Level grade achieved by its students in 2023 was an A*, Brighton College is also the home to impressive facilities including 18 science labs, a 25m swimming pool, music school, and a recital hall. But it all comes with a pretty hefty price tag of almost £65,000 per year for a full boarding experience. 

Notable alumni

  • Stanley Baldwin (former prime minister)
  • Archibald Primrose, Earl of Rosebery (former prime minister)

exterior of Brighton College, the most expensive private school in the UK

Brighton College is the most expensive private school in the UK

(Image credit: Alamy)

2. Concord College - £53,400 per year

For just over an eye-watering £53,000 per year, your child could attend Concord College in Shropshire, on a campus that stretches over 73 acres in a countryside setting. Concord College boasts an international mix of students, and a focus on academic excellence. 

Notable alumni

  • BBC's Glow Up winner and rising global make-up star Ophelia Liu
  • Pakistani cricketer Sharmeen Khan
  • West Ham United FC manager David Moyes used to coach the football team at Concord College

exterior of Concord College, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

Concord College

(Image credit: Alamy)

3. Hurtwood House - £52,227 per year

Known for its performing arts programme, it's no wonder Hurtwood House has a number of famous names on its roster. It also has a tagline of 'the most exciting school in England'. It claims to be less formal and less institutional than more traditional private schools, but still focuses on academic excellence, while also cultivating a passion for creativity.

Notable alumni

  • Hans Zimmer (film score composer)
  • Emily Blunt (actress; The Jungle Cruise, Mary Poppins Returns, The Devil Wears Prada)
  • Vanessa Kirby (actress; Pieces of a Woman, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Fast& Furious: Hobbs & Shaw)
  • Nikki Amuka-Bird (actress; Doctor Who, Netflix's Persuasion, Citadel)

Actress Emily Blunt looking out of the window of a train, still from the movie The Girl on the Train

Actress Emily Blunt attended Hurtwood House, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

(Image credit: Alamy)

4. Cheltenham Ladies' College - £50,700 per year

At the forefront of girls' education for more than 170 years, Cheltenham Ladies' College cultivates academic excellence and has consistently won awards, including the South West Independent Secondary School of the Decade accolade from The Sunday Times.

Notable alumi

  • Kristen Scott Thomas (actress; Four Weddings & a Funeral, The English Patient, The Horse Whisperer)
  • Cherry Healey (TV presenter; 10 Years Younger and a host of BBC documentaries)
  • Talulah Riley (actress, Pride & Prejudice, St Trinian's, Inception, The Boat That Rocked)
  • Amanda Wakeley (fashion designer)

Entrance of Cheltenham Ladies' College, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

Cheltenham Ladies' College

(Image credit: Alamy)

5. Harrow School - £50,500 per year

Founded in the 16th century under a Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I, Harrow School is an independent boys school, located in north-west London on a leafy 300-acre estate. 

Offering both day school and boarding, and a host of amenities, it commands excellence in academics and sports. 

Notable alumni

  • Winston Churchill (former prime minister)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch (actor; Sherlock, Dr Strange, The Imitation Game, The Grinch)
  • James Blunt (musician, songwriter)
  • Richard Curtis (screenwriter; Love Actually, Bridget Jones' Diary, Notting Hill)

Exterior of Harrow School, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

Harrow School

(Image credit: Alamy)

6. Eton College - £49,998 per year

Arguably one of the most famous private schools in the UK, thanks to the famous faces that attended, Eton College encourages all of its pupils to achieve academic excellence, and many of its students have gone on to have notable careers in politics, literature, and the arts. 

Notable alumni

  • Prince William
  • Prince Harry
  • Boris Johnson (former prime minister)
  • David Cameron (former prime minister)
  • Hugh Laurie (actor; Jeeves & Wooster, House, Friends)
  • Ian Fleming (author, James Bond series)
  • Tom Hiddleston (actor; Loki, Thor, The Night Manager, Kong: Skull Island)
  • Eddie Redmayne (actor; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl)

exterior of Eton College, one of the most famous and most expensive private schools in the UK

Eton College is one of the most famous and most expensive private schools in the UK

(Image credit: Alamy)

7. Tonbridge School - £49,944 per year

For just under £50,000 a year, your child could board at Tonbridge School, an independent boarding and day school in Kent. But if your child wants to take music lessons, you'll have to pay and extra £1,170 (per instrument) - it's not included in the annual fee.

Notable alumni

  • EM Forster (author; A Room With a View, Howards End, A Passage to India)
  • Norman Heatley OBE (biologist who turned penicillin into usable mass medicine)
  • Dan Stevens (actor; Downton Abbey, Beauty & The Beast, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga)
  • Tom Chaplin, lead singer of Keane

exterior or Tonbridge School, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

Tonbridge School

(Image credit: Alamy)

8. Winchester College - £49,152

Founded in 1382, Winchester College in Hampshire is known for its academic rigour, and was a boys school for more than 600 years, but started allowing both boys and girls to attend the day school as of September 2022. There are 94 listed buildings on its grounds, as well as 11 acres of formal gardens. 

Notable alumni

  • Joss Whedon (American screenwriter, known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Marvel's The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron)
  • Hugh Dancy (actor; Hannibal, Downton Abbey: A New Era, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Ella Enchanted)
  • Tom Sturridge (actor; The Boat The Rocked, Netflix's The Sandman)

exterior of Winchester College

Winchester College

(Image credit: Alamy)

9. Wellington College - £48,930

Located in Berkshire, Wellington College was named after the first Duke of Wellington and has been open since 1859. Originally a boys' school, it became fully co-educational in 2005.

It has previously been voted the Most Forward Thinking School in the UK, as well as being awarded the Best Senior School in Britain by Tatler.

Notable alumni

  • Thom Evans (rugby player)
  • James Haskell (rugby player)
  • Ellie Bamber (actress; Red, White and Royal Blue, Les Miserables, The Nutcracker and The Four Realms)
  • Rory Bremner (impressionist)
  • George Orwell (author; Animal Farm, 1984)
  • Will Young (singer, songwriter)

exterior of Wellington College, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

Wellington College

(Image credit: Alamy)

10. Malvern College - £47,985 per year

Founded in 1865, Malvern College is set in the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire and is a co-educational school with about 650 pupils. To attend and board, you will need to cough up an eye-watering £47,985 per year.

Notable alumni

  • Monty Don (British horticulturist, and presenter of Gardener's World)
  • CS Lewis (author; known for the Narnia series of books)
  • Jeremy Paxman (presenter, Newsnight, University Challenge)

exterior of Malvern College

Malvern College

(Image credit: Alamy)

11. Roedean School - £47,775 per year

Roedean School is a girls school located in East Sussex, founded in 1885, as is widely regarded as the Eton College for girls. In 2022, the school achieved its best ever results, with 71% of all A-Level grades being A*-A. 

Notable alumni

  • Rebecca Hall (actress; Vicky Christina Barcelona, Iron Man 3, Christine)
  • Rhona Mitra (actress; Sweet Home Alabama, Hollow Man, The Life of David Gale)
  • Verity Lambert OBE (television producer, known for being the original producer of Doctor Who)

exterior of Roedean School

Roedean School

(Image credit: Alamy)

12. Wycombe Abbey - £47,700

Founded in more than 125 years ago, Buckinghamshire's Wycombe Abbey is an all-girls school, which is highly regarded as one of the top all-girls schools in the country. 

Notable alumni

  • Eve Best (actress; Nurse Jackie)
  • Sally Phillips (actress; Bridget Jones' Diary, Smack the Pony, Miranda)

exterior of Wycombe Abbey, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

Wycombe Abbey

(Image credit: Alamy)

13. Charterhouse School - £47,535 per year

Located in Godalming in Surrey, Charterhouse School was founded in 1611 on the site of an old monastery. You might have also seen some of the Charterhouse School buildings on the screen - it's been used as a location in Netflix's The Crown, BBC's Bodyguard, and Mila Kunis movie Jupiter Ascending. It has a long list of notable alumni, including politicians, MPs, judges and barristers, and academics.

Notable alumni

  • David and Jonathan Dimbleby (TV presenters)
  • Peter Yates (Oscar-nominated film director)
  • Peter Gabriel (singer, songwriter)
  • Ben Adams (singer, from noughties boyband A1)

Boys playing cricket in the grounds of Charterhouse School

Charterhouse School

(Image credit: Alamy)

14. Benenden School - £47,400

Benenden School is an independent girls school in Kent. It boards more than 550 students between the ages of 11 and 18. It was founded in 1923 and is so popular that parents tend to register their children years in advance to secure a place.

Notable alumni

  • Princess Anne
  • Lady Victoria Hervey (socialite)
  • Ellie Kendrick (actress; Game of Thrones)
  • Sue Ryder, founder of the Sue Ryder Foundation
  • Rachel Weisz (actress; Black Widow, The Mummy, The Bourne Legacy)

black and white photo of Benenden School exterior, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

Benenden School

(Image credit: Alamy)

15. Marlborough College - £46,995 per year

Founded in 1843, Wiltshire-based Marlborough College was originally a boys school, but is now co-educational, with more than 900 pupils. It has a long-list of notable alumni including royalty.

Notable alumni

  • Kate Middleton
  • Pippa Middleton
  • Princess Eugenie
  • Siegfried Sassoon (poet)
  • Jack Whitehall (comedian and actor)
  • Dick King Smith (author, best known for The Sheep Pig, which was adapted into the movie Babe).

aerial photograph of Marlborough College

Marlborough College

(Image credit: Alamy)

If you're intrigued by the royal faces that attend private school, here's why Princess Charlotte's school fees are less than Prince George's, and the fun lessons offered at Prince Louis' school. It's also worth making a note of when to apply for primary school, as well as these first day of school traditions to start your child's academic journey in the best way possible.  

Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor - which means she writes about everything from this year's top toys and the newest toy releases, to discounts on days out and childcare costs. Sarah is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on the right toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.