The school was founded in 1842 as the School for the Sons of Missionaries. It began life as a small boarding school catering for children of missionaries serving overseas - in India, China and countries in central and southern Africa.

It moved to its present extensive site, now over 60 acres of playing fields surrounding an elegant 18th century mansion, Fairy Hall, in Mottingham in 1912. Since the 1950s Eltham College has become a day school, primarily for boys with a co-educational Sixth Form.

Eltham College's most famous former pupil, Eric Liddell, the 400 metres Gold Medalist in the 1924 Paris Olympics, and Mervyn Peake, author of the Gormenghast trilogy, were both sons of missionaries.

An awareness of others' needs and misfortunes is an ever-present element in Eltham College's ethos. Community Service is an important part of the Sixth Form Curriculum, with every pupil spending time working with the elderly or handicapped, or assisting in care homes and local primary schools. Charity work is also highly valued, and staff and pupils organise many fund-raising activities every term for worthy causes of a local, national and international focus.

The link with the missionary background continues through our House System, the names of the four Houses referring to four missionaries who traveled the world: David Livingstone in Africa, William Carey in India, James Chalmers in Papua New Guinea, and Robert Moffat in Southern Africa. The House system provides many opportunities for all members of the school community to take part in intra-mural competitions, and for senior pupils to develop their leadership and organizational skills.

The Chapel remains a potent symbol of our heritage: it is the spiritual heart of the school, with daily acts of worship being led by the Chaplain, Headmaster, visiting speakers or other staff. The Chapel window, designed by a parent, places the images of our missionary past next to the education of children in a modern world. Central to the whole window are the images of Eric Liddell and the magnificent plane tree which dominates the school's site.