Once described by Alan Paton as the most beautiful school in South Africa, Hilton College is situated on a 1600 hectare estate looking out towards the Karkloof hills. The Reverend William Orde Newnham must have been equally impressed when he arrived at the farm “Upper Hilton” owned by his friend, Gould Arthur Lucas, to open a “Collegiate Institution” on 29 January 1872. He came with his wife and three young children, Mrs Dore the nurse, some fifty boys and fifty pounds. The English public school system was followed – rugby and cricket were played, a mounted cadet unit was established and Hilton boys became notable for learning, gentlemanly behaviour and rugby football.
Under successive Headmasters, Hilton College has developed its own personality due to its unique heritage and magnificent environment. The Fleur-de-Lys and the motto “Orando et Labarando” (by work and prayer) were adopted by the second master, Henry Vaughan Ellis, an old Rugbeian, to show the affinity between Hilton College and Rugby School in England. The Hilton College of today is a far cry from that humble school of 1872. There are now 555 pupils and many special and excellent staff at the school makes it one of the leading schools in the country.