Queen's College traces its origins back to 1858 to "Mr Ham's school" in a sparsely furnished outbuilding in the frontier village of Queenstown. Despite the efforts of respected educated stalwarts like Mr Frederick Beswick who devoted 32 years (1867 to 1899) to laying the educational foundations of the Queen's College of today, the prospects of establishing a really great school in Queenstown looked bleak until 1910. In that year the school, which was moved to its present site in 1897, was given the name Queen's College. At the same time the school badge was designed - featuring a kudu (reflecting the historical municipal seal of Queenstown) and a crown (symbolising Queen Victoria, after whom Queenstown was named). The respected Headmaster, Mr Herbert Wilkinson, who led the school for 25 years, also coined the school motto: Esse Quam Videri (To be rather than to seem).
The school continued to grow in size and stature and under Mr Archibald Parry Davies, who was headmaster from 1930 to 1940. Queen's began to develop a distinctive character and spirit. The school's prowess in the academic, sporting and cultural spheres became known far and wide and it began to attract pupils from all over South Africa and as far afield as Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
Today, Queen's College still draws pupils from all over Southern Africa. With its extensive modern school, hostel and playing field facilities, its highly motivated professional teaching staff, and its excellent well-rounded educational programme, the College has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Queen's is proud of its heritage and holds onto many cherished traditions. The core of the old stone school buildings (dating back to 1897) was retained when a new purpose-designed modern school complex was built in 1973. Many valuable reminders of the school's debt to the past are housed in the Queen's College Museum in the "Old School", which was itself declared a historical monument in 1980.
All that remains of Mr Ham's original school is the lectern on the stage of the Memorial Hall (the present school hall). It was made out of a yellowwood beam salvaged from the old school outbuilding when it was demolished in 1949.