Founded in 1843 by local Methodists as the West of England Wesleyan Proprietary Grammar School, it became a Collegiate Institute of London University in 1846 and a centre for ministerial training, attracting scholarship boys from Kingswood and Woodhouse Grove schools. The name Queen's College was adopted in the Jubilee year of 1887.
Its first headmaster, Thomas Sibly, served from 1843 to 1882. Its buildings were designed by James Wilson. There was a change in status from the 1870s, following freer access to the old universities and the growth of civic universities. After an unsettled period, the headmastership of A.S. Haslam, 1899-1926 and of C.L. Wiseman, 1926-1953 saw its recovery, with Queen's becoming a Board of Management school in 1930. Under Sidney Haynes, 1953-1974, the school saw new growth, with additional premises: the Haslam Centenary teaching block and Reed Science Block, a new sports hall and the Queen's Hall music centre. The school has maintained its high academic standards and its reputation for games, music and drama. A new Drama and Arts building was opened in 2008. Among its former pupils are the rugby international J Clifford Gibbs, reputed to be 'the fastest wing-threequarters that ever played for England' and Peter Mitchell, Nobel prizewinner in Chemistry in 1978. In 2007 the school had 811 boarding and day boys and girls aged 4-18.