Wolvercote: Education

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.

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A P Baggs. W J Blair. Eleanor Chance. Christina Colvin. Janet Cooper. C J Day. Nesta Selwyn. S C Townley, 'Wolvercote: Education', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990), pp. 324-325. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol12/pp324-325 [accessed 22 June 2024].

A P Baggs. W J Blair. Eleanor Chance. Christina Colvin. Janet Cooper. C J Day. Nesta Selwyn. S C Townley. "Wolvercote: Education", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990) 324-325. British History Online, accessed June 22, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol12/pp324-325.

Baggs, A P. Blair, W J. Chance, Eleanor. Colvin, Christina. Cooper, Janet. Day, C J. Selwyn, Nesta. Townley, S C. "Wolvercote: Education", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990). 324-325. British History Online. Web. 22 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol12/pp324-325.


There appears to have been no school in the parish before the beginning of the 19th century when dame or 'petty' schools were recorded. (fn. 76) A Sunday school, started in 1813 on the 'new' or National system, closed shortly afterwards for lack of financial support, and in 1815 the three day schools taught only 46 children. (fn. 77) In 1817, however, a National school, held in the glebe house and supported by subscriptions, including £2 2s. from Merton College, was attended by 101 children, and in 1823 the master was sent to London for training. (fn. 78) By 1825 numbers had risen to 120, each child paying 1d. a week, and in 1831, with the assistance of Merton College, St. John's College, and the National Society, a new girls' schoolroom was built. (fn. 79) In 1833 a total of 50 boys and 53 girls aged between 5 and 11 paid 11/2d. a week; the master and mistress received jointly £50 a year, a comparatively generous salary, and occupied the glebe house rent free. A small library attached to the school was well used by school leavers. (fn. 80) There was an infant department by 1854 when the total roll had fallen slightly to 91 and average attendance was 79. Subscriptions, including £3 a year from Catherine Rawson's charity, and the children's pence, were insufficient to cover expenses, and the incumbent was obliged to pay the difference himself. (fn. 81)

A new school was built on the glebe land immediately west of the church in 1855. (fn. 82) In 1859 the average attendance was 150, and the staff consisted of the master and mistress, an infant teacher, and two assistants; the school's normal income was still inadequate, and the incumbent was responsible for the annual deficit of c. £ 10. (fn. 83) By 1866 the school was receiving a government grant; it had accommodation for 103 and was attended by 51 boys and girls and 64 infants daily and by 100 children on Sundays; the vicar reported in 1868 that parents contrived to find school pence, 2d. a week for each child, even when living on credit at the shop. (fn. 84)

A school board was formed in 1874, but the school building remained the vicar's property, as it was on the glebe. (fn. 85) The building was enlarged in 1875 to accommodate 165 children, and between 1891 and 1894 to accommodate 227, the money being raised by public subscription. A new infants' schoolroom was opened across the road, south of the church, in 1898, bringing the total accommodation up to 295. (fn. 86) Despite some initial legal difficulties, the buildings were leased to the local education authority from 1904 until 1913 when the school, now with accommodation for 240, transferred to new buildings near the infants's schoolroom. (fn. 87) Two new classrooms were opened in 1938, bringing accommodation up to 416. (fn. 88) The school, which had been taken over by Oxford City after the boundary changes of 1929, became a junior mixed and infant school in 1963, seniors attending Cherwell Secondary school. In 1983 there were 172 children on the roll. (fn. 89)

In 1857 Thomas Combe built a schoolroom on the north side of Mill Street for evening classes for the mill workers. There is no further clear record of the school, although in the 1860s incumbents occasionally referred to evening classes in the parish. No evening school was reported in 1868. (fn. 90)

In 1815 the trustees of Catherine Rawson's charity determined to pay the incumbent £3 a year for the religious education of poor children. The money was added to the funds of the village school until it became a board school in 1874. In 1973 the income of the educational branch of the charity, £3.92, was used for rewards and prizes for poor children. (fn. 91) Mary Judge, widow of the vicar L. E. Judge, by will proved in 1862, bequeathed £100 to Merton College, the interest to be used for rewards for children at Wolvercote school. The college decided in 1862 to pay the school £3 10s. a year. (fn. 92) There is no later record of the charity.


  • 76. O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. d 569, f. 167; d 571, f. 157.
  • 77. Ibid. c 433, f. 226.
  • 78. Educ. of Poor Digest, H.C. 224, p. 733 (1819), ix B; Merton Coll. Mun., 1.4 (register, 1731-1822), pp. 604, 618, 625; ibid. 1.5, pp. 5, 15, 23, 50, 57, 63; O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. c 449, f. 65; c 634, f. 94; notebk. of T. Gregory (in possession of vicar of Wolvercote), p. 34.
  • 79. 12th Rep. Char. Com. 352; Gregory notebk. p. 109; St. John's Coll. Mun., Reg. viii, p. 429; Merton Coll. Mun., 1.5 (reg. 1822-76), p. 83; P.R.O., ED 7/169/230.
  • 80. Educ. Enq. Abstract, H.C. 62, p. 758 (1835), xlii; Village Educ. in 19th-cent. Oxon. (O.R.S. li), pp. xvii-xviii; P.O. Dir. Oxon. (1853).
  • 81. Wilb. Visit. 166; Rep. Com. on Children and Women in Agric. [4202-1], p. 334, H.C. (1868-9), xiii; P.R.O., ED 7/169/230.
  • 82. P.R.O., ED 7/169/230; Merton Coll. Mun., 1.5, p. 348.
  • 83. Ch. Ch. Arch., MS. Estates 69, f. 75.
  • 84. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 332, f. 473 v.; Returns relating to Pars. H.C. 114, pp. 344-5 (1867-8), liii; Rep. Com. on Children and Women in Agric. p. 334.
  • 85. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 344, f. 453; Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1895); Return of Income and Expenditure for every Public Elem. Sch. 1875-6 [C. 1882], pp. 216-17, H.C. (1877), lxvii.
  • 86. Merton. Coll. Mun., 1.5, p. 538; 1.5A, pp. 110, 190, 271; Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1879-80 [C. 2562-1], p. 677, H. C. (1800), xxii; Ch. Ch. Arch., MS. Estates 69, ff. 81-5, 88; Oxf. Chron. 14 May 1898.
  • 87. Oxon. Educ. Cttee. Reports, 25 Apr., 24 June 1904; P.R.O., ED 7/169/230.
  • 88. Oxf. Educ. Cttee. min. bk. 6, pp. 29, 225.
  • 89. Inf. from Oxf. Educ. Cttee.
  • 90. H. Carter, Wolvercote Mill, 36, 57; O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. c 335, f. 438; c 344, f. 453; Rep. Com. Children and Women in Agric, p. 334.
  • 91. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Wolvercote, b 5, f. 103 and v.; 12th Rep. Com. Char. 352; O.R.C.C. Kimber Rep.; Char. Com. files.
  • 92. Somerset Ho., will of Mary Judge; Merton Coll. Mun., 1.5, p. 412.