Ducklington: Education

Page 149

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 13, Bampton Hundred (Part One). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1996.

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In 1759 some 'well-disposed persons' were paying a schoolmaster in Ducklington to teach a few children; (fn. 1) similar support for teaching reading was noted in the 1770s, but in 1802 there was no school of any kind, the 'principal parishioners' sending their children to Witney schools. (fn. 2) The accessibility of Witney National school for older children was blamed for the failure to provide Ducklington schools. (fn. 3) In 1808 there was a dame school in Ducklington with c. 30 children, (fn. 4) and by 1815 there was a school with 12 boys, another with 22 girls. (fn. 5) In 1819 two young women taught 40-50 children, probably infants, at the parents' expense, and in 1831 some 30 or 40 children 'of the poor' were similarly taught. (fn. 6) In 1835 a Sunday school, begun by the rector in 1832, was attracting c. 75 children. (fn. 7)

Although an approach was made to the National Society in the 1830s the parish was said to have been unable to raise subscriptions to meet a grant. (fn. 8) For the Sunday school the Stricklands of Cokethorpe offered a schoolroom in a disused mansion (probably the 'Great House' demolished c. 1840), but declined the expense of fitting it out. (fn. 9) Ducklington's day and Sunday schools, supported chiefly by the rector, Thomas Farley, continued until the 1850s. (fn. 10) The day school, an infants' school run in her cottage by Hannah Fisher, continued on a small scale long after a National school was opened. (fn. 11) Another small school, remembered for teaching reading and arithmetic but not writing, was held in a cottage west of the Strickland Arms in the 1830s or 1840s. (fn. 12)

A National school and attached teachers' house overlooking Ducklington green were built in 1857- 8 on a site given by the Stricklands. The cost was met by subscriptions and a parliamentary grant. (fn. 13) In 1869 there were c. 40 pupils from the age of four, but the rector noted that numbers were low because 'the old dame school system lingers'; an attempt to establish an evening school failed. (fn. 14)

W. D. Macray, rector from 1870, immediately opened an evening school, which attracted a government grant, and placed the day school's finances on a sound footing. Profits from a sale of parish houses were used for school improvements in 1872. (fn. 15) In the later 19th century about half the school's income of £100-£120 came from subscriptions, school pence, and an annual contribution by the rector, (fn. 16) the rest from parliamentary grants. In the 1870s there were two mistresses but from 1884 one certificated teacher, usually aided by assistants or monitors who received nominal payments. (fn. 17) In 1872 there were 38 infants and 47 older pupils, and winter evening classes were attended by 15. (fn. 18) Accommodation was increased and by 1883 average attendance was 92; the rector's son continued to provide evening classes. (fn. 19) The infants' classroom was enlarged in 1896 and a third room added in 1901. (fn. 20)

The school was reorganized as a junior school in 1930. Senior children continued to attend Witney schools. Average attendance at Ducklington in 1939 was only 36, but numbers increased sharply as the village expanded in modern times; in 1970 the roll was 159. New school buildings on the opposite side of the green, opened in 1962, were extended in the 1970s. In 1994 the school roll was 144. In that year, to finance extensions, it was agreed to sell the old school buildings, which had continued in use for infants' classes after strong local resistance to closure. (fn. 21)

At Hardwick there was a mixed school with 11 pupils in 1815 and 20 in 1835, of whom 12 were supported by Frances Strickland of Cokethorpe. (fn. 22) The school survived until 1894, supported chiefly by the Stricklands with small contributions from St. John's College. (fn. 23) The pupils, usually fewer than 20, were taught in the teacher's house. (fn. 24)


  • 1. O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. d 555, f. 181; d 558, f. 196.
  • 2. Ibid. d 561, f. 187; d 564, f. 156; d 566, f. 113.
  • 3. e.g. ibid, d 574, ff. 104-5.
  • 4. Ibid. d 707, f. 57.
  • 5. Ibid. c 433, f. 81.
  • 6. Educ. of Poor Digest, H.C. 224, p. 723 (1819), ix (2); O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. b 38, f. 78.
  • 7. Educ. Enq. Abstract, H.C. 62, p. 746 (1835), xlii.
  • 8. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. b 38, f. 78; Magd. Coll. Mun., MS. 799 (v), Dec. 1903: brief hist. of sch. by W. D. Macray.
  • 9. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. b 38, f. 78. For the house, above, other estates.
  • 10. Wilb. Visit. 51.
  • 11. Cf. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. b 78, f. 157v.; Magd. Coll. Mun., MS. 799 (v), Dec. 1903.
  • 12. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. b 78, f. 157v.
  • 13. Magd. Coll. Mun., MS. 799 (i), Nov. 1888; ibid. MS. 799 (v), Dec. 1903.
  • 14. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 335.
  • 15. Ibid. c 344; ibid. MS. d.d. Par. Duckl. c 4, Mar. 1872.
  • 16. For the contribution, below, charities.
  • 17. Bodl. G.A. Oxon. 8° 622: printed sch. accts. 1871-96.
  • 18. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 338, ff. 144-5; Returns Relating to Elem. Educ. H.C. 201, p. 324 (1871), lv.
  • 19. Returns Relating to Elem. Educ. p. 324; Public Elem. Schs. 1875-6 [C. 1882], pp. 214-15, H.C. (1877), lxvii; Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1882-3 [C. 3706-1], pp. 717-19, H.C. (1883), xxv; Magd. Coll. Mun., MS. 799 (i), June 1886.
  • 20. Bodl. G.A. Oxon. 8° 622, s.a. 1896; Return of NonProvided Schs. H.C. 178 (1906), lxxxviii; Magd. Coll. Mun., MS. 799 (iv), Dec. 1900, Sept. 1901.
  • 21. Inf. from L.E.A.
  • 22. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 433, f. 81; Educ. Enq. Abstract, H.C. 62, p. 746 (1835), xlii.
  • 23. Magd. Coll. Mun., MS. 799 (v), Sept. 1904; Bodl. G.A. Oxon. 8° 622; Gardner's Dir. Oxon. (1852).
  • 24. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. b 70, f. 292; Returns Relating to Elem. Educ. H.C. 201, p. 324 (1871), lv.