Bampton and Weald: Education

Pages 58-60

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



Robert Veysey of Chimney, by will proved 1635, left £200 to endow a free school at Bampton, and another £100 to erect a stone building 'with ashlar work'. (fn. 1) Nothing had been done by 1650 when John Palmer, one of the trustees, left a further £100 providing that Veysey's will was performed, but by 1653, when the first master was appointed, a single-storeyed ashlar schoolhouse with attics and pitched stoneslated roofs had been built on former parish land on Church View. (fn. 2) Henry Coxeter (d. 1654) bequeathed £10 and Richard Dewe (d. 1684) £50, (fn. 3) and in 1695 three closes near later Calais Farm, estimated at c. 12 a., were bought and vested in trustees. (fn. 4) A cottage and garden west of the schoolhouse were bought with voluntary contributions in 1783 for an incoming master. (fn. 5) In 1784 Mary Frederick (d. 1785), Elizabeth Snell (d. 1788), and Susannah Frederick (d. 1798) purchased annuities yielding £16 a year to augment the master's salary, on condition that he should teach English and arithmetic free to 10 boys chosen by them or their trustees; Susannah also invested £100 left by her aunt Mary Croft (d. 1719) to teach 12 poor boys and girls of Bampton to read the bible, which legacy Mary's executors had evidently neglected. Since the school took only boys, the Croft income, £5 8s. in 1824, was shared between the master and a schoolmistress, who taught the girls elsewhere; the girls and their endowment were transferred to the National school in 1812, and the boys in 1824, the master's share having been unclaimed and allowed to accrue since 1817. (fn. 6) In the early 19th century dividends from £300 bequeathed by Susannah towards Bampton Sunday schools were divided between the same master and mistress with a small amount used for books, but passed in 1824 to the National school. (fn. 7) In 1750 the master's total income exceeded £20; (fn. 8) by the early 19th century it included c. £50 rent and c. £17 from the Frederick endowments, the Croft income being then received by an undermaster, but by the 1860s it was only c. £36. (fn. 9)

The first master, William Jackson, was a 'noted grammarian' formerly of Charlbury school. (fn. 10) A successor in the later 17th century was a pauper student of Queen's College, Oxford. (fn. 11) By the early 18th century the school seems to have been less exclusively concerned with classics teaching than some local grammar schools: both the Croft and Frederick endowments stipulated elementary education, and although in 1732 all boys 'fit to be taught Latin' were to be admitted for fees of 2s. 6d. entrance and 1s. a quarter and the master was to be qualified to teach Greek, he was also to teach English for fees of 5s. entrance and 5s. a quarter. Pupils were to be catechized and attend church on Wednesdays, Fridays, and saints' days. (fn. 12) From 1732 to 1782 the master was Thomas Middleton, non-resident vicar of Clanfield, who in 1750 was accused of making a sinecure of the post and who in 1756, following his temporary ejection, attempted to retain the school closes; (fn. 13) there were no pupils in 1768 or 1771, and the master in 1774, apparently Middleton, taught in his own house. (fn. 14) On Middleton's death the school was re-established in the schoolhouse and fees were raised to 5s. a quarter, (fn. 15) but in the early 19th century it was again neglected, no classics being taught and English teaching being left to an undermaster. Ten boys were taught free, the rest paying fees 'on the master's terms'. (fn. 16)

Thirty pupils were recorded in 1815, but after new fees of 21s. entrance and 21s. a quarter were introduced in 1819 the average intake fell to 6, and on the master's resignation in 1822 it proved difficult to find a successor. Income was too little for repairs, the buildings were inadequate, and before the transfer of the Croft scholars to the National school, grammar school boys and those learning to read had to be taught in one room. (fn. 17) The school, closed repeatedly during the earlier 19th century, (fn. 18) had only one pupil in 1852 when it was 'not in accord with the wants of Bampton', (fn. 19) though in 1864 there were 13 day boys mostly under the age of 12, and 11 boarders, chiefly farmers' sons, paying between £20 and £25 a year and accommodated in the schoolhouse. Subjects included Latin, Greek, English, and arithmetic, and pupils were entered for public schools; the master was then a layman. (fn. 20) Funding remained difficult and the school had again closed by 1898 when, under a Charity Commission Scheme, its income was to provide exhibitions in educational institutions for children from within the ancient parish; its land and stock then comprised the schoolhouse and garden, c. 8 a., and c. £457 consols, together producing c. £32 a year. (fn. 21) The Scheme was renewed by the Board of Education in 1906, the schoolhouse being used thenceforth for classes, lectures, and meetings, and from 1964 as a public library. (fn. 22)

Figure 6:

Bampton national school c. 1840

A private school was reportedly held in the court loft or court house in the earlier 18th century. (fn. 23) In 1808 three small schools funded by voluntary payments taught reading, arithmetic, and needlework, and there was a Sunday school for each sex, c. 150 children in all being taught. Younger children in the 1830s still relied on 2 or 3 private schools as there was no public infant school. (fn. 24) A National school run on the Bell system was established in 1812 in a purposebuilt, free-standing stone-and-slated schoolhouse at the top of Bridge Street, with support from the vicar George Richards. (fn. 25) Subjects included spelling, reading, and religious instruction; some boys learned arithmetic and writing, and some girls learned writing, needlework, and knitting. Church attendance was compulsory. (fn. 26) The cost was met chiefly from arrears from the parish's Shilton estate, rent from which was diverted permanently to the school. Income in 1815 comprised £36 from the estate, £20 from pence, and £10 from fees of 10 other children, (fn. 27) and in 1819 the master received £40 a year and the mistress £20. (fn. 28) In 1824 the Charity Commissioners confirmed diversion of the Shilton estate income and approved the transfer to the school of Mary Croft's legacy (£5 8s. a year), of Mary Dewe's manufactory charity (£20 a year), and of Susannah Frederick's Sunday school bequest (£9 a year), providing pupils received religious instruction on Sundays; even so salaries in 1848 were a 'miserable pittance'. (fn. 29)

Attendance rose from 65 boys and 75 girls in 1812 to 81 boys and 92 girls in 1815, and nearly 200 children attended an anniversary meeting in 1855. (fn. 30) The earl of Shrewsbury provided a site for a larger school on Church View before 1860, and building, financed by subscription, began in 1863; the new school was opened in 1864. (fn. 31) The building, of local stone with Bath stone dressings and stone-slated roofs, was designed in Gothic style by William Wilkinson of Oxford, with accommodation for 156 children in two rooms; (fn. 32) its forerunner was demolished before 1876. (fn. 33)

The school was again short of accommodation by 1871, when 172 children attended on the day of the government inspection. (fn. 34) A voluntary rate was sought to avoid imposition of a school board, (fn. 35) and in 1873 an infant school was opened in the newly enlarged National school building. (fn. 36) By 1910 there were 124 juniors and 71 infants. Reports in the late 19th century were mixed, though scholarships were won regularly to Witney, Bampton, and Burford grammar schools. (fn. 37)

By 1927 the upper forms had become the senior school for the surrounding villages. New buildings were added on the west in 1947, and the school acquired controlled status in 1949; in 1959 there were 294 pupils. In 1960 the senior department became a Secondary Modern with 140 on the register, but in 1965, when the roll was 96, all the pupils were transferred to Wood Green Comprehensive in Witney, and the Bampton school closed. A new Church of England primary school built on the town's northern edge in 1961 had 260 children in 1970, when buildings at the back of the former National school, then a youth centre, were used as an annexe. The roll was 142 in 1993. (fn. 38)

A young ladies' needlework school was mentioned in 1782, (fn. 39) and from the late 18th century there were several private boarding schools with pupils drawn chiefly from outside the parish. An academy for young gentlemen mentioned in 1790 (fn. 40) was followed by John Beechey's Mansion House Academy, established reportedly c. 1815 and moved in the 1820s to Weald Manor; in 1841 it had 17 boys aged from 9 to 14, but closed in the later 1850s. (fn. 41) G. H. Drewe's St. Mary's College, opened in Weald Manor in 1859 and similarly modelled on public schools, had over 50 boys in 1861 aged from 5 to 18, but closed c. 1863. (fn. 42) A third gentlemen's boarding school, Thomas Leforestier's Classical and Commercial Academy, was established by 1841 apparently in the Grange on High Street and closed c. 1864; (fn. 43) a boys' boarding school on Lavender Square, reportedly closed in 1880, is otherwise unrecorded. (fn. 44) A ladies' boarding school later in Prospect House on Broad Street, established by 1830 and with 11 pupils in 1841, (fn. 45) was taken over c. 1863 by Sarah and Rebecca Pembrey and moved before 1871 to the Elms on Broad Street, where before 1876 schoolrooms and extra accommodation (later South Elms) were added. It moved before 1903 to Valetta (later Ampney) Lodge on High Street and closed by 1915. (fn. 46) A ladies' boarding school on High Street, apparently in Lime Tree House, was recorded from the late 1840s to 1868. (fn. 47) John Bryant ran a small day- and, for a time, boarding school on Weald Lane by 1861, which moved later to the market place and continued in the early 20th century. (fn. 48) J. A. Giles, curate 1846-55, prepared private pupils for Oxford university and the army. (fn. 49)


  • 1. P.R.O., PROB 11/169, f. 61 and v.; V.C.H. Oxon. i. 462.
  • 2. P.R.O., PROB 11/214, ff. 230-2; Giles, Hist. Bampton, pp. 145-6, 150-1; below, plate 8; cf. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Bampton c 9, item b, lease 1 Jan. 10 Chas. I.
  • 3. P.R.O., PROB 11/234, f. 217; O.R.O., MS. Wills Oxon. 18/4/38.
  • 4. B.L. Add. Ch. 38932; 10th Rep. Com. Char. 341. At inclosure they comprised 9 a.
  • 5. 10th Rep. Com. Char. 341; O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Bampton c 12, letter 18 Oct. 1897; ibid. incl. award, plan I. It was demolished in the early 20th cent.: O.S. Map 1/2,500, Oxon. XXXVII. 6 (1876 and later edns.).
  • 6. 10th Rep. Com. Char. 342-4; O.R.O., D.Y. XXXII/i/1; B.L. Add. Ch. 38936; below. The Frederick endowments were not always received: O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. b 6, ff. 103-4; ibid. MS. d.d. Par. Bampton c 8, ff. 118v., 215, 217; Giles, Hist. Bampton. 98.
  • 7. P.R.O., PROB 11/1308, ff. 83-5; 10th Rep. Com. Char. 345; below.
  • 8. Secker's Corresp. 193; cf. Secker's Visit. 13; O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Bampton c 12, item b, lease 1756.
  • 9. 10th Rep. Com. Char. 342, 344-5; Schs. Inquiry [3966- XI], pp. 213-14, H.C. (1867-8), xxviii (10).
  • 10. V.C.H. Oxon. i. 462.
  • 11. Par. Colln. i. 17-18; Alum. Oxon. 1500-1714, s.v. Leonard Fell.
  • 12. Giles, Hist. Bampton, 160-1; cf. M. A. Fleming, Witney Grammar Sch. 6, 13; Par. Colln. i. 17.
  • 13. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Bampton c 12, legal opinion 7 Dec. 1756; Secker's Corresp. 9, 193.
  • 14. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Bampton b 10, f. 34V.; ibid. MSS. Oxf. Dioc. c 654, ff. 42-43V.; d 561, f. 37; d 564, f. 29; Giles, Hist. Bampton, 159.
  • 15. Oxf. Jnl. Synopsis, 7 July 1783; Giles, Hist. Bampton, 159.
  • 16. 10th Rep. Com. Char. 342.
  • 17. Ibid.; O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 433, f. 22.
  • 18. 10th Rep. Com. Char. 342; Educ. Enq. Abstract, H.C. 62, p. 739 (1835), xlii; Digest Schs. and Chars, for Educ. [435], p. 89, H.C. (1843), xviii; Giles, Hist. Bampton, 91.
  • 19. Gardner's Dir. Oxon. (1852).
  • 20. Schs. Inquiry [3966-XI], pp. 213-14, H.C. (1867-8), xxviii (10).
  • 21. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Bampton c 12, copy of Scheme.
  • 22. Board of Educ. Scheme 8 Oct. 1906; inf. from Major R. A. Colvile, Weald Manor. Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1911) wrongly states that the school was reopened in 1906.
  • 23. O.R.O., P4/2/MS 1/5, ff. 1-2.
  • 24. Ibid. MSS. Oxf. Dioc. d 707, f. 14; b 39, f. 27.
  • 25. Ibid. c 433, f. 13; c 662, f. 8; ibid. incl. award; illust. in Bodl. MSS. Top. Oxon. b 220, f. 244; d 218, f. 48.
  • 26. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 433, ff. 13andv., 16-17, 19-21v.
  • 27. Ibid.; 10th Rep. Com. Char. 345, 347; Giles, Hist. Bampton, 99; below, charities.
  • 28. Educ. of Poor, H.C. 224, p. 718 (1819), ix (2).
  • 29. 10th Rep. Com. Char. 344-5, 347; Giles, Hist. Bampton, 99.
  • 30. O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. c 433, ff. 13v., 17; c 662, ff. 48-9; Oxf. Chron. 21 July 1855.
  • 31. Jesus Coll. Mun., box 15, list 7, letter from W. Dyke 16 Mar. 1860; The Builder, xxi (1863), 485; Oxf. Chron. 21 Mar. 1863, 28 May 1864; misdated in Pevsner, Oxon. 432. A datestone of 1871 evidently refers only to acquisition of the freehold: O.R.O., Crowdy I/51, lot 53.
  • 32. The Builder, xxi. 485.
  • 33. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Oxon. XXXVII. 7 (1876).
  • 34. Returns relating to Elementary Educ. H.C. 201, p. 324 (1871), lv.
  • 35. Oxf. Chron. 28 June 1873.
  • 36. Ibid. 28 June, 12 July 1873; O.R.O., T/SL/68 ii; ibid. Crowdy 1/51, town plan. O.S. Map 1 /2,500, Oxon. XXXVII. 7 (1876 edn.) fails to show additions to the bldg.
  • 37. O.R.O., T/SL/68 i-iii; ibid. T/SA/30.
  • 38. Ibid. T/SL/68 iii-iv; Oxon. C.C. Educ. Dept., Ducker Davis survey; O.S. Map 1/2,500, SP 3003-3103 (1971 edn.); inf. from L.E.A.
  • 39. Oxf. Jnl. Synopsis, 21 Sept. 1782.
  • 40. Ibid. 12 July 1790.
  • 41. P.R.O., HO 107/872; Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. d 218, f. 38v.; Pigot, Lond. & Prov. Dir. (1830); Oxf. Jnl. 8 Jan. 1831; Oxf. Chron. 7 July 1855; cf. O.R.O., incl. award, s.v. Chas. Tunstall.
  • 42. Bodl. G.A. Oxon. c 22 (2); P.R.O., RG 9/905; Dutton, Allen & Co.'s Dir. Oxon. (1863); Oxf. Chron. 5 Sept. 1863; cf. O.R.O., Crowdy 1/51, lot 20.
  • 43. P.R.O., HO 107/872; HO 107/1731; ibid. RG 9/905; Gardner's Dir. Oxon. (1852); P.O. Dir. Oxon. (1864).
  • 44. Witney Express, 26 Feb. 1880.
  • 45. Run by the Trafford fam.: Pigot, Lond. & Prov. Dir. (1830); Billing's Dir. Oxon. (1854); P.R.O., HO 107/872.
  • 46. P.R.O., RG 9/905, RG 10/1451; Dutton, Allen & Co.'s Dir. Oxon. (1863); Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1887 and later edns.); O.S. Map 1/2,500, Oxon. XXXVII. 7 (1876 edn.); cf. Oxf. Times, 4 Sept. 1992.
  • 47. Eliz. Steede's: P.O. Dir. Oxon. (1847); Cassey & Co.'s Dir. Oxon. (1868); P.R.O., HO 107/1731; ibid. RG 9/905; RG 10/1451.
  • 48. P.R.O., RG 9/905; RG 11/1514; P.O. Dir. Oxon. (1864); Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1883 and later edns.); J. L. Hughes-Owens, Bampton We Have Lost, 92: copy in C.O.S.
  • 49. O.R.O., CPZ 1, letter to bp. 26 Oct. 1854; D.N.B.; above, church.