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Headington National School, 1847

Extract from Jackson’s Oxford Journal, Saturday 29 May, 1847

Ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone of the new schools

Wednesday in Whitsun week, in the year 1847, will be long remembered in the annals of Headington. Such a day the oldest inhabitants (and there are many octogenarians in the parish) never witnessed, and do not look to see again! The joyous occasion of such a vast assemblage was the laying of the foundation stone of the schools and school house about to be erected in that place.

The parish of Headington, which is near to this city, includes the villages of Barton and Headington Quarry, and contains a population exceeding 1,600 souls. It has at present, if we except the Dame Schools, only one small school for the education of six poor boys and six poor girls; and to remedy this grievous evil the inhabitants, early in the year 1845, held a meeting and commenced a subscription for the purpose of providing schools of sufficient size for the education of the children of the labouring classes. The subscription, owing to the poverty of the parish, proceeded but slowly, and it was not until near the termination of the last year that the hopes of the Committee seemed likely to be realized; and even then, but for the liberality of Mr. Tawney (who purchased and presented the parish with half an acre of ground, situated in its very centre, and adjoining the turnpike road), the good work would still have lingered.

The schools now in the course of erection are calculated to contain 120 boys and the same number of girls, besides a dwelling for the master and mistress, and other necessary conveniences. The cost of the whole is estimated to exceed 500l., towards which there has been subscribed 260l., and a grant of 170l. has been obtained from the Council of Education, still leaving a deficiency of about 70l.

The Committee invited Mr. Drury, of Shotover House, to lay the first stone of the building, and he responded to the call with the utmost alacrity. A small subscription was entered into by the inhabitants for the purpose of giving cakes and wine to the children, who assembled to the number of 300 and upwards, in the orchard of Mr. Burrows jun., one of the Churchwardens, where they were seated on the ground, and waited on by the ladies of the village, who appeared to be as pleased and delighted as the children themselves. The two village bands offered their services gratuitously, and enlivened the scene with many pleasing airs. At four o’clock the procession commenced, and was headed by one of the bands with two flags, then followed by all the children, next came the other band with two more flags, and behind them the Committee and almost all of the inhabitants. Mr Drury’s carriage (in which were Mr. Drury, Mr. Tawney, and the Rev. the Vicar of the parish) bringing up the rear. The procession extended in length nearly quarter of a mile.

So great and universal was the interest which the proceedings excited in the villagers, that we believe there was scarcely an inhabitant left at home; the place looked like a deserted village. A platform was erected on the ground for the ladies, and wagons and other vehicles provided, from which a sight of the proceedings could be obtained.

Before laying the stone, Mr. Drury addressed the assembled multitude, which has been variously estimated at from 2000 to 3000 persons, but which address, for want of time and space, we are reluctantly compelled to omit.

The interesting ceremony having been completed, and everybody appearing to be delighted with the scene, particularly the parents of those poor children for whose benefit the good work has been begun, the air rang with loud and hearty cheers in honour of Mr. Drury, Mr. Tawney, Mr. Digby, Mr. Digby Latimer, Mr. Burrows, Mr. Matthews, and others more immediately connected with the work. The bands struck up a lively tune, and returned with the villagers to their homes to take over the events of this memorable day.

The good work thus so auspiciously commenced, cannot be completed without the aid of the charitably-disposed. We feel sure, however, that this aid will not be asked in vain, but that we have only to make the wants of the parish known to ensure a ready response from those who are not only able but willing to contribute to make up the deficiency of £70. Subscriptions are received at the Old Bank, Oxford, and by the Vicar and Churchwardens of this parish.

We think it our duty to mention that, as the people were returning from the ground, a man named Radbourn, a carrier from Ickford and Worminghall, drove his horse and cart at full speed through the midst of them in so careless and reckless a manner that a man and two children very narrowly escaped being killed.

The new school was Headington National School (now St Andrew’s Church of England Primary School) on the London Road. It stood further back from the road than the present school, which was built in front of it in two stages (the west side in 1894, and the east side in 1928)

The old building that was greeted so joyously is shown below. It was partially demolished in 1894 and wholly demolished in 1928.

The original St Andrew’s School


© Stephanie Jenkins

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