ST GILES’, OXFORD

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Nineteenth-century Schools


St Giles Parochial or National School

The parish school was not in St Giles’ Street proper, but at the south end of the Banbury Road. When it opened in 1837, it stood alone in St Giles’ Fields (the countryside that began immediately to the north of St Giles Church). The section of the road leading to Banbury on which is stood was first known as Park Place, and later as St Giles Road East, but the final address of the school (now demolished) was 34 Banbury Road.

By 1853 there were 61 boys and 60 girls in the school. A new classroom was built for the boys in 1855, and when it was enlarged in 1867, the infants (aged 3 to 7) were able to have the boys’ old room. The infants department was treated as a separate school from 1869.

The boys’ school closed in 1885, but the Girls’ and Infants’ Schools continued, and were sometimes known as Felstead House Practising Schools. (Felstead House was a Teacher Training College which in 1876 had opened nearby at 23 Banbury Road.)

The surviving parochial schools also closed in 1936, when the site was purchased by the University of Oxford. The old buildings were initally used by the University’s Institute of Experimental Psychology; but in the 1960s Nos. 2 to 42 Banbury Road were demolished to make way for the massive Department of Engineering Science

Log-books of St Giles National School

The following log-books are held at the Oxfordshire History Centre at Cowley:

  • St Giles’ Boys’ 1863–1884 (9 books)
  • St Giles’ Girls’ 1863–1884 (9 books)
  • St Giles’ Infants’ 1869–1920 (15 books)

Early teachers at St Giles National School

  • At the time of the 1841 census, William Bridgwater was the Schoolmaster of the St Giles National Boys’ School, and his wife Emma (nee Portlock) was the Schoolmistress of the Girls’ School. They lived at the school with their three young children. (The female teacher living with them may have been looking after the girls’ school temporarily, as Mrs Bridgewater had had a recent confinement.)
  • Later in 1841 the Schools were taken over by William Woodward and his wife Sarah. He married his second wife, a schoolmistress from Windsor called Sarah Taylor, in 1847 in 1847, and William with a different Sarah were the school master and mistress in 1852.
  • By 1880 H.C. Linstead was Master of the St Giles parish schools, and Miss Swindles was Mistress of the Infant School.

Other schools in St Giles parish
  • In 1833 (before the opening of the parochial school) there were thirteen small private schools, including two boarding schools, in St Giles parish. There are only two listed in Pigot’s 1830 directory: that of the Misses Dodd, and of James Tubb. Another two would have been the vicar’s school, which had 32 boys and 41 girls, and another school, managed by the Revd D. Allen of St John’s College, which had 20 boys and 41 girls. The former was absorbed into the new parochial school, but the latter closed.
  • William Cheney’s boarding school at 4 Park Place (the southernmost end of Banbury Road) and John Cross’s Boys’ School at 36 St Giles still existed in 1841.
  • There was a ladies’ seminary (for boarders) at 60 St Giles from 1851 to 1890
  • The Sisters of Mercy Charity School was at 10a St Giles from 1861 to 1866
  • Oxford High School was founded at 16 St Giles in 1875, moving to 38 St Giles in 1879
  • The Dragon School started life in two rooms at 26 St Giles (Balliol Hall) in 1875 , moving to Banbury Road in 1879.
  • St Ursula’s Convent School was at 38 St Giles from 1898 to 1822

St Giles’ home

Stephanie Jenkins

Oxford History home