Oundle School
Cloisters, Oundle School - geograph.org.uk - 1429147.jpg
, ,
Coordinates52°28′56″N 0°28′09″W / 52.48218°N 0.4691°W / 52.48218; -0.4691Coordinates: 52°28′56″N 0°28′09″W / 52.48218°N 0.4691°W / 52.48218; -0.4691
TypePublic school
Independent school
Day and boarding school
MottoGod Grant Grace
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1556; 466 years ago (1556)
FounderThe Worshipful Company of Grocers
Department for Education URN122129 Tables
Chairman of GovernorsR H Ringrose
HeadmistressSarah Kerr-Dineen
Age11 to 18
Colour(s)Blue and maroon    
Former pupilsOld Oundelians

Oundle School is a public school (English independent day and boarding school) for pupils 11–18 situated in the market town of Oundle in Northamptonshire, England.[1] The school has been governed by the Worshipful Company of Grocers of the City of London since its foundation by Sir William Laxton in 1556. The school's alumni – known as Old Oundelians – include renowned entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians, military figures and sportspeople.

Oundle has eight boys' houses, five girls' houses, a day house, a junior house and a junior day house. Together these accommodate more than 1100 pupils, generally between the ages of 11 and 18. It is the third-largest boarding school in England after Eton and Millfield.[2]

The current Headmistress is Sarah Kerr-Dineen, who in 2015 became the first woman to lead the school.[3]

The school is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.[4]


The school was founded by Sir William Laxton and originally known as Laxton Grammar School. Laxton had been eight times Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and was Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1544. After Laxton's death in 1556, his will decreed the founding of a school for the local boys of Oundle, which was to be maintained by the Worshipful Company of Grocers. There had been a school on the site since at least 1485, at which Laxton himself was educated.[5]

The size and reputation of Laxton Grammar School rose gradually in the following centuries such that by the mid-nineteenth century, many of the school's pupils had been sent from around the country to receive their education in Oundle. In 1876 the decision was made by the Grocers to divide the school into Oundle School and Laxton Grammar School. Laxton Grammar School was to continue to educate boys from Oundle and its surrounding villages, while Oundle School was to accept the sons of gentlemen from further afield.

It is during this period that Oundle rose to prominence as an English Public School, which can be largely attributed to F. W. Sanderson in his role as headmaster from 1892 until his death in 1922. When Sanderson joined Oundle he found a minor country boarding school; by the time of his death, the school had become the leading establishment for science and engineering education. The success of Sanderson can be attributed to his educational ethos; he believed in teaching pupils what they wanted to learn and as a result helped to introduce subjects such as science, modern languages and engineering to the English independent school system.

A major development came about in 1990 when Oundle admitted girls for the first time. In the year 2000 the decision was made by the school's governing body to re-unite Oundle School and Laxton School as a single educational establishment under the common name Oundle School, with Laxton House becoming the day house.

Present day

Oundle has 835 boarders and 235 day pupils. It is the third largest independent boarding school in England, after Eton in Berkshire and Millfield in Somerset.[2] The various school buildings, some of which date from the 15th century, are scattered around the market town, with the Cloisters acting as the nucleus of the school community.

The Good Schools Guide described the school as a "Popular, well oiled, well heeled co-educational boarding school which is riding high".[6] Pupils obtain strong results at GCSE and A Level. In their 2013 A Levels pupils achieved 89.1% A* to B grades, with over 60% of grades either A* or A. In the year 2016, 28 pupils achieved 10 or more A* results in their GCSE examinations, with 89% of all results awarded being A* or A. Many pupils go on to study at Oxbridge; the overwhelming majority continue to Russell Group universities.[7] In 2019, 48% of pupils scored A*-A for their A-Levels examination, whereas 79% scored A*-A for their GCSEs.[8]

The school promotes the practice of Christian values and maintains links with the Church of England by celebrating the major events of the Christian calendar. All pupils who board are required to attend services in the school chapel three times a week: one midweek lunch time service, Friday hymn practice, and the Sunday service. Pupils of other faiths are free to worship according to their own beliefs but must still attend chapel with the rest of the school.

The school has an extensive programme of voluntary clubs and societies (approaching 50 in number), which range from poetry and debating to croquet and wine tasting.[9] Each academic subject also has its own society which organises evening lectures from guest speakers throughout the year; these can be either directly related to the syllabus or simply to broaden interest in the subject. A new subject, Trivium, gives Third Form pupils timetabled engagement with extension topics for their own sake, using methods of thought drawn from the traditional liberal arts. Quadrivium is also an option for pupils in the Lower Sixth to study, similar to trivium taught in the Third Form. Outside term time pupils are given the opportunity to participate in the countless regular school trips which explore all corners of the globe. These include history trips to major European cities,[10] language exchanges in Europe and Asia,[11] charity work in Africa,[12] AAAS conventions and politics trips in America, natural history expeditions to Antarctica, and many more.

Sport is considered to be an essential part of school life and while there exists a multitude of sports to choose from, the emphasis remains on traditional team sports such as rugby, hockey, cricket, rowing and soccer for boys, and hockey, netball and tennis for girls. Oundle performs particularly strongly in independent school rugby, cricket, and girls' hockey.[5] A large proportion of the school gathers to support the 1st XV rugby team on the Two Acre during the Michaelmas and Christmas quarters. The school's greatest sporting rivalry is with Uppingham School, while other rivalries include Harrow School, Radley College, Stamford School and Rugby School. The school sends regular rugby, cricket and hockey tours to countries all around the world, while the social 'Ramblers' cricket team is known in the school for its tours of the U.K. and the Caribbean. The Oundle Rovers Cricket Club (made up of Old Oundelians) plays in The Cricketer Cup and hosts its own cricket week at the school. The Rovers have won the cup three times and are fourth in the all-time order of merit.[13]

Like sport, music plays a vital role within school life for many pupils,[14] and over 60% of pupils regularly practise a musical instrument while at Oundle. The school offers an extensive range of groups, bands, orchestras and choirs which cater for many musical tastes. Such is the success of music at Oundle that in recent years many pupils have gone on to receive musical or choral scholarships from Oxbridge, while school bands and choirs have gone on to perform concerts across the UK, Europe and Asia.[5] Musical and non-musical pupils are encouraged to get involved in the house shout and part song competitions in the Lent term which are independently judged and contested fiercely. Possibly the greatest success in the practice of music at the school is its rock society, which can count the likes of Bruce Dickinson among its earliest members. 'Roc-Soc' has been running since the 1970s and promotes the independent formation of popular music bands which have their own dedicated concerts towards the end of every term.[15] The experimental/industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle played at the school in March 1980.[citation needed] [16]

Oundle School has the largest Combined Cadet Force of any school in the country which plays an important role in both the development of pupils as well as in the community, for example in the annual Remembrance Day service held in St Peter's Church.[17] The CCF offers pupils the opportunity to practise their leadership skills whether on parade at school, on the termly field weekends, or on the annual camps. The school has a strong tradition of serving the community with many pupils opting to provide assistance in the local area, or Community Action as an alternative to CCF. There are a broad range of Community Action options available in the Oundle area which cater not only for the needs of the local community but also for the extra-curricular interests of the pupils.[18] Many pupils choose to undertake the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme which provides an ideal combination of the skills they acquire during CCF and Community Action.[19] Every summer since 1982 sixth formers and former pupils have run the Oundle School Mencap holiday, a residential holiday for children with a range of learning disabilities and now a highly respected charity in its own right.[20]

The school has ties with the Laxton Junior School, for primary school pupils, some of whom continue their secondary education as pupils at the senior school. A modern building for Laxton Junior was completed in 2003, which allowed the school to double its intake.

In November 2005 the school was found to have taken part in a cartel of price fixing among public schools.[21][22] However, Mrs. Jean Scott, the head of the Independent Schools Council, said that independent schools had always been exempt from anti-cartel rules applied to business, were following a long-established procedure in sharing the information with each other, and that they were unaware of the change to the law (on which they had not been consulted). She wrote to John Vickers, the OFT Director General, saying, "They are not a group of businessmen meeting behind closed doors to fix the price of their products to the disadvantage of the consumer. They are schools that have quite openly continued to follow a long-established practice because they were unaware that the law had changed."[23]

Oundle won the Tatler Public School of the Year Award in 2018.[24]


This section contains content that is written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by removing promotional content and inappropriate external links, and by adding encyclopedic content written from a neutral point of view. (February 2022) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Cloisters viewed from the spire of St Peter's Church
The Cloisters viewed from the spire of St Peter's Church
The Great Hall
The Great Hall
The Chapel of St Anthony
The Chapel of St Anthony
The Stahl Theatre
The Stahl Theatre

Oundle School's facilities include the following:


This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

The school has 15 boarding houses in total. There are eight boys' boarding houses (Bramston, Crosby, Fisher [formerly Laxton House], Grafton, Laundimer, School, Sidney and St Anthony), five girls' boarding houses (Dryden, Kirkeby, New House, Sanderson and Wyatt) and two junior houses (The Berrystead and The Scott House). Laxton House (formerly Laxton School) caters solely for day pupils and the junior day house Scott house caters solely for 1st to 2nd day form pupils.

Oundle's Boarding Houses differ greatly in character, customs, and traditions and there has always been a rivalry between them. House Masters and Mistresses live with their families in private accommodation located within the boarding houses. The House Master/Mistress plays a role in the every day running of the house and is supported by a deputy as well as a head of house and a team of prefects from the sixth form. In addition, each house has a number of house tutors who take care of approximately eight pupils each. Each house also has a resident matron who cares for the unwell and plays an important pastoral and administrative role within the house. Student accommodation varies between houses, most houses contain a mixture of dormitories and bed-sits which are usually allocated according to seniority. Each house has its own library, computer room, recreation room, and dining room as well as living facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and changing rooms.

The Boarding Houses are divided into two categories, Town and Field. The Town Houses front onto Oundle's central streets and have extensive grounds at the rear. The buildings were converted from a mixture of large private residences and shops and as such tend to possess individual, sometimes even labyrinthine layouts. The Field Houses provide accommodation in grand buildings which were purpose-built (mostly around the time of Sanderson) and are located slightly further from the town among the sports pitches and the school's other recreational facilities.

Boys' houses

House Housemaster Boys Founded Town/Field Colours
Bramston Mr P.A. Liston c. 60 1916 Town    
Crosby Major A.C. Mansergh c. 60 1907 Field    
Fisher (formerly Laxton) Mr A.J. Brighton c. 60 1869 Field    
Grafton Mr W.W. Gough c. 60 1902 Field    
Laundimer Mr W.D. Gunson c. 60 1916 Town    
School House Mr S. J. Jessop c. 60 1887 Town    
Sidney Dr. C.J. Quiddington c. 69 1882 Field    
St. Anthony Mr P.J. Kemp c. 65 1928 Town    

Girls' houses

House Housemistress / Housemaster Girls Founded (Converted to girls' house) Town/Field Colours
Kirkeby Mrs J.L.L. Banerjee c. 65 1990 Field    
Wyatt Dr N.M. Mola c. 65 1990 Field    
New House Ms C.A. Rees c. 60 1907 (1997) Town    
Sanderson Ms. S. Johnson c. 60 1938 (2000) Town    
Dryden Miss K. Francis c. 60 1938 (1993) Town    

Junior house

House Housemistress / Housemaster Children Founded Town/Field Colours
Berrystead Mrs S. Fonteneau c. 47 1901 Town    

Day house

House Housemistress / Housemaster Children Founded Town/Field Colours
Laxton Mr A.E. Langsdale c. 180 1556 Town    
Scott Mrs F. Quiddington c. 80 2018 Town    

Old Oundelians

Main article: List of Old Oundelians

See also: Category:People educated at Oundle School

Former pupils are known as Old Oundelians and the Old Oundelians Club (known as the OO Club) was founded in 1883.

Alumni of the school include Professor Maxwell Hutchinson, Past President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, rock musician Bruce Dickinson, England rugby players (and twins) Tom Curry and Ben Curry, architect Christopher Alexander, celebrated feminist campaigner, researcher and writer Caroline Criado-Perez and evolutionary biologist and science writer Richard Dawkins.

Victoria Cross winners

Three Old Oundelians were awarded the Victoria Cross for actions during the First World War:[30]

Notable Headmasters

See also: Category:Headmasters of Oundle School

Notable masters

See also: Category:Teachers of Oundle School

School song

The official school song is Carmen Undeliense[34] (words by R.F. Patterson, music by Clement M. Spurling, published in 1912 by Novello & Company Ltd of London).[35]


  1. ^ "oundleschool.org.uk" (PDF). oundleschool.org.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Schools Guide 2011 - Tatler". Guides.tatler.co.uk. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  3. ^ "Oundle School Makes Historic Appointment". Oundle Chronicle. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Schools Archive". HMC. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "Oundle | Senior Only Mixed Independent School | Northamptonshire". Guide to Independent Schools. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  6. ^ "Oundle School | Peterborough | LEA:Northamptonshire | Northamptonshire". The Good Schools Guide. Archived from the original on 4 February 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  7. ^ "oundleschool.org.uk" (PDF). oundleschool.org.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  8. ^ "Oundle School Guide: Reviews Rankings, Fees and More". Britannia StudyLink Malaysia: UK Study Expert. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  9. ^ "Extracurricular Activities: Societies". Oundle School. 19 November 2010. Archived from the original on 21 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  10. ^ "News Christmas 2009: To Vienna and beyond". Oundle School. 13 November 2009. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  11. ^ "News Trinity 2010: Oundle visits Wild China". Oundle School. 18 May 2010. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  12. ^ "News Michaelmas 2010: From Oundle to Mozambique". Oundle School. 26 August 2010. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  13. ^ "Order of Merit". thecricketercup.com. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  14. ^ "The Arts: Music". Oundle School. 16 June 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  15. ^ "Rikki & The Last Days of Earth debut 7". Mrpibbs.com. 29 May 1977. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  16. ^ "Remembering the Time Throbbing Gristle Played A Private School". www.vice.com. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  17. ^ "Extracurricular Activities: CCF". Oundle School. 1 April 2011. Archived from the original on 6 March 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  18. ^ "Extracurricular Activities: Community Action". Oundle School. 20 January 2011. Archived from the original on 6 March 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  19. ^ "Extracurricular Activities: Duke of Edinburgh". Oundle School. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  20. ^ "Oundle School Mencap Holiday". Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  21. ^ "Top 50 independent schools found guilty of price-fixing to push up fees" The Guardian, 10 November 2005.
  22. ^ "OFT issues statement of objections against 50 independent schools - The Office of Fair Trading". Oft.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 3 September 2009. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  23. ^ "Private schools send papers to fee-fixing inquiry". The Daily Telegraph. London. 1 March 2004. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  24. ^ "Oundle wins accolade of Public School of the year". The Northamptonshire Telegraph. Oundle. 12 September 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  25. ^ [1] Archived 24 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "The Arts - Yarrow Gallery". Oundle School. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  27. ^ "extract from Peter Scott's autobiography". Westdowns.com. 12 March 2001. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  28. ^ "The Arts: Stahl Theatre". Oundle School. 1 December 2010. Archived from the original on 1 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  29. ^ [2] Archived 24 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ The Oundle Society Editorial Team, (Spring 2006), The Oundle Society Spring Newsletter, page 7, (The Oundle Society)
  31. ^ Sir John George Smyth, (1963), The Story of the Victoria Cross, 1856-1963, page 191, (F. Muller:London)
  32. ^ "Danny Grewcock to leave Bath Rugby for Oundle School". BBC News.
  33. ^ "W.G. Grace (jnr)". Cricinfo.
  34. ^ "Domain Registered By Safenames Ltd" (PDF). Oundlesociety.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  35. ^ Carmen Undeliense: Oundle School Song. Words by R.F. Patterson. Music by Clement M. Spurling. Novello and Co. (1912) ASIN: B0000D3KXX

Further reading

Black, Edward "The Avondale Case" Lulu, Amazon, B&W March 2014