Christ Church Cathedral School

Christ Church Cathedral School is an independent preparatory school for boys in Oxford, England. It is one of three choral foundation schools in the city and educates choristers of Christ Church Cathedral, and the Chapels of Worcester College and Pembroke College.[1] It is a member of the IAPS and the Choir Schools Association.

Christ Church Cathedral School
Christ Church Cathedral School - - 792607.jpg
3 Brewer Street


Coordinates51°44′59″N 1°15′28″W / 51.7497°N 1.2578°W / 51.7497; -1.2578Coordinates: 51°44′59″N 1°15′28″W / 51.7497°N 1.2578°W / 51.7497; -1.2578
TypeIndependent day and boarding school
Choral foundation school
Cathedral school
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1546; 476 years ago (1546)
FounderHenry VIII of England
Local authorityOxfordshire
Department for Education URN123287 Tables
Chair of the GovernorsThe Very Rev Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church
HeadmasterRichard Murray
Age3 to 13
Christ Church Cathedral School is located in Oxford city centre
Christ Church Cathedral School
Location of Christ Church Cathedral School within central Oxford


Now a Church of England School, it was originally housed within the College itself. Today its premises are located across from Christ Church at 3 Brewer Street and Cardinal Wolsey's house is still used for teaching.[2]

In the 19th century, the Dean of Christ Church, Henry Liddell (father of Alice, who was immortalised in the books of Lewis Carroll) arranged for the building of a new choir school on its present site.

In 1938, Wilfrid Oldaker took over as headmaster, finding a school with only nineteen boarders, and set out to enlarge it, roughly trebling the school's size in five years. He was resisted in this by the Dean and Chapter, who did not want a larger prep school on their hands. Oldaker made other big changes, such as joining the IAPS, which meant preparing all boys for Common Entrance, appointing prefects, dividing the school into houses called Wolsey, Sayers, and Carroll, and introducing the teaching of Greek. In 1939, he launched a school magazine called The Cardinal's Hat.[3] In 1945, Oldaker moved on to King's School, Canterbury, with Oxford seeing the move as being caused by the Dean and Chapter giving him little support in his development plans.[3][4]

More recent developments include the opening of a Pre-Prep department and nursery, and the William Walton Centre which comprises several classrooms and teaching facilities.[5] At this point, the school began to take admit non-chorister pupils as well. The school opened a pre-preparatory department in 1984 and a nursery in 1998.

The school todayEdit

All pupils are boys, except a small number of girls in the nursery. The 22 boarders are choristers or probationary choristers for the Cathedral. The dormitories in which they sleep are named after distinguished former organists including Ley, Taverner, Armstrong and Harwood. All other pupils are day boys, among them eighteen choristers who sing in Worcester College Chapel. The school used to provide choristers for Exeter College but this ended when Exeter established a mixed choir. In addition to the focus on Music, there is also a distinguished tradition of Art, and the school contributes an annual exhibition to Oxford's Artweeks festival.[6]

Leavers typically move on to local schools such as Magdalen College School, Oxford, Abingdon School, St Edward's School, Oxford, Bloxham School and D'Overbroeck's College Leckford Place. There is also a tradition of choristers winning Music Scholarships to destinations further afield, which in recent years have included Harrow School, Uppingham School, Eton College, Sherborne School and Wellington College.[7]

Notable headmastersEdit

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ "Choristerships". Christ Church Cathedral School. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Christ Church Cathedral School". []. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Richard Lane, Michael Lee, The History of Christ Church Cathedral School, Oxford (2017), pp. 52–64
  4. ^ The Public and Preparatory Schools Year Book (Year Book Press Limited, 1954), pp. 100, 103
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 September 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)website. URL accessed August 18, 2007.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Artweeks website.
  7. ^ 2010
  8. ^ D. J. A. Welsh, "Crispin St J. A. Nash-Williams (1932–2001)" in Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society, Vol. 35, Issue 6, November 2003, Pages 829–844

External linksEdit