Headington history: Schools

Go backwards
Go forwards

Linden House School (originally Headington Academy)


Linden House in Old High Street (the tall building on the left of this postcard) is now known as the Priory. It was originally a private house. From at least 1850 to 1854, when it was owned by George Baker Ballachey of Bury Knowle House, it was occupied by William Butler, a magistrate and alderman and brother-in-law of the Mrs Butler who ran a girls’ school in the Manor House in the 1840s.

In 1858 William Richard Hurst, formerly of Cowley Diocesan School, opened a private school for boys at Linden House. Initially he called it Headington Academy, and the following advertisement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 11 December that year:

Conducted by Mr. W. R. HURST, for 13 years Assistant Master at Cowley School.
IT is the primary object of this School to impart a sound Commercial Education, at the same time every subject will be introduced that is considered essential to a correct and liberal course of Instruction.
   In the domestic arrangements every effort will be made to secure the comfort, health, and happiness of the Pupils, and such care and attention will be bestowed upon them as must, it is trusted, obtain the general confidence of parents.
   The premises are pleasantly and healthily situated, and replete with all the advantages necessary for a school.
   The terms, inclusive of books, stationery, &c., will be—
For Boarders above 12 years of age, £27; under 12 years, £24. For Day Pupils, a limited number of which only can be taken, the terms will be — Inclusive, Six Guineas per Annum; not inclusive, Four Guineas per Annum.
   The above terms will include Instruction in the following subjects:— Reading, Writing (plain and ornamental), Arithmetic, Book-Keeping, Mensuration, Land and Timber Measuring, English Grammar and Composition, Ancient and Modern History, Geography, Political and Physical Drawing, Algebra, Mathematics, and the Latin and French languages.
   On the first admission of a pupil to the Latin or French Class an Entrance Fee of One Guinea will be charged.
   Each Pupil will be expected to bring with him two pairs of sheets, four towels, a knife, fork, and spoon, all of which will be returned upon the removal of the Pupil.— A Quarter's notice will be expected previous to the withdrawal of a Pupil.
   It is respectfully urged that all the clothes, &c., of the Pupils be marked with name in full.
   N.B. Headington is situated about 1¾ miles from Oxford, in one of the most healthy localities of the county, as is approachable from Oxford by pleasant walks and a good road.

Just a week later, on 18 December 1858, the name of the school was changed to Linden House Academy, and the advertisement shortened:

Advert introducing Linden House School in 1858

On 25 June 1859 Hurst advertised as follows:

Conducted by W. R. HURST, formerly of Cowley Diocesan School.
The extensive additions made to this Establishment, with a view to the increased comfort and accommodation of the pupil, enable its Proprietor to announce several vacancies for the ensuing term.

These additions were the three Linden Cottages that can be seen in the above picture just to the north of the main house. (Linden Cottages were demolished in 1908 and replaced by the current two cottages with that name.) The cottages were used for boarders, allowing numbers to rise to 50, as this advertisement that appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 24 December 1859 shows:

Linden House School advertisement

Despite the above asseveration that he would limit the school to 50 pupils, Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 23 February 1861 reports that there were 70 boys at the school, of whom 45 had joined its Cadet Rifle Corps. Of these 70, about 50 must have been days boys, as the 1861 census shows only 21 boarders: these were aged between 9 and 17, and most came from Oxford and the surrounding area. Hurst (32) lived on the premises with his wife, two assistant masters named Sherlock Cranwell and John Leach, and three servants.

The three school terms began in January, late April, and late July, and the date was always advertised in Jackson's Oxford Journal.

On 16 July 1864 Hurst advertised that in the ensuing term he planned to move the school to extensive premises at Littlemore, and on 13 August 1864 he advertised his Headington premises to let:

HEADINGTON. TO be LET, at Michaelmas next,—LINDEN HOUSE, containing ten rooms, and having attached to it flower and kitchen garden, lawn and shrubbery, stable, coach-house, and paddock (one acre in extent.)
   Also at the same time, the BUILDINGS occupied as a School House.
   Application, in the first instance, by letter only, to be made to Mr. W. R. Hurst, Linden House, Headington.

Hurst continued to use the name Linden House for his larger school in Littlemore.

On 29 April 1865 a forthcoming auction of the main part of the school, described as a twelve-roomed dwelling house suitable for a 40-pupil boarding school or conversion into two dwelling houses, was advertised in Jackson's Oxford Journal.

The sale of the three adjacent Linden Cottages that were also part of the school was advertised thus on 26 October 1867:

All those FREEHOLD PREMISES, built within the last few years, and fitted up in the most substantial manner for school and class rooms, and recently converted into three comfortable dwelling-houses, each containing parlour, kitchen, scullery, and four bed rooms, yard, with back entrance thereto from the Croft, pump and well of excellent water, and other conveniences, in the occupation of Messrs. Parrott, Louch, and Taylor.

In an article on the history of the British Workman building in Old High Street, the Headington Parish Magazine of February 1881 stated that the Revd John Robinson in 1864 “was negotiating for some rooms in the High Street, since turned into three cottages, but which had then been used as a Boys’ School and Class Rooms”, but he did not get them.

It seems likely that Linden House was bought by the Revd John William Augustus Taylor, founder of the much more prestigious Rookery School, because from 1868 to 1874 it was occupied by one of its masters, Henry Franklin, described in the 1871 census as “Teacher (Preparatory School for Harrow, Eton, &c.)”, and his wife and seven children. (Franklin had been the Master of Headington National School until the end of 1867, living in the school house on the London Road.)

© Stephanie Jenkins

Headington home Shark Oxford History home