Radley College

Radley College
Motto Latin: Sicut serpentes, sicut columbae
(Be ye as wise as snakes, and as gentle as doves)
Established 1847
Type Independent boarding school
Public school
Religion Church of England
Warden John Moule
Chairman of the Council Michael Hodgson
Founder William Sewell
Location Kensington Road
OX14 2HR
DfE URN 123300 Tables
Students c. 670
Gender Boys
Ages 13–18
Houses 10
Colours Red & white          
Publication The Radley College Chronicle
Yearbook The Radleian
Former pupils Old Radleians
Website www.radley.org.uk

Radley College /ˈrædli/[1] is a boys' independent boarding school near Radley, Oxfordshire, England, founded in 1847.[2][3] The school covers 800 acres (3.2 km2) including playing fields, a golf course, lake and farmland. It is one of four boys-only, boarding-only independent senior schools in the United Kingdom, the others being Winchester College, Harrow School and Eton College. For the academic year 2015/16, Radley charged boarders up to £11,475 per term, making it the 19th most expensive HMC (Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference) boarding school.[4]


South front of Radley Hall – the "Mansion" – with part of the school's main corridor to the right

Radley was founded in 1847 by William Sewell (1804–79) and Robert Corbet Singleton (1810–81). The first pupil was Samuel Reynolds who in 1897 wrote his reminiscences of the school.

The school was originally housed in Radley Hall, now known as the Mansion, built in the 1720s for the Stonehouse family. Later in the 18th century the estate passed to the Bowyer family, who commissioned Capability Brown to re-design the grounds. After the school was founded, extensive building work took place, beginning with and Chapel, replaced by the current building in 1895, F Social and the Octagon, the earliest living accommodation for the boys, the Clocktower, now the icon of Radley, and the Dining Hall in 1910. Building work has continued throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, with two new Socials, a weights-room/gym, a theatre, and a Real Tennis court being completed since 2006. The grounds include a lake, golf course and woodland.

Illegal price fixing cartel

In 2005 Radley College was one of fifty of the country's leading independent schools which were found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel which had allowed them to drive up fees for thousands of parents.[5] Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £21,360 and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling three million pounds into a trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period in respect of which fee information was shared.[6] 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).[7]

Academic aspects

West front and spire of the College Chapel.

The school was inspected by the independent schools Inspectorate in February 2008. The inspection report rated the school's standard of education as "outstanding", which is the highest rating.[8] There was a subsequent inspection by ISI in 2013.[9]

In 2012, the Independent review of A level results, based on government issued statistics, ranked Radley 31st in the UK, ahead of Malvern (32nd), Harrow (34th), Winchester (73rd), Eton (80th) and Wellington (89th)[10]


Radley College Boat House on the Thames

Rugby is the major sport of the Michaelmas (Autumn) Term. The school fields 21 rugby teams on most Saturdays of the Michaelmas term and some Thursdays. Radley is widely recognised for its rowing reputation, having won events at Henley Royal Regatta on 6 occasions.[11] Only Eton, Shrewsbury and St Edward's have won more events at the Regatta. Some recent Old Radleians have progressed to play cricket for England or captain county level cricket teams. The cricket grounds have been described as 'arguably one of the best in the country'[12] while the sporting facilities have been described as world class.[13]

Sports such as fives, rackets, sailing, badminton and polo are all represented. A real tennis court opened in July 2008, which made Radley College the only school in the world to have fives, squash, badminton, tennis, racquets and real tennis courts all on campus.[14]

Books, articles and periodicals

Foundation documents include the diary of Robert Corbet Singleton, co-founder and first Warden of Radley has now been published for the first time. It is available on the web.[15] It is a primary resource for the history of educational reform in the mid-19th century and the Oxford Movement.

There have been three official histories of the College, commissioned to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation, the centenary and the sesquicentenary respectively.

‘'Sicut Columbae: fifty years of St Peter's College, Radley.’’ By T.D. Raikes and other Old Radleians. James Parker & Co., Oxford and London, 1897. Raikes’ history of the first fifty years of the College is primarily based on reminiscences and first-hand accounts of the earliest years, informed by an author who had been schoolboy, prefect, teacher and close family member of several other Old Radleians. The sections on school sports are particularly valuable.

A second edition was produced by Ernest Bryans in 1925 under an amended title Sicut Columbae: a history of St Peter's College, Radley, 1847–1924. Basil Blackwell, for the Radleian Society, Oxford [1925]. Bryans made a few corrections to the earlier text and added chapters which cover the intervening twenty-five years.

The history of Radley College, 1847–1947. By AK Boyd. Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1948. Boyd's history of Radley was written to celebrate the school's centenary. Like TD Raikes, he had an unrivalled personal knowledge of the school, but he also sought to build on the earlier history with much more documentary material. To this end, he virtually created the school Archives by sourcing all of the extant material from anyone who had any past connection with the school, occasionally commissioning transcripts where the original was retained by the families who owned it. The strength of Raikes' history was the depth of first-hand memoirs; Boyd's in his use of, and extensive quotations from, the source material.

No ordinary place: Radley College and the public school system. By Christopher Hibbert. John Murray, London, 1997. ISBN 0-7195-5176-5. Christopher Hibbert's history of the College was commissioned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its foundation in 1997. Hibbert, himself a former Radleian, was described as 'the leading popular historian now living in England.' His approach was to place the school's history within the context of public school education in the 19th and 20th centuries. This allows a thematic approach within each chronological section.

The buildings and grounds

Recollections: the life and travels of a Victorian architect. Sir Thomas Graham Jackson, 1835–1924. Ed. by Nicholas Jackson. With an introduction and gazetteer by James Bettley. Unicorn Press, London, 2003. ISBN 0-906290-72-4. Thomas Graham Jackson was the architect who designed the infirmary and cloisters, chapel, dining hall, H Social, the South African War memorial, and the War Memorial gateway (Mem Arch). Updated version of the 1950 edition edited by Basil Jackson

Looking at Radley: an architectural and historical survey of the earlier buildings. By M.T. Cherniavsky & A.E. Money. Radley College, [1981] Based on three articles and a course on the history of the buildings taught by Michael Cherniavsky whilst on a sabbatical at Radley College in 1979. He describes the exterior views of Radley that would still be recognised by a visitor from the time of Warden Sewell in the 1850s. Tony Money, Archivist at Radley, then wrote about the various interior uses to which the buildings have been put over the years. The book is illustrated from photos in the College Archives.

Radley Hall: the rediscovery of a country house. By Alison Maguire in Architectural History, Vol. 44, Essays in Architectural History Presented to John Newman (2001). Detailed study of the Mansion by a member of the architectural team responsible for its renovation after the fire in 1997

Capability Brown and the eighteenth-century English landscape. 2nd edn. By Roger Turner. Chichester, Phillimore, 1999. ISBN 1-86077-114-9 A brief note in the gazetteer about Brown's work for Sir William Stonhouse at Radley Hall in 1770–1.

Natural history and geology

The fauna and flora of Radley and the neighbourhood. By the Radley College Natural History Society. James Parker, Oxford, 1906. Pioneering survey compiled from the field notes of the College Natural History Society, organised by classes and genera with locations

The Radley district: its history, botany, entomology and geology. Ed. by T Field. Parker & Son, Oxford, 1912. Individual chapters on history, botany and entomology by the Warden and staff of Radley College, and on geology by M Odling, F.G.S., formerly a boy at the school, who became one of the first Demonstrators in Geology at the University of Leeds. Material was drawn from the College Natural History Society records and excursions


Manly and muscular diversions: public schools and the nineteenth-century sporting revival. Tony Money. Duckworth, London, 1997. ISBN 0-7156-2793-7. Argues that the political and economic stability of the British upper class and, more importantly, the enthusiasm of boys at English boarding schools, was a crucial factor in the spread of contemporary team sports around the world. Draws extensively on material from Radley College Archives.

Football at Radley, 1847–2000. Tony Money. [Radley College, 2000] Study of the development of football in the 19th century as individual schools created their own game, including Radley Football, and the subsequent adoption of Rugby Football as a nationally recognised sport.


The College Archives contain a collection of unpublished memorabilia by Old Radleians. The most significant biographies about specific Wardens and staff are:

A forgotten genius: Sewell of St. Columba's and Radley. By Lionel James. Faber and Faber, London, 1945. Biography of William Sewell, founder of Radley College, by a former member of staff. Makes extensive use of Sewell's diaries, letters and sermons

A memoir of the Reverend George Wharton, Precentor of Saint Peter's College Radley. By Roscoe Beddoes. Oxford University Press, 1931. ‘Kitty’ Wharton was the most eccentric and long-serving of the 19th century schoolmasters of Radley

Thomas Field, D.D.: a memoir. By Harold S. Goodrich. SPCK, London, 1937. Thomas Field was Warden of Radley, 1897–1913.

In addition, biographies and autobiographies by Old Radleians often contain brief accounts of time at the school.

Southern Railway Schools Class

The school lent its name to the thirty-first steam locomotive (Engine 930) in the Southern Railway's Class V of which there were 40.[16] This Class was also known as the Schools Class because all 40 of the class were named after prominent English Public Schools. 'Radley', as it was called, was built in 1934 and was withdrawn in 1962. A nameplate from 930, Radley, is now displayed in the stationery department of Shop (the College's shop)

Radley village

Radley village has a local history society who have produced a number of publications and maintain an archive of local material.[17]

Radley vicarage by Radley History Club, 2005. A report of a 'buildings record' survey and archive research undertaken to determine the history, construction, and later development of this 14th-century building

The history of Radley by Patrick Drysdale … [and others] Radley History Club, 2002. History of the village from prehistory to the present

List of Wardens

Old Radleians


  1. Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, p. 665, ISBN 9781405881180
  2. Joyce Huddleston – freelance technical writer, editor and abstractor
  3. "Radley College". Radley Village. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  4. http://www.privateschoolfees.co.uk/uploads/1/1/2/4/11247026/boarding_fees_2015_2016.pdf
  5. Halpin, Tony (10 November 2005). "Independent schools face huge fines over cartel to fix fees". The Times. London.
  6. "OFT names further trustees as part of the independent schools settlement". The Office of Fair Trading. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  7. "Private schools send papers to fee-fixing inquiry". The Daily Telegraph. London. 1 March 2004. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  8. "ISI Inspection report 2008". Radley College. 21 February 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  9. http://www.isi.net/schools/6818/
  10. "The Top 100 Independent Schools at A-level". The Independent. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  11. "Results of Final Races – 1946–2003".
  12. http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/search/790855.SCHOOL_SPORT__Search_is_on_at_Radley_for_next_Strauss/
  13. "'World class' facilities at Radley and Upton to boost area's Olympic boom (From Oxford Mail)". Oxfordmail.co.uk. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  14. Smith, Russell (12 June 2006). "School Sport: Search is on at Radley for next Strauss". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  15. Singleton, Robert Corbet. "Singleton's Diary". WordPress. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  16. "Southern E-Group". Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  17. "Welcome to the Homepage of RADLEY HISTORY CLUB". CommuniGate. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  18. "William Burdett-Coutts". Rhodes University Trust. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  19. Charles Mosley, ed., Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage (107th edition, 2003), vol. 1, page 641; vol. 2, p. 2289
  20. 'Macnab of Macnab, James Charles' in Who's Who 2012 (London: A. & C. Black, 2011)
  21. "Player profile: Charles Worsley". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  22. http://www.radleyarchives.com/browse/magazines/the-radleian/the-radleian-1990-1999/the-radleian-1994/6876

Further reading

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Coordinates: 51°41′35″N 1°15′05″W / 51.69304°N 1.25150°W / 51.69304; -1.25150

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