Summer Fields School

For schools of a similar name, see Summerfield School.
Summer Fields School

The school from its playing fields
Motto Mens Sana in Corpore Sano
Established 1864
Type Independent preparatory school
Boarding school
Headmaster David Faber MA (Balliol College, University of Oxford)
Deputy Headmaster Matthew Faulkner MA (St. Peter's College, Oxford), PGCE
Chairman of the Governors A.E. Reeks, MA, FRSA
Founder Archibald Maclaren
Location Mayfield Road
Gender Boys
Ages 7–13
Houses Case, Congreve, Maclaren, Moseley
Former pupils Old Summerfieldians
Website Summer Fields School

Summer Fields is a boys' independent day and boarding preparatory school in Summertown, Oxford. It was originally called Summerfield and used to have a subsidiary school Summerfields, St Leonards-on-Sea (known as "Summers mi").


Originally called Summerfield, it became a boys' preparatory school in 1864 with seven pupils. Its owner, Archibald Maclaren, had been educated at Dollar Academy and was a fencing teacher who ran a gymnasium in Oxford. He strongly believed in the importance of physical fitness. His wife, Gertrude, was a classical scholar and teacher, a daughter of David Alphonso Talboys.[1] The school motto is Mens sana in corpore sano: "A healthy mind in a healthy body".

The school grew and needed more staff, two of whom married into the Maclaren family. The Reverend Dr Charles Williams ("Doctor"), who took over the scholarship form from Mrs Maclaren, and married Mabel Maclaren in 1879. The Reverend Hugh Alington married Margaret Maclaren in 1885 and took over the boys' games. The school remained in the hands of the Maclaren, Williams and Alington families for its first 75 years.

At the end of the 19th Century, "Doctor" became headmaster and there was much building at the school. A second school "Summers mi" was opened at St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, for boys to benefit from the sea air. In 1918 Doctor passed the headmastership to Hugh Alington. There was a lean spell in the 1930s and numbers fell, but John Evans and Geoffrey Bolton ("G.B.") took over in 1939. During World War II three other schools were evacuated to Summer Fields - Famborough School, Hampshire, Summers mi, and St Cyprian's School from Eastbourne - and this restored the numbers.

In 1955, the school became a charitable trust with a board of governors, including Harold Macmillan, who had been at the school as a boy and was soon to become Prime Minister.

Drawing of Summer Fields from A Century of Summer Fields, 1964

During the 1960s Pat Savage was headmaster, with the assistance of Jimmy Bell and Pat Marston. By the centenary in 1964, the school's appearance had changed relatively little (see illustration), but was thriving and energetic enough to celebrate with a hardback book of 332 pages, with contributions from "O.S." (old Summerfieldians) including stories about Archibald Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell and Harold Macmillan, and a friendly greeting in verse from arch-rival Horris Hill School.[2] One O.S. recollected:[2]:309

Then I met the Ogre [Pat Marston]. For my first few weeks I was terrified by this "monster". His appearance was formidable. He growled and shook the room as he entered. But once I learnt that he didn't actually eat little boys, even on Black Fridays,[note 1] the classes became amusing, exhilarating and even relaxing.

In 1975, Nigel Talbot Rice took over as headmaster. He put the school on a sound financial footing through a series of appeals which financed an ambitious building programme: new classrooms, the Macmillan Hall and Music Centre, an indoor swimming-pool, the Wavell Arts and Technology Centre (named after the 1st Earl Wavell), and the Sports Hall. In 1997, Talbot Rice retired and was succeeded by Robin Badham-Thornhill. In 2010 David Faber, an old boy and governor, took over as headmaster.

In 2002 a new lodge called "Savage's" was built. In recent years a new year group was added at the bottom of the school.

Summer Fields today

The boys are organised into four "leagues". One of them is named Maclaren after the Founder; the others are Moseley (after Henry Moseley), Congreve (after William La Touche Congreve), and Case (after William Sterndale Case, master from 1910 to 1922). Each league has its own identifying colour: Case red, Congreve yellow, Maclaren green, and Moseley blue. In their leagues the boys wear a polo shirt in the league colour, along with the rest of the uniform, blue corduroys, and brown shoes. On Sundays as well as on special days, such as the school concert, and the end of term, boys wear a tweed jacket, with a light blue coloured shirt, black shoes, and grey flannel trousers. Their ties are in their league colours.

The school has traditionally been a rival of the Dragon School, which is also in north Oxford.

Notable Old Summerfieldians

See also Category:People educated at Summer Fields School
Henry Moseley, physicist
Archibald Wavell, Viceroy of India
Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister


  1. Pat Marston had the habit of putting up a sign indicating his mood on his days on duty.


  1. McIntosh, Peter C. "MacLaren, Archibald". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/50298. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. 1 2 Richard Usborne, 1964.
  3. 'Faber, David James Christian', in Who's Who 2010 (London: A. & C. Black, 2009)
  4. Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hugh. "It's yesterday once more". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  5. Adam Nicolson. Prepared for Anything. The Times Magazine, June 25, 1994. pages 24-30.
  6. J.A.Gere and John Sparrow (ed.), Geoffrey Madan's Notebooks, Oxford University Press, 1981, at page 23


External links

Coordinates: 51°46′41″N 1°15′47″W / 51.77806°N 1.26306°W / 51.77806; -1.26306

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