The Info List - The Oratory School

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The Oratory School
The Oratory School
/ˈɒrætɒri/[1] is a boys' independent Roman Catholic day and boarding school in the country town of Woodcote, some 6 miles (9.7 km) north-west of the town of Reading. It is the only remaining all-boys Catholic boarding school in Britain.[2] Founded in 1859 by John Henry Newman, The Oratory has historical ties to the Birmingham
Oratory and is the only school founded by Newman. Although a separate entity from the nearby Oratory Preparatory School, it shares a board of governors and a common history. Newman founded the school with the intention of providing boys with a Roman Catholic alternative to Eton College.[3] According to the Good Schools Guide, the school "enjoys inspirational leadership, has achieved GSG 'overall best in UK' for three years running and is consistently at the top of the tree", with "state-of-the-art" boarding facilities and an ongoing refurbishment programme under way.[4] The Independent Schools Inspectorate said in 2007: "Pupils and staff show deep and committed support to the Catholic values that underpin the school", and "genuine excitement and enjoyment shine through in sporting, musical and creative activities. Individual pupils and teams have achieved distinction in a wide range of activities, particularly in sport", and pupils "have recently represented Great Britain in rowing, shooting and real tennis, England in cricket and Ireland in rugby".[5]


1 History 2 Music 3 Real tennis 4 Notable head masters 5 Controversy

5.1 Sexual abuse 5.2 Disciplinary

6 Notable alumni 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

History[edit] The Oratory School
The Oratory School
was founded in 1859. The first boys arrived before work began on 1 May that year.[6] The objective was to provide a Roman Catholic alternative to other schools, particularly for the sons of converts from Anglicanism who considered existing Catholic schools culturally and socially inferior.[7] The idea of founding a school had been in Newman's mind for some time before that and education of the young was an abiding interest. In the early 1850s he had been invited by the Irish Catholic bishops to establish a Catholic university in Dublin, but it did not prove a success, though he was able to formulate the principles published as The Idea of a University. When the Irish project came to an end, he was approached by a group of Catholic laymen, principally converts to Roman Catholicism from the Oxford Movement, to set up a Catholic boarding school for boys run on English independent school lines, rather than the monastically based Catholic schools that already existed such as those run by the English Benedictine Congregation (Worth, Downside and Ampleforth). The original school was opened next to the house of the Oratory Fathers in Edgbaston, Birmingham.[citation needed] In 1922 the Oratory School moved from Edgbaston
to Caversham Park, Caversham. In 1942 (when Caversham Park
Caversham Park
was requisitioned to become a BBC
listening station, now BBC
Monitoring), and after a short sojourn in exile at Downside, it finally removed to its present location at Woodcote
Estate, Berkshire. The Fathers of the Birmingham
Oratory handed over control of the school to a Governing Body in 1931, but links with the Birmingham, London and Oxford Oratories remain strong.[citation needed] Music[edit] The school has an orchestral and choral tradition, with former choristers of Westminster Cathedral
Westminster Cathedral
among the pupils. The school's prestigious youth choir, known as 'Schola Cantorum', has over 60 pupils and requires high performance caliber and therefore standard auditions, they have performed at venues such as Windsor Castle and for the Pope, as well as frequent venues and performances to public around London, most recently Nelson's mass and Zadok the Priest in Hyde Park. Around half the pupils across the school play a musical instrument or attend singing lessons. Several pupils have recently joined the National Youth Choir of Great Britain.[4] Real tennis[edit] The Oratory is one of five schools in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
to possess a real tennis court (others being Canford, (Wellington College) and Radley) and plays this sport, hosting championships and international tournaments. It was the first location in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
to construct a Real Tennis court for 80 years, finishing the building in 1990. Over recent years the UK Professional Singles Tournament has been held at the court, and in April 2006 the World Championships were held there in which world no. 1 Rob Fahey (Australia) beat USA player Tim Chisholm.[8]

The school's main entrance.

Notable head masters[edit] The current head master is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

1862 – 1865 Tom Arnold 1867 – 1868 Gerard Manley Hopkins 1910 – 1921 Edward Pereira 1933 – 1939 Illtyd Trethowan

Controversy[edit] Sexual abuse[edit] In February 2013, it was discovered that Jonathan O'Brien, a former teacher, had been involved in sexually abusing boys aged ten to sixteen while working at The Oratory in the 1980s. O'Brien was sentenced to thirteen years imprisonment.[9] Disciplinary[edit] In February 2014, there were allegations that an older pupil had been beating younger students and killing animals outside school.[10]

The playing fields.

Notable alumni[edit] Main article: List of Old Oratorians Former pupils include tenor Gervase Elwes, war artist Simon Elwes, Rugby union
Rugby union
player Danny Cipriani, Olympic gold medallist John Pius Boland, Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
recipient Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart, Made in Chelsea stars Francis Boulle and Frederik Ferrier. George Balfour, one of the main characters in the critically acclaimed play Posh, by Laura Wade, is an Old Oratorian. Balfour was played by Jack Farthing in the 2014 film adaptation The Riot Club.[11] See also[edit]

List of Victoria Crosses by school List of rowing blades by school and university


^ Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN 9781405881180  ^ http://www.tatler.com/guides/schools-guide/2016/public/the-oratory-school ^ Shrimpton, Paul (2005). A Catholic Eton? Newman's Oratory School. Leominster: Gracewing Publishing. pp. 26, 29, 41–43. ISBN 9780852446614.  ^ a b Profile on the Good Schools Guide ^ Independent Schools Inspectorate report 2007 ^ Newman’s Letters and Diaries, Volume XIX, p.120. ^ Shrimpton, Paul (2005). A Catholic Eton? Newman's Oratory School. Leominster: Gracewing Publishing. pp. 26, 29, 41–43. ISBN 9780852446614.  ^ Website of the International Real Tennis Professionals Association ^ Thorne, Lucy (16 January 2015). "Jonathan O'Brien appeal: Former The Oratory School teacher loses bid to cut sentence".  ^ Millward, David (6 February 2014). "Industrial tribunal told of 'appalling behaviour' of pupils at Oratory School".  ^ Wade, Laura. Posh: Script and screenplay (2010). "George Balfour character card".

Cardinal Newman's School:150 years of The Oratory School, Reading by Tony Tinkel

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Oratory School.

The Oratory School
The Oratory School
website Profile on the Independent Schools Council website

v t e

Schools in Oxfordshire


Banbury Academy Bartholomew School The Bicester School Blessed George Napier RC School Burford School Carterton Community College Cheney School Cherwell School Chiltern Edge School Chipping Norton School Cooper School Didcot Girls' School Faringdon Community College Fitzharrys School Gillotts School Gosford Hill School Henry Box School Icknield Community College John Mason School King Alfred's Academy Langtree School Larkmead School Lord Williams's School Marlborough School, Woodstock Matthew Arnold School North Oxfordshire Academy The Oxford Academy Oxford Spires Academy St Birinus School St Gregory the Great RC School Wallingford School The Warriner School Wheatley Park School UTC Oxfordshire Wood Green School

Independent (preparatory)

Abingdon Preparatory School Christ Church Cathedral School Cothill House Dragon School Emmanuel Christian School New College School The Oratory Preparatory School Rupert House School St Hugh's School Summer Fields School


Abingdon School Al-Madina School Bloxham School Carfax Tutorial Establishment Cokethorpe School Cranford House School D'Overbroeck's College Education First EF International Academy Greene's Tutorial College Headington School Kingham Hill School King's School Magdalen College School The Oratory School Our Lady's Abingdon Oxford High School Oxford International College Oxford Montessori Schools Radley College Rye St Antony School St Clare's School St Edward's School St Helen and St Katharine Shiplake College Sibford School Tudor Hall School


Bishopswood School Mulberry Bush School Parklands Campus Swalcliffe Park School

Further education

Abingdon and Witney College Banbury and Bicester College City of Oxford College Denman College Henley College


Carmel College City of Oxford High School for Boys Drayton School European School, Culham (closed in 2017) Falconbury School Milham Ford School Peers School Southfield Grammar School Oxford Military College St Mary