September 21st 1917

Today is the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Oxford Preparatory School, or the Oxford Little Boys’ School as it was first known, in 1877.

As shown in this notification in the University Gazette, there were 30 founders, including four Heads of Colleges and seven Professors.

AE Clarke, Headmaster 1877-86

Two rooms were rented at 26 St Giles, known then as Balliol Hall, and Mr Clarke was appointed as the first headmaster. The first intake consisted of 14 boys, including the son of the Dean of Christ Church, Lionel Liddell.  What a shame his older sister (of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ fame) was too old to be a Dragon!

A number of these founders had sons who have featured on these pages. Rev. Tyrwhitt is the father of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt and W Esson is the father of Major William Esson (killed when HMS Russell sank). Professor Price’s son, Lieut-Col Bartholomew Price, won the DSO in the South African War as well as being ‘Promoted for Service in the Field’ in the current war.

Mr Clarke took me on as an assistant master in 1882 and a strong personal relationship grew up between us over the following years. He was most forbearing with the many mistakes made by a young and untrained teacher, and let me run the games and out-of-school activities in my own way without interference.

Once he obviously should have given me the sack when, after taking the Cricket XI in a brake to Cothill, on our return we found a police sergeant awaiting us at the Boarding House, and with him a rubicund gentleman with a bandaged eye who complained that we had all shot at him with pea-shooters when crossing Folly Bridge!

I have to admit that, having confiscated said item on the outward journey, the real culprit was not any of the boys…


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