New website celebrates school's 575th anniversary

Pupils being taught at Chipping Campden Grammar School around 1900.The old grammar school around 1930.A new website that celebrates six centuries of a Cotswold school has gone live.

Chipping Campden School launched its new archive website as the culmination of a two-year history project to commemorate its 575th anniversary in 2015.

The website is a living history of Chipping Campden School from its foundation in 1440 to the present day. It explores 575 years of school history and contains a wealth of archive material and documentation from the school’s fascinating past. 

The project has been carried out in partnership with the Campden History Society and Gloucestershire Archives with support from school trustees and a grant of £30,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Over the centuries the school has seen many changes and has gone from being a boy’s school to a mixed grammar, then a comprehensive and in the 21st century, an academy. 

The website charts these and many other significant events in an interactive timeline and extensive online archive collection. 

The 'new' Chipping Campden School at its present location in Cidermill Lane as it looked in 1927.A team of local volunteers have been working with pupils and staff to build the website, which brings together official records with images, anecdotes and personal memorabilia. 

The research and digitization has taken more than 18 months and the team is seeking further archive material from users of the new site. 

The project was the brainchild of former pupil Judith Ellis, now chair of Chipping Campden History Society, and further developed by a group of former students with the school trustees. 

Judith said: “I didn't think about it when I was at the school, but now I realise how important it is to save all our memories, photographs and documents for the future. 

"It is so interesting to hear from fellow students and the website will enable us to reach out across the world.”

A key part of the success of the project has been the partnership with Gloucestershire Archives. Many important documents are preserved in the archives’ strong rooms, and a group of dedicated volunteers have been transcribing and digitizing material relating to the school.

The grammar school Cadet Corps around 1914.Cllr Ray Theodoulou, cabinet member responsible for archives at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “The project volunteers have been working hard to bring some significant historic documents to life, making them accessible to more people in the county. 

"We’re really pleased to have been able to support them to do this.”

As well as a great deal of historical material and personal memories, the site gives users the chance to find old school friends in the Chipping Campden School alumni network. 

John Sanderson, Chipping Campden School’s principal, said: “I am particularly excited about the alumni network. We look forward to gathering a global community of ex-Campden students online and at a series of reunion events in the coming months.

“The team has done a remarkable job and we’re really thrilled to be launching this fabulous new site to mark our 575th anniversary.” 

As part of the project, past pupil centenarian Lionel (Bill) Jones - who celebrates his 101st birthday this month - returned to his old classroom to share his memories of attending Chipping Campden in the 1920s. 

The girls' hockey team in 1929.
The old school, situated in the High Street, is now privately owned, but the ornate chimneypiece remains with the bust of what is thought to be Sir Baptist Hicks, one of the school benefactors. 

Bill’s memories are recorded in a series of interviews that will be available to listen to on the website. 

He said: “I remember the headmaster, Mr Matthew Cox standing at his desk, sternly watching as 
the boys and girls came in for assembly. Due to overcrowding, we had the use of Campden Town Hall as a classroom.

“For about one year I was at the new school. The country was in a sorry state, never having properly recovered from the 1926 labour strike, and in 1929 came another strike. Times were very hard for everyone. 

“My parents could no longer afford to keep me at school, so my education was curtailed by almost six months. The day I left school I was called into the headmaster's study for a farewell interview. 

"He commiserated with me and said that he could have wished that I had been able to stay on and go in for teaching, for he thought that was my role.”

Commenting on the project, Nerys Watts, head of Heritage Lottery Fund in the South West, said: “Schooldays are said to be the happiest of our lives and they certainly have a profound influence on all of us.  

"We were delighted to be able to help Chipping Campden School to explore and record the fascinating memories of its former pupils, and to ensure that its long and distinguished history can be preserved for future generations.”
Workshops at the new grammar school in 1928.
The school swimming team of 1956.

© Loving The Cotswolds. 2018.