An Intellectual Culture at Bloxham School

At Bloxham, students can attend a host of academic talks and seminars over the course of a year. On Tuesday night, Biology students listened to a lecture on the topic of ‘How the Brain Changes Itself’ (which looked at how the brain can adapt when we lose a sense) and, recently, the English Society listened to a talk on ‘The Development of the Novel’. History students have engaged with revisionist views of World War I and students studying French deepen their experience of the culture by attending the French Film Appreciation Society.

This term also sees the start of a new and exciting discussion group for aspiring intellects. The Academic Seminar is where some of our older students will be able to meet regularly to explore and discuss ideas that have been important in Culture, History, Science, Art and Literature. Another forum where students can voice their views and practise the skills of argument is the fortnightly debate where all are welcome. This term’s motions have already included “This House believes in being business-like” and “This House Believes that The West Should Leave The Middle East”. The motion for the next debate is “This House Believes Britain is Best for Holidays”.

In addition, academic trips help to deepen understanding and appreciation of subjects. Economics students, for example, visit the Bank of England and the London Metal Exchange, whilst Sixth Form Biologists will soon be attending a talk by the Marine Biologist Monty Halls at the University of Oxford.

Bloxham School and WW1

Bloxham School and the First World War

The first day of the 2014 summer holiday (June 28th) marked the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the trigger for the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Bloxham pupils were more likely to have been concerned by cricket and the approaching end of term than by events unfolding in the Balkans. By the time pupils returned to school in September 194 from their summer holiday, Britain had declared war on Germany and the first, costly battles of the war had been fought. The first Bloxhamist to die in the war was not an Old Boy but a master, James Pastfield, who joined up in August 1914 and was killed in France on 21st December near Hazebrouck in Northern France.

Bloxham’s commemoration of the centenary focuses on two main events:

  • The centrepiece of our 1914 commemoration comes in November 2014, with a dramatic production entitled ‘79’, an ambitious collaboration between the Drama, Music and History departments. The piece incorporates music and drama to tell the stories of some of the 79 Bloxhamists who died in the Great War. This is an original piece based on research material used by the cast to devise the production, which our Head of Drama, Sam Brassington will refine into a final script. The production will take place in The Great Hall from 20th-22nd November at 7.30pm with a Friday matinee at 2pm.


  • The School Choir will be touring Belgium in March/April 2015, visiting Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges and giving a number of concerts. The tour will culminate in the party visiting the Ypres Salient at the very heart of the Western Front and the choir singing at the Menin Gate Last Post ceremony in Ypres on Wednesday 1st April. This is a great honour for Bloxham School and the choir, and we are very grateful to OB Matthew Dixon for his help in enabling this very prestigious engagement to happen.


  • The School’s chosen charity for the Michaelmas Term will be SSAFA (the Soldiers’, Sailors' and Airmen's Families Association), which was founded in 1885 and does excellent and unheralded work for the armed forces and their families.  In November, at the school’s Remembrance Day service, the name of another Bloxhamist, JC Wilson, will be added to our new Roll of Honour for the First World War (see the Old Bloxhamist section in this magazine for details).

The next in the school’s continuing programme of lectures on aspects of the First World War will take place on Wednesday 3rd December, when Old Bloxhamist Edward Dixon will talk on the artists of the Great War. This talk, which is open to anyone, will take place in the Vallance Library at 7.30pm.


Bloxham -1 July 1914

1st July 1914: In the aftermath of the assassination in Sarajevo, Bloxham School’s Camera Club visited Shipton for its annual outing. On a beautiful summer’s afternoon, boys lounged in the garden of Ellen Hinde (daughter of the Founder, PR Egerton), blissfully unaware of the effect that events unfolding in the Balkans would have on their lives. By the time the school returned from the summer holidays in September, Britain was at war and several of these pupils had chosen to leave school immediately in order to join up.


100 Years on.

Tomorrow (28th June) will mark the 100th anniversary of the shooting  in Sarajevo of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, the event which triggered the First World War.

Most Bloxhamists in 1914 would have been much more concerned with school cricket than events in the far-off Balkans. The previous day (Saturday 27th June) the 1st XI played Chipping Norton 1st XI. Four members of the Bloxham side that day would perish in the war, including two members of staff (in those days teachers could play in the 1st XI for club but not school matches). Term ended in the middle of July in 1914. The OTC (CCF) went off to annual camp at Tidworth after term ended but cut the camp early when Britain declared war on Germany on 4th August. By the time the school returned in September for the start of the school year, Britain had been at war for a month and had already suffered heavy losses in the first two weeks of fighting. Several pupils and a number of members of staff who would otherwise have returned in September joined the armed forces over the summer, including the two teachers, John Nuthall and James Pastfield, mentioned earlier. Pastfield, a 22 year old Classics teacher, would be the first member of the Bloxham community to die in the war, in December 1914.

Old Bloxhamist London Dinner

The Old Bloxhamist Society is pleased to invite members to the 2014 London Dinner on Friday 19th September at 7.30pm at the East India Club, 16 St James's Square, London SW1Y 4LH ( ). The evening will begin with a Reception at 7.00pm sponsored by the Headmaster. Dress Code will be Lounge Suit for gentlemen and the equivalent for ladies. The cost for the three course dinner, coffee and half a bottle of wine per person is £65 per head. If you are a recent leaver in full-time education, please contact me for information on discounted tickets. If you are interested in attending, please contact the Resident Secretary, Simon Batten, for details.

Two of our youngest and most entrepreneurial Old Bloxhamists have agreed to speak at the Dinner. Barney Williams and Sam Ryan both left Bloxham in the last five years and have developed Jumpin, a taxi booking and sharing mobile application for students which started in Leeds, where they were both at university, and has now spread to Newcastle, Liverpool and Birmingham, with plans for further expansion. In the past year they have won a Duke of York Entrepreneur Award and attended a meeting at No. 10 Downing Street for representatives of Start Up businesses.


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