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19th September 2023

The History of Old School – Oakham School’s Oldest Building

Back in 1584, Robert Johnson founded Oakham School with the first building being Old School.

Robert Johnson was Archdeacon of Leicester who utilised his income from four church positions to set up a number of charitable institutions, including two free grammar schools, Oakham School and Uppingham School.

On November 16 1584, Johnson acquired the site for Old School, which he bought from two gentlemen (Anthony Collins & George Woodnet) from London. Signs that foundations from the chantry chapels on the land prior to Old School have been incorporated into the edifice can be seen on the east side of the building today.

Old School was not only the first but the only Oakham School building for some time. After being restored in the eighteenth century, Old School remained the sole classroom building for 300 years. Following this, Old School was later restored in 1994 as engraved into the stone above entrances.

Hebrew, Latin, Greek, English History (1066-1603), Geography of the British Isles, English Composition and dictation, science and modern languages were all taught within Old School over these years.


Current Day

Today, although Oakham School has seen large expansion, Old School is still very much in use. Exams, activities and small drama productions are often conducted within this historic building.

Productions of The Dumb Waiter and The Hound of the Baskervilles; hosting Oakham Pride talks and puppy yoga are just some of the events that Old School has hosted in recent years.

Inside Old school there are some beautiful frescos, painted by the sister of W.L ‘Tom’ Sargant, Headmaster 1902-1929, which depict the story of Gareth and Lynette probably taken from Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’. They remain in situ and are protected by shutters.


Old School Entrance with Stone Engraving

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