Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

October 2010

This months News



Oxhill Boarding School

A facility now missing in Oxhill is a Methodist boarding school, but not so in the nineteenth century!   There was a Church school at Old Church House, but the strong Methodist following in the village, particularly among the farmers, required Methodist schooling for their children.  The first firm evidence of a school at Payn’s House came with the discovery of an advertisement in the Warwick Advertiser for 4th June, 1836, when Mr Ward of Oxhill (who owned both Oxhill House, the family’s main residence, and also Payn’s House) advertised “premises situate at Oxhill, lately occupied as a seminary for young Gentlemen and eligible for that purpose; consisting of a respectable House, Schoolroom, Stable, Orchard and Gardens etc.”  A room in the barn at Payn’s House has for generations been referred to as “the schoolroom”, although the reason why had been long forgotten. More confirmation came when a correspondent to the website sent a copy of a letter written in 1833 by a young Frederick Edmunds of Banbury to his elder brother Richard, then at school in Oxhill.  (The Edmunds family were Methodists, and had connections with Oxhill Chapel.  Richard himself later grew up to become a lay preacher.)

It seems that, despite the advertisement of 1836, the house was not re-let as a boarding school, and was used instead as a private house by younger members of the Ward family.  (The censuses reveal no neat lists of boys resident at Payn’s House.)   However the school itself did continue, as indeed did boarding, apparently on a “living out” basis.  The 1861 census lists four children living around the village listed both as “boarders” and as “scholars”.  Two of these are the children of Alfred Baxter, a widower of 35 who lives separately, his occupation given as “Schoolmaster and Methodist Preacher”.  I assume the school continued in the Payn’s House schoolroom, without resident master, and with children coming daily or boarded out rather than in.  Both boys and girls now seem to be included.  Another pupil of the time was Edmund Styles, Bill Gardner’s grandfather from Tysoe, born in 1849.   A book on Heritage family history (the two families intermarried) says that “Teddy” had gone to boarding school in Oxhill, where he learnt to read music, going on to be a fine musician and choirmaster at Tysoe Chapel.  It is good to think of an ongoing choral tradition in our house – I had imagined something more akin to Dickens’ Dotheboys Hall!

In the 1871 census and beyond there is no further hint of the Payn’s House school.     The opening of the village Board School in 1878 in any case would have rendered it obsolete.

Next time I’ll explore the thin evidence that the school may have had even earlier roots - in the eighteenth century.

Ann Hale

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Last modified: September 29, 2010