Category Archives: Club event

Club visit to Radley College chapel

On 16 December 2021, members of the Radley History Club enjoyed an enjoyable and interesting visit to see the Chapel’s new extension with Estates Bursar, David Anderson.

The chapel was designed in 1893 by the famous Victorian architect Thomas Graham Jackson and is Grade II* Listed. In 2015, Purcell Architects won a design competition for an extension to the Chapel. Fortunately work on the extension was able to continue through the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, as it was a slow-moving traditional project with only a handful of workers on-site at any one time. Minor finishing touches were still being put in place on the day of the Club visit just after the end of term. Indeed the original chandelier from the chapel had yet to be rehung in the centre of the sanctuary roof.

Exterior of the newly extended chapel at Radley College, Oxfordshire, in December 2021
Radley College Chapel with its new sanctuary, December 2021

The main aim of the extension was to create additional seating in the chapel to accommodate the significant increase in the number of pupils following the opening of a new boarding house. A secondary aim was the enhance the capabilities of the space, for example, to better accommodate larger groups of musicians.

The key element was the construction of a completely new sanctuary at the end of the chapel. This involved knocking out a large hole in the existing wall behind the altar without removing the glass from the large stained glass window above! The octagonal timber-framed roof of the new sanctuary (see below) was designed and constructed by Carpenter Oak Ltd.

Octagonal timber ceiling of the new sanctuary
The timber ceiling of the new sanctuary , December 2021

Other changes included:

  • alterations to extend and strengthen the balcony to allow the installation of a magnificent new organ
  • the addition of two alcoves on each side of the top of the chancel, each providing 20 seats
  • installation of new pews in front of these alcoves indistinguishable from the existing pews
  • sourcing matching floor tiles for the space between the new pews and below the new stone arches leading to the sanctuary
  • lighting the chapel ceiling for the first time and installing LED lamps on all the pews
  • refurbishment of the 15th century reredos behind the altar
  • repositioning of memorials such as those to Old Radleians who died in the Boer War and the First World War on the walls next to the sanctuary
Members of Radley History Club view the mangnicent new organ at the far end of the chapel

Above is the view from the top of the chancel looking towards the balcony and the new organ. Below is the view looking down the chancel towards the new sanctuary.

View towards the new sanctuary at Radley College chapel, December 2021

After the visit Club members enjoyed mince pies and a hot drink courtesy of Radley College.

Radley College’s new guide to the chapel has more about the history of the chapel and the recent work.

Club visit to Botley War Graves Cemetery

On a warm and sunny July day, two groups of Club members enjoyed tours of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site at Botley in west Oxford. The tours were led by CWGC volunteer, Dick Richards, who had previously given talks to the Club on the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey and the work of the CWGC.

Group of Radley History Club members at the Botley War Graves Cemetery in Oxford
Grop of Radley History Club members with tour guide Dick Richards

Dick started the tour with a brief history of the cemetery and its key features – the Stone of Remembrance, the Cross of Sacrifice, and a domed shelter containing a cabinet with a register of the burials and a copy of the cemetery plan. The tour group then moved around the cemetery, with Dick talking about a selection of the burials he’d researched and pointing out interesting graves such as those of the only two military women buried there (a nurse from the First World War and a WAAF from the Second World War) and those of the oldest and youngest men buried there.

CWGC' cemetery at Botley in Oxford
Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s cemetery at Botley in west Oxford

The Botley War Graves Cemetery is the largest CWGC site in Oxfordshire with some 740 graves. It contains 156 Commonwealth burials from the First World War, during which the 3rd Southern General Hospital was housed in the Examination Schools and a number of other buildings in Oxford. In the Second World War, the cemetery was designated a Royal Air Force regional cemetery and was used by RAF stations in Berkshire and neighbouring counties. There are 516 Commonwealth burials (one of them unidentified) from this conflict. In addition to the Commonwealth war graves, there are some 70 graves of other nationalities (German, Italian, Belgian, Czech, Dutch, Polish), including that of the only Greek soldier buried in the UK. The cemetery became a CWGC cemetery in 1951; the yew hedge around the site dates from this time. The CWGC sits within the municipal cemetery, one of the four in the city of Oxford.

Information on the CWGC website including the Cemetery Plan

More information about the Oxford (Botley) CWGC Cemetery

175th Anniversary of Didcot to Oxford railway line

There were events on Saturday 15 June 2019 at all five stations along the line to celebrate the event – with the excitement and added bonus of two steam engines (Clun Castle and Flying Scotsman) passing through on excursions.

The celebrations at Radley began with the unveiling of a permanent board with a timeline of the history of Radley Station on the railings at Radley Station (on platform 1 for trains to Oxford and beyond). Radley History Club is very grateful for the grants from the Greening Lamborn Trust, Radley Village ShopRadley Parish Council and GWR to cover the cost of the board. Entikera Limited provided extensive and indispensable support in kind.

Information board featuring a timeline of Radley Stationory of Radley Station
Information board featuring a timeline of Radley Station

Events then moved to the garden of the Bowyer Arms where there was:

  • a display of railway pictures and artefacts by Radley History Club, Friends of Radley Station and former railwayman and Radley resident Vic Gackowski, and the reminiscences of Harold Gasson, a former GWR fireman
  • storytellers Polly Mountain and Ed Blagrove in costume relating tales about Radley and the railway line
  • a display of work by children from Radley Primary School about the railway
  • copies of Radley People and the Railway 1843-2013 and other Club books for sale

More details and photos of the celebrations at Radley

Presentation of new list of vicars to Radley Church

Presentation by Richard Dudding of Radley History Club of a new list of Radley's vicars to Rob Genny, vicar of Radley
Presentation by Richard Dudding of Radley History Club of a new list of Radley’s vicars to Rob Genny, vicar of Radley

Before the 11 am service on Sunday 18th February 2019, Club chairman Richard Dudding presented the Revd Rob Glenny with a framed list of the known incumbents of St James the Great from the middle of the 16th century to the present day. The new list replaces one that has hung near the church door since it was presented to the Church by the Club in October 2005. The replacement list adds some new names and corrects some minor errors found during research for the Club’s book, The Story of a Village Church: St James the Great, Radley published in October 2016. The book contains details about all the names on the list bar the last one, that of Rob Glenny who was appointed after the book’s publication.

The new list is in memory of Stanley Baker, the Club’s long-serving archivist who did much research into Radley vicars and was a committed attender at the Church. The Club is very pleased to have been able to use a bequest from Stan towards the cost of the replacement list.

Club celebrates its 20th birthday

The first meeting of Radley History Club was held on 14 May 1997. Before the main meeting on 8 May 2017, some 55 members and guests enjoyed a glass of bubbly and a piece of specially commissioned birthday cake to celebrate 20 years of Radley History Club. Chairman Richard Dudding called on Barbara Wootton, one of two of the founder members who is still a member today, to cut the cake which featured various aspects of Radley and Radley History Club. Barbara was assisted in this task by Rita Ford, who while not present at the first meeting, joined what was then a small group of enthusiasts in September 1997 and has been a stalwart of the Club ever since.

20th birthday cake enjoyed by members on 8 May 2017
20th birthday cake enjoyed by members on 8 May 2017
Cake by Mandy Collingwood, Photo by Ian Collingwood
Barbara Wootton, on the left in the pink jumper, and Rita Ford cut the cake
Barbara Wootton, on the left in the pink jumper, and Rita Ford cut the cake

There was also a display, put together by Rita and Brian Ford, about the Club’s founding and events over the years. Copies of the Club’s many publications were also on show for members to look at while they enjoyed their drink and piece of cake.

Display about the Club's history
Display about the Club’s history at the celebrations

Read about the exhibition to celebrate the Club’s 10th Anniversary