History of the School

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We are proud of the history of our school.

Rye St Antony was founded in 1930 by two Oxford teachers, Elizabeth Rendall and Ivy King who named the school after a church in Rye, East Sussex, dedicated to St Anthony of Padua. It was on their visit to this church that the two teachers made the momentous decision to open a school.

The school was first situated in central Oxford before moving to its present 12 acre site, on Headington Hill, less than a mile from the city, in 1939. Rye St Antony’s first pupils, both boys and girls, numbered just eight and there was no facility for boarding at this time. The school roll quickly grew and the move was made from Hamilton Road to Woodstock Road, where boarders were first accommodated.

It was in September 1939 just at the outbreak of World War II that the opportunity arose for the school to move to its current site in Pullen’s Lane, initially in Langley Lodge. Seven years later in 1946 after the War had ended, the adjacent property, The Croft was purchased. The Croft was built by the prolific Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse who also designed the Natural History Museum and Manchester Town Hall.  The combined site now comprised two substantial Victorian houses and 12 acres of beautiful gardens and woodland overlooking the iconic university city of Oxford.

A steady programme of building and sympathetic development has given Rye the excellent teaching and residential facilities it has today. This includes the new high specification Performing Arts Centre opened in February 2005 and the purpose built Morton Sports Centre in 2008. The self-contained Sixth Form Centre and Cottage Boarding House were redeveloped in 2010. The school’s latest development is a £2m project to add a new reception area, state of the art ICT suite and Food Technology centre, completing in 2015.

Rye St Antony is unique as a girls’ independent Catholic school founded not by a religious order but by lay people. This is a legacy which is valued in today’s school community where pupils are taught to respect one another and themselves, contribute to the community, show a commitment to charity and justice and be aware of the wider world.

Did you Know?

A unique and well known tradition at Rye is the 'Tangerine Party', held at the end of each Michaelmas Term. This is believed to have originated from gifts of fruit being donated to pupils whilst rationing was enforced during World War II. All members of staff, pupils and parents congregate informally in the school’s Rendall Hall to sing Christmas hymns, share Christmas cake and are each given a tangerine.