The Old Grammar School in Bampton was built by Robert Vesey (d.1635), a wealthy local merchant living in Chimney, now a nearby village. At that time, Bampton was the largest town in the area and it badly needed a school for the children of the increasing large merchant class. Vesey commissioned the building of the school and is was opened in 1653, 18 years after his death.
He also left money in trust (£100, that would have been £1,000,000 in today’s money) to fund the school master; coal to warm the classroom; and for the upkeep of the school building. As the centuries passed, the value of the trust decreased, other schools were opened in Bampton and the local children went to the national school that opened in 1873.
The Grammar School building continued to be used as a village meeting place and for a range of other village functions. The library moved arrived in 1964 and the Girl Guides, the Brownies and the Scouts had their meetings on the upper floor. There are still some people in the village who remember these gatherings.
I grew up in Bampton in the 1950s/60s. A friend recently sent me a link to your website, in particular the information about the renovation of the Grammar School. I was particularly interested in the photo of the attic as I remember going to Brownies up there and being told by Brown Owl – Mrs Ham – not to run around too much in case we went through the floor!
From Theresa Lock, Kintbury, Berkshire
In the early 1960s however, the floor upstairs and the stairs to it were deemed unsafe and were so bad that the stairs were removed and the only access now is via a ladder. The floor remains unsafe and the roof, made of wonderful old Cotswold stone, was repaired in 1911 and, more recently, thanks to a village fund-rasing campaign, in 2017.
In conjunction with the village as a whole, the Archive is raising more money to both restore the upstairs part of the Old Grammar School, and to replace the stairs to make it accessible and usable once again.
One of the aims of the restoration of the Old Grammar School is to give the Bampton Community Archive a permanent home – where visitors can visit and access the Archive database; browse the collection of historic local history books; see the current exhibition; and browse the shop of local arts and crafts.
Downton AbbeyThe school building will be familiar to fans of the popular TV series Downton Abbey as it features as the Community Hospital in the fictitious village of Downton.
The Robert Vesey Room
The Archive shop and exhibition space, both shared with West Ox Arts, are located in the Robert Vesey Room on the ground floor in the Old Grammar School building. Opening hours and information on how to find us.
The Archive puts on three or so exhibitions a year in the Robert Vesey Room on subjects as varied as Bampton at War, Bell Ringing in Bampton, Agriculture and Morris Dancing Tradition in Bampton.
Many of the exhibitions featurd an accompanying book and these can be browsed, read and purchased via the button below.