Ellesmere College

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This article is about the school in England. For the school in New Zealand, see Ellesmere College (New Zealand).
Ellesmere College
Motto Latin: "Pro Patria Dimicans"
(Striving for one's country)
Established 1879
Type Independent school
Day and boarding school
Religion Church of England
Headteacher Brendan Wignall
Founder Canon Nathaniel Woodard
Location Ellesmere
SY12 9AB
Coordinates: 52°53′43″N 2°53′31″W / 52.89522°N 2.89189°W / 52.89522; -2.89189
Local authority Shropshire
DfE URN 123600 Tables
Students 615
Gender Coeducational
Ages 7–18
Publication The Ellesmerian
Website www.ellesmere.com

Ellesmere College is an independent co-educational day and boarding school located near Ellesmere, in rural northern Shropshire, England. Founded in 1884, it is a school of the Woodard Corporation.


The College was founded in 1879 by Canon Nathaniel Woodard as a boys' school in association with the Church of England, on a 114-acre (460,000 m2) campus, with views across to the Breidden Hills. The land was provided by Lord Brownlow. Originally called St Oswald's School, the College opened on 5 August 1884 with 70 boys and four masters. The building was designed by Richard Carpenter and Benjamin Ingelow. Education was based on Anglo-Catholic values within a traditional public school framework. The College was intended to provide education at a low cost for the sons of families with limited finances.

Despite the school's Christian foundation, until 1926 there was no permanent chapel and a temporary chapel operated in the crypt beneath the Dining Hall. In 1926 a chapel was designed by Sir Aston Webb, but only the first portion was built in 1928. Modified plans were drawn up in 1932 by Sir Charles Nicholson and the building was completed in 1959. The newly completed Chapel and Dining Hall were destroyed by fire in 1966. They were both reopened in 1969, and building work continued at the College throughout the 1970s, including new classrooms and additional boarding accommodation.

During World War II the College stored a number of notable paintings from the Walker Art Gallery including Dante's Dream.

In 1978 the College became the location for the filming of Absolution starring Richard Burton, though the Chapel scenes were filmed at Pinewood and Bradfield College. It was not one of Burton's favourites, though it is notable as being the first film role for Billy Connolly.

Since 1980 the College has been home to a Schulze Organ, originally installed at St Mary's, Tyne Dock.

Coat of Arms[edit]

Ellesmere College - Grant of Arms - Full Achievement.jpg

Arms were granted to "Saint Mary and Saint Nicholas Corporation Trustee" for the use of Ellesmere College on 12 April 1954, the cost of the Grant being met by the Old Boys' Association. The Grant is kept displayed in a case fastened to the wall of the Ante-Chapel. The Arms are:

Shield: Per chevron Purpure and Or two Celestial Crowns fessewise of the last in chief a Cross flory also Gold in base a Raven proper holding in the beak a Golden Annulet.

Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours Standing on a Mount Vert a Raven as in the Arms.

Motto: Pro Patria Dimicans.

The blazon (heraldic description) means that the shield is divided per chevron, the upper part being purple (Purpure) and the lower gold (Or). Celestial crowns have eight points of which five are conventionally shown in the illustration, each point ending in a star. They are "of the last" tincture mentioned, that is, gold, and are arranged horizontally (fessewise). At the top of the shield (in chief) is a golden cross with each limb ending in a fleur de lis (flory), and at the base of the shield is a raven in its natural colours (proper) holding a golden ring (annulet) in its beak. The Wreath is the conventional representation of the twisted band of material of the principal metal and colour of the shield, in this case gold and purple, which was worn round the helmet and helped to bind the crest and mantling to it. The mantling represents the cloth worn over the back of the helmet and body-armour to prevent overheating by the sun. The crest is a raven, as in the Arms, standing on a green mound.

The shield, crest and motto have all to do with the saintly King Oswald to whom the School is dedicated and who fought a battle at nearby Oswestry. The celestial crowns represent Oswald's kingship and the heavenly crown gained by him; the cross stands for the cross which the king raised before his victory against the heathen Penda of Mercia at Heavenfield and for Oswald's saintly life. The colours purple and gold are royal colours. The raven refers to a legend concerning Oswald's coronation, when the chrismatory was accidentally broken. A raven miraculously appeared with new oil, bearing in its beak a letter containing the assurance that the oil had been consecrated by St Peter himself. The ring in the raven's beak refers to the story of Oswald's sending the bird to a heathen princess whom he wished to convert and marry. This emblem is also used by the College Scout Group (by permission of the Headmaster and the Headquarters of the Boy Scouts' Association) as the Group emblem which is embroidered in black on the points of their scarves which are yellow bordered with purple. The motto, which may be translated STRIVING FOR ONE'S COUNTRY, can also refer to Oswald's struggle to maintain the independence of Northumbria against heathen aggression. The motto was probably chosen by the School's first Custos, Sir Offley Wakeman.

Student Numbers[edit]

Total Number of Pupils: 585, Age Range: 7-18

  • Number of Boys: 385
  • Number of Girls: 200
  • Number of Boarders: 187
  • Number in 6th Form: 140

Notable Old Ellesmerians[edit]

Former pupils of Ellesmere College are referred to as "Old Ellesmerians".


External links[edit]