Oxford Military College

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Oxford Military College
Established 1876
Closed 1896
Type Independent school
military college Boarding school
Religion Church of England
Location Oxford Ring Road Garsington Road
Coordinates: 51°43′51″N 1°12′26″W / 51.7308°N 1.2072°W / 51.7308; -1.2072
Gender Boys
Ages 13–18

Oxford Military College was an all-male private boarding school and military academy in Cowley, Oxford, England, from 1876 to 1896. The military college opened on 7 September 1876. Prince George, Duke of Cambridge was the patron of the Oxford Military College.[1] The military college was declared bankrupt in 1896. The college's 88 acres (36 ha) site later housed Morris Motors (1929–32) and the Nuffield Press.[2] The main college building (manor house) was demolished in 1957.[3] The buildings were used by the Nuffield Press until the mid 1990s after which they were converted into residential flats.


The College provided a four-year college preparatory curriculum: First year (age 13–14); Second year (age 14–15); Third year (age 15–16); Fourth year (age 16–17); Final year (age 17–18). The school drew its cadets from the United Kingdom and the Colonies. Candidates, whether sons of officers or not, were prepared for commissions in the military service, for any profession or business. The senior pupils were enabled to enter the University as unattached students, and to proceed to degrees. It combined classical studies with a military curriculum. The College provided instruction in military riding, infantry drill, lance, sword, carbine drill, swimming and gymnastics.


The staff initially consisted of a Head Master, Second Master & Senior Classical Master, 13 Assistant Masters, 2 examiners (classics), a physician & visiting surgeon, organist, an inspector & instructor of gymnastics, and a riding master.

Some of the courses at the College were instructed by current or former officers. Brigade Sergeant-Major Royal Horse Artillery William H. Garlick, for example, was Riding Master at Oxford Military College c. 1883.[4] In 1894, the staff listed in Whitaker's Almanack consisted of a head master G.B. Grundy, 8 Assistant Masters, and a Secretary to Directors. William John Locke, the novelist, was a master at the Oxford Military College at Temple Cowley in 1889 and 1890.


The buildings, which had been used previously by the Cowley Middle Class School, were purchased for the College in July 1876. A 16th-century manor house stood on Oxford Road near the corner with Hollow Way. The campus consisted of school buildings, playing fields, and a central parade square. The College was extended with the addition of an east wing designed by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson. John Parker, 1st Earl of Morley laid the foundation stone on 21 July 1877.

  • College hall, 16th-century former manor house; demolished in 1957
  • Chapel, 1870, Decorated style, from designs by Mr. Edward George Bruton.
  • library
  • gymnasium
  • central parade square.[5]


The Oxford Military College Council consisted of: Lord Wolseley, Lord Wantage, Lord Napier (of Magdala), the Marquis of Hertford, the Marquis of Lorne, General Sir Dighton Probyn, General William McMurdo, Colonel Duncan, Sir Charles Tupper and Sir Saul Samuel, Sir Walter Buller, Sir James Francis Garrick, and Sir Arthur Blyth.[6]


Candidates for military commissions were to enter not later than the age of 13 in the UK, or 14 in the colonies. The 13-week training duration consisted of three terms and vacations over a three- to four-year duration.[citation needed]

Tuition and fees[edit]

The fee ranged from 90 to 100 guineas a year.[citation needed]

Colonian scholarships[edit]

During an address in 1886 to the students of the Oxford Military College, Lord Wolseley expressed regret that there were no students from the Colonies since youth from the Colonies would well together the empire.[7] Six colonial scholarships were offered subsequently annually, two scholarships in each of the principal colonies. The scholarships of £50 and £25 were awarded for three years depending on residency and satisfactory conduct. To qualify for entry via scholarship, the headmaster of the College set a paper, which was decided by the examiners for general proficiency or excellence in one or more subjects. The scholarships were awarded to boys of good character between 14–16 years of age, whose parents or guardians lived in the Colonies.[8] Owners who held over 20 shares of the College could nominate a student at a lower rate than others.


Annual prizes were awarded for French, dictation, mathematics, religious instruction (given by Bishop of Oxford John Fielder Mackarness); history (given by Sir Edmund Lechmere, 3rd Baronet M.P.), German (given by Colonel Moncrieff).[9]

List of Commandants[edit]

  • Lieut.-Colonel Arthur Sutherland Macartney, R.A., retired, Commandant (1880–93).
  • G.B. Grundy, Head Master 1894-96

Notable former pupils[edit]

Alumni includes military, civic and business leaders.

  • Captain (temporary Major) Charles Annesley Acton was educated at the Oxford Military College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. After serving in Malta, Crete, Egypt, India and China, Maj Acton was killed in action on 25 September 1915.[10]
  • Lt.-Col. William Maxwell Acton D.S.O. (1878–1939) was educated at the Oxford Military College. After serving in the Boer War (1900–1902), the Great War (1914–1916), Lt.-Col Acton retired from the military in 1922.
  • His Excellency Sir William Lamond Allardyce Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George, Knight of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Governor and Commander in Chief of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Captain and honorary Major Thomas [V] Frewen of Brickwall (1874–1938) was educated at Oxford Military College and served in the 6th Battalion of the Royal Fusilliers[11]
  • Col. John Knox McClintock CBE, D.L. (1864–1936) was educated at Oxford Military College and commanded the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Londonderry during the Great War and served as a politician in Ulster.[12]
  • Sir Eric Campbell Geddes GCB, GBE, PC (1875–1937), businessman and politician, was educated at Oxford Military College, where he played rugby.
  • Captain Archibald Alastair McLeod was educated at the Oxford Military College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and was commissioned in 1900. After serving in the Boer War (Mounted Infantry), and in Nigeria 1906-08 (West African Frontier Force), Captain Archibald Alastair McLeod was killed in action 2 November 1914 - 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment.[13]
  • Major John Hulke Plumbe was educated at the Oxford Military College. After serving in Egypt in 1882, he was killed in action 25 November 1899 at Graspan, South Africa during the Boer War (Light Infantry)[14]
  • Francis Vane
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Leycester Haymes DSO


  1. ^ visit by the Duke of Cambridge, Oxford Military College
  2. ^ Jenny Wilding Nuffield Press: A Jubilee History (1985).
  3. ^ Oxford Military College
  4. ^ William H. Garlick
  5. ^ Kelly's directory of Berkshire, Bucks and Oxon, 1883.
  6. ^ Oxford Military Scholarship. Te Aroha News, Volume IV, Issue 204, 21 May 1887, page 8.
  7. ^ Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume VIII, Issue 1399, 14 August 1886.
  8. ^ Oxford Military College Colonial scholarships, Australia.
  9. ^ Church & State Saturday 6 July 1878.
  10. ^ "Orders, Decorations and Medals Auction 17th-18th September 2009". Content.yudu.com. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Access to Archives". The National Archives. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  12. ^ John Knox McClintock
  13. ^ . Captain Archibald Alastair McLeod Gloucestershire Regiment Officers Killed 1914
  14. ^ Last Post - Roll of Officers who fell in South Africa 1899-1902 by Mildred G. Dooner, Naval and Military Press


  • Roger T. Stearn, Oxford Military College (1876–1896). In Soldiers of the Queen, issue 83, December 1995, Victorian Military Society.
  • John Teckleborough, Seven years of Cadet life, containing the records of the Oxford Military College (1885).