Radley College

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Radley College
Radley crest.png
Kennington Road

, ,
OX14 2HR

TypePublic school
Independent boarding school
MottoLatin: Sicut serpentes, sicut columbae
([wise] as serpents, [innocent] as doves [Matthew 10:16])
Religious affiliation(s)Christianity (Anglican)
Established1847; 173 years ago (1847)
FounderWilliam Sewell
Department for Education URN123300 Tables
Chairman of the CouncilDavid Smellie
WardenJohn Moule
Age13 to 18
Enrolmentc. 670
Colour(s)Red and white
PublicationThe Radley College Chronicle
YearbookThe Radleian
Former pupilsOld Radleians

Radley College (formally St Peter's College, Radley[1]) is a boys' public school (independent boarding school) near Radley, Oxfordshire, England, which was founded in 1847.[2][3] The school covers 800 acres (3.2 km2) including playing fields, a golf course, a lake, and farmland.

Radley is one of four boys-only, boarding-only independent secondary schools in the United Kingdom, the others being Winchester, Harrow and Eton. The five other public schools listed in the Public Schools Act 1868 have since become co-educational: Rugby (1976), Charterhouse (1971), Westminster (1973), Wellington (2005), and Shrewsbury (2014). For the academic year 2015/16, Radley charged boarders up to £11,475 per term, making it the 19th most expensive HMC (Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference) boarding school.[4]


South front of Radley Hall – the "Mansion" – with part of the school's main corridor to the right

Radley was founded in 1847 by William Sewell (1804–79) and Robert Corbet Singleton (1810–81). The first pupil was Samuel Reynolds, who in 1897 wrote his reminiscences of school life.

The school was originally housed in Radley Hall, now known as "Mansion". Radley Hall was built in the 1720s for the Stonehouse family. Later in the 18th century the estate passed to the Bowyer family, who commissioned Capability Brown to re-design the grounds. After the school was founded, extensive building work took place, beginning with Chapel (replaced by the current building in 1895), F Social and Octagon (the earliest living accommodation for the boys), Clock Tower, and in 1910 the dining hall (Hall). Building work has continued throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, with two new Socials, a weights-room/gym, a rowing tank, a theatre, and a real tennis court being completed since 2006. The Science Block was also expanded and refurbished in 2019. The grounds include a lake, a golf course and woodland.

On 31 August 2017, The Daily Telegraph[5] reported that a whistleblower had suggested that teachers had helped their students in an art GCSE exam. Investigations by the exam board found no fault beyond a minor technical breach of exam regulations. Radley College issued a statement expressing full support for staff and procedures both within the art department and across the school.

On 6 July 2018, a plane trailing a banner reading "Make Radley Great Again" was flown over the school, in protest against Warden John Moule's campaign of modernisation. The £750 cost of the plane hire was raised by pupils at the school.[6]

Price-fixing cartel case (2005)[edit]

In 2005 Radley College was one of fifty of the country's leading independent schools which were found guilty by the Office of Fair Trading of running an illegal price-fixing cartel which had allowed them to drive up fees.[7] Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £21,360 and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling three million pounds into a Trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period in respect of which fee information was shared.[8] In their defence, Jean Scott, the head of the Independent Schools Council, said that independent schools had previously been exempt from the anti-cartel rules applied to business; they were following a long-established procedure in sharing the information with one another and they were unaware of the current law.[9]

School Terms[edit]

There are three academic terms in the year,

  • The Michaelmas Term, from early September to mid December.
  • The Lent Term, from early January to late March.
  • The Summer Term, from mid April to late June or early July.


Houses at Radley are called Socials. There are 11 Socials at Radley, all of which are boarding houses. Each Social has around 70 boys. All Socials are distinguished by the colours of the pupils' ties and gowns.

Social Colours
A Blue and Brown
B Purple and Black
C Pale Blue and Dark Blue
D Blue and White
E Pink and Black
F Scarlet and Gold
G Red and Dark Blue
H Dark Green and Light Yellow
J Light Blue and Coral
K Green and White
L Gold and Navy Blue

Academic aspects[edit]

West front and spire of the College Chapel

The school was inspected by the independent schools' Inspectorate in February 2008. The inspection report rated the school's standard of education as "outstanding", the highest rating.[10] There was a subsequent inspection by ISI in 2013.[11]

In 2012, the Independent review of A level results, based on government issued statistics, ranked Radley 31st in the UK, ahead of Malvern (32nd), Harrow (34th), Winchester (73rd), Tonbridge (74th), Eton (80th) and Wellington (89th)[12] By 2019 they were still in the top 100 but had dropped to 75th place.[13]


Radley College Boat House on the Thames

Sports played at the College are rugby football in the Michaelmas (Autumn) Term, hockey, rowing and football in the Lent Term and cricket, rowing, lawn tennis, and athletics in the Summer Term.

Other sports played include: badminton, basketball, beagling, fencing, fives, lacrosse, rackets, real tennis, rugby sevens, squash and waterpolo.[14]


Rugby is the major sport of the Michaelmas (Autumn) Term. The school fields 21 rugby teams on most Saturdays of the Michaelmas term and some Thursdays.


Radley is recognised for its rowing, having won events at Henley Royal Regatta on 6 occasions.[15] Only Eton, Shrewsbury and St Edward's have won more events at the Regatta.


Cricket is played in the summer term. Some Old Radleians have progressed to play cricket for England or captain county level cricket teams. The cricket grounds (including Smithson Fields) have been described as 'arguably one of the best in the country'[16] while the sporting facilities have been described as world class.[17]


18 hockey teams are fielded during the lent term. Teams train on three astroturf pitches and a full sized indoor hockey pitch. Radley takes part in the Independent Schools Hockey League.[18]


12 football teams are fielded in the lent term. Radley competes in ISFA Southern Independent Schools Lent Term League. There is a yearly pre-season training camp before term starts.[19]

Other Sports[edit]

Sports such as fives, rackets, sailing, badminton and polo are represented, as well as scuba diving. A real tennis court opened in July 2008, which made Radley College the only school in the world to have fives, squash, badminton, tennis, racquets, and real tennis courts all on campus.[20]

Southern Railway Schools Class[edit]

The school lent its name to the thirty-first steam locomotive (Engine 930) in the Southern Railway's Class V of which there were 40.[21] This Class was also known as the Schools Class because all 40 of the class were named after prominent English public schools. 'Radley', as it was called, was built in 1934 and was withdrawn in 1962. A nameplate from 930, Radley, is now displayed in the stationery department of Shop (the College's shop).

List of Wardens[edit]

Old Radleians[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Joyce Huddleston – freelance technical writer, editor and abstractor
  3. ^ "Radley College". Radley Village. Archived from the original on 8 March 2005. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  4. ^ http://www.privateschoolfees.co.uk/uploads/1/1/2/4/11247026/boarding_fees_2015_2016.pdf
  5. ^ "Cheating in Exam". The Daily Telegraph. London. 31 August 2017.
  6. ^ "Radley College revolt over modernising headteacher who has changed 100-year-old crest". The Daily Telegraph. London. 14 July 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Private schools fee-fixing ruling". London: BBC News. 9 November 2005.
  8. ^ "OFT names further trustees as part of the independent schools settlement". The Office of Fair Trading. Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  9. ^ "Private schools send papers to fee-fixing inquiry". The Daily Telegraph. London. 1 March 2004. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  10. ^ "ISI Inspection report 2008". Radley College. 21 February 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  11. ^ "Radley College :: Independent Schools Inspectorate". isi.net. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  12. ^ "The Top 100 Independent Schools at A-level". The Independent. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  13. ^ https://www.best-schools.co.uk/uk-school-league-tables/list-of-league-tables/top-100-schools-by-a-level/
  14. ^ https://www.radley.org.uk/sport/sports-at-radley
  15. ^ "Results of Final Races – 1946–2003". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  16. ^ SCHOOL SPORT: Search is on at Radley for next Strauss (From Oxford Mail)
  17. ^ "'World class' facilities at Radley and Upton to boost area's Olympic boom (From Oxford Mail)". Oxfordmail.co.uk. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ [3]
  20. ^ Smith, Russell (12 June 2006). "School Sport: Search is on at Radley for next Strauss". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  21. ^ "Southern E-Group". Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  22. ^ "William Wood's Diary". Radley College Archive. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  23. ^ "William Burdett-Coutts". Rhodes University Trust. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  24. ^ Charles Mosley, ed., Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage (107th edition, 2003), vol. 1, page 641; vol. 2, p. 2289
  25. ^ 'Macnab of Macnab, James Charles' in Who's Who 2012 (London: A. & C. Black, 2011)
  26. ^ "Player profile: Charles Worsley". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  27. ^ THE RADLEIAN 1994 097 – Radley College Archives

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°41′35″N 1°15′05″W / 51.69304°N 1.25150°W / 51.69304; -1.25150