The Oratory School
|Motto||Cor ad Cor Loquitur (Latin)
Heart speaks to Heart
|Type||Independent day and boarding school|
|Religion||Roman Catholic (Oratorian)|
|President||Lord Judge the Lord Chief Justice|
|Head Master||Clive Dytor MC|
|Chairman of the Governors||M. H. R. Hasslacher|
|DfE URN||123282 Tables|
|Former pupils||Old Oratorians|
The Oratory School is an independent Roman Catholic boarding and day school for boys aged 11 to 18 in Woodcote, Oxfordshire, England. Founded in 1859 by Cardinal John Henry Newman, it has historical ties to, but is not officially affiliated with fellow Oratorian schools, the London Oratory School and the Brompton Oratory in London. Although a separate entity from the nearby Oratory Preparatory School, it shares a board of governors and a common history. Newman founded the school with the intention of providing a classical education to Roman Catholic boys and it has since been known as "the Catholic Eton".
According to the Good Schools Guide, 70% of pupils achieve A/B grades at A Level and that the school "enjoys inspirational leadership, has achieved GSG 'overall best in UK' for three years running and is consistently at the top of the tree", with "state-of-the-art" boarding facilities and an ongoing refurbishment programme under way.
The Oratory School was founded under the supervision of John Henry Newman in 1859 and the first boys arrived before work began on the first day of May that year, "Sunday 1 May New School began."  The purpose was to provide a Roman Catholic alternative to Eton College, particularly for the sons of converts from Anglicanism who considered existing Catholic schools culturally and socially inferior. The idea of founding a school had been in Newman's mind for some time before that and education of the young was an abiding interest. In the early 1850s he had been invited by the Irish Catholic bishops to establish a Catholic university in Dublin, but it did not prove a success, though he was able to formulate the principles published as The Idea of a University. When the Irish project came to an end, he was approached by a group of Catholic laymen, principally converts to Roman Catholicism from the Oxford Movement, to set up a Catholic boarding school for boys run on English public school lines, rather than the monastically based Catholic schools that already existed such as those run by the English Benedictine Congregation. The original school was opened next to the house of the Oratory Fathers in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
The Oratory School moved from Edgbaston to Caversham Park, Caversham and, in 1942 (when Caversham Park was requisitioned to become a BBC listening station, now BBC Monitoring), after a short sojourn in exile at Downside, finally removed to its present location at Woodcote Estate, Berkshire. The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory handed over control of the school to a Governing Body in 1931, but links with the Birmingham, London and Oxford Oratories remain strong.
The school has four senior (13-18) houses and one junior (11-13) house. The senior houses are: Faber, (house colour is yellow), FitzAlan (black), Norris (green) and St. John (red). The junior house is known as St. Philip (sky and navy blue).
The school has an orchestral and choral tradition, with former choristers of Westminster Cathedral among the pupils. The school choir, known as 'Schola Cantorium', has over 60 pupils, and around half the pupils across the school play a musical instrument or attend singing lessons. Several pupils have recently joined the National Youth Choir of Great Britain.
The Oratory is one of only three schools in the United Kingdom to possess a real tennis court (the others being Canford and Radley) and plays this sport, hosting championships and international tournaments. The court is home to the Oratory Tennis Club, a club primarily made up of paying members of the public, but also of boys from the school. Every boy in the School has a chance to experience the game. The School has produced two national players in Richard Greenland and Paul Knox.
It was the first location in the United Kingdom to construct a Real Tennis court for 80 years, finishing the building in 1990. Over recent years the UK Professional Singles Tournament has been held at the court, and in April 2006 the World Championships were held there in which world no. 1 Rob Fahey (Australia) beat USA player Tim Chisholm.
ISI Inspection Reports
The Independent Schools Inspectorate says: "Pupils and staff show deep and committed support to the Catholic values that underpin the school", and "genuine excitement and enjoyment shine through in sporting, musical and creative activities. Individual pupils and teams have achieved distinction in a wide range of activities, particularly in sport", and pupils "have recently represented Great Britain in rowing, shooting and real tennis, England in cricket and Ireland in rugby".
Notable former pupils and masters
- Tom Arnold, literary scholar, was a master 1862-65.
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, poet and Jesuit, was a master 1867-68.
- Fr Edward Pereira, headmaster 1910-21 and benefactor to the School.
- Fr Guy Sich was Headmaster 1931-33
- Illtyd Trethowan, Benedictine monk, philosopher and author
Notable former pupils (Old Oratorians)
- Niccolo d'Ardia Caracciolo Prince of Cursi
- Jonathan Bailey (actor)
- Hilaire Belloc Poet and Writer
- Michael Berkeley, Composer and broadcaster
- Robert Berkeley of Spetchley Park, Deputy Master Berkeley Hunt 1923-28
- Francis Nicholas Blundell Landowner, Conservative politician, justice of the peace
- John Pius Boland Olympic Gold Medal Winner (Tennis)- Athens 1896, Barrister and Irish Politician
- Francis Boulle Entrepreneur, star of reality TV programme Made in Chelsea
- Francis Bird Aide-de-Camp to H.M. the Queen
- Sir Richard Crichton Mitchell Cotts 4th Baronet
- Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart 2nd World War General awarded Victoria Cross VC
- Gervase Cary Elwes English vocalist and diplomat
- Ed Conway the first Economics Editor of Sky News (2011-)
- Simon Elwes English society portrait painter
- Ayoola Erinle Rugby Footballer, Biarritz Olympique
- Rudolph Edmund Aloysius Feilding, Viscount Feilding, Lieutenant-Colonel Coldstream Guards Distinguished Service Order DSO
- William Rudolph Stephen Feilding, 10th Earl of Denbigh and 9th Earl of Desmond
- Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk Premier Duke and Earl Marshal of England
- Bernard Fitzalan-Howard, 16th Duke of Norfolk Premier Duke and Earl Marshal of England
- Edmund Fitzalan-Howard, 1st Viscount Fitzalan of Derwent British Conservative politician and the last Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
- Benny Howell, Hampshire cricketer
- Igor Judge, Baron Judge, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales since October 2008, and first President Queen’s Bench Division of High Court
- Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian British Politician and Diplomat
- Sir Edward Leigh Conservative MP, Gainsborough 1997–present
- Sir Michael Levey Director of the National Gallery 1974-86
- Tim Male Rower, Great Britain - Athens 2004
- Jack Miller Republican United States Senator from 1961 to 1973
- Lieutenant-Colonel George Henry Morris First commanding officer to lead an Irish Guards battalion into battle.
- Edward Noel, Lieutenant-Colonel, DSO Army officer, Diplomat and spy.
- Sir Edmund George Felix Paston-Bedingfeld, 9th Baronet of Oxburgh Hall
- Alex Pearce, Irish professional footballer who currently plays for Reading
- George Pereira Brigadier-General, Explorer of Asia, writer, diplomatist
- Tom Sandars, TV and Radio presenter, Sky
- Edward Sheil, Irish nationalist politician and Member of Parliament son of General Sir Justin Sheil
- Sir Humphrey de Trafford, 4th Baronet MC, prominent English racehorse owner
- Andy Vilk (Rugby Player, Benetton Rugby Treviso, England 7s Captain)
- George M. von Furstenberg, economist
- Simon Wickham-Smith (composer and Mongolist)
- Gregory Woods (poet, critic and academic)
- Michael Tolkien, J. R. R. Tolkien's second son.
- List of independent schools in the United Kingdom
- Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference
- Oratory School
- Profile on the Good Schools Guide
- Newman’s Letters and Diaries, Volume XIX, p.120.
- Shrimpton, Paul (2005). A Catholic Eton? Newman's Oratory School. Leominster: Gracewing Publishing. pp. 26, 29, 41–43. ISBN 9780852446614.
- Website of the International Real Tennis Professionals Association
- Independent Schools Inspectorate report 2007
- Fr Edward Pereira, Birmingham Oratory
- Michael D. C. Drout (2006). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. p. 668. ISBN 978-0-415-96942-0.
- Cardinal Newman's School:150 years of The Oratory School, Reading by Tony Tinkel