Bradfield College finalises purchase of historic church
Bradfield College has completed the purchase of a church with historic ties to the school, following years of negotiations with the Oxford Diocese.
The Grade II*-listed St Andrew's Church dates from the 14th century and has been associated with the school since the 19th century.
The school’s founder Thomas Stevens also served as parson for Bradfield and helped expand the church considerably with the aid of renowned architect George Gilbert Scott.
Local word has it that Mr Stevens established the school in the hope that it would produce young choristers for St Andrew’s.
However, the growth of the school meant that it was no longer viable for staff and pupils to use St Andrews, with the college’s on-site chapel eventually becoming favoured over the older complex.
Permission has now been granted for the school to convert the re-acquired church into a multi-purpose learning centre, open to the school community.
It will include a library, seminar rooms, refreshment area and presentation space.
However, there is no intention to do away with the historic interior, which - as per an agreement with the church authorities - will be retained to the maximum possible extent by the school
Among the key architectural features singled out for preservation are the memorial plaques and pews.
The churchyard itself will remain under the custodianship of the Bradfield parochial church council (PCC), with the exception of a small parcel of land that will physically connect it to the College’s grounds.
The priest-in-charge of Bradfield PCC, the Rev Julian Gadsby, said: “The PCC are delighted that Bradfield College have been able to take on ownership of the church, and that the long-term future of the building is secure.
“We are excited by the plans for its development and very much look forward to seeing its transformation.”
Bradfield head Christopher Stevens said: “Uniting St Andrew’s Church with the college offers an exciting and fitting future for a building of great architectural merit.
“We look forward to ensuring this beautiful building becomes a vibrant space once more so it can inspire a new generation of Bradfield pupils.”