Girls were taught in idyllic surroundings at Holton Park

Basket weaving with Rosalie Quainton, Patricia Moore, Dorothea Wakelin and Audrey Parsler

The cast of Pride and Prejudice, performed at Wheatley Military Hospital in June 1951

Rosemary Edwards, Pat Wall, Gillian Bowden and Anne Parsler are taught ironing and sewing

Doreen Robinson, Pamela Keep and Janet Gadge in a cookery lesson

First published in Memory Lane by

HUNDREDS of girls were taught in idyllic surroundings at Holton Park Girls’ Grammar School before it was abolished.

The school occupied the manor house and extensive grounds of the historic Holton Park estate, near Wheatley, from 1949 to 1971.

Before becoming a school, the estate had been used as a Civil War base, family home and military hospital.

Oliver Cromwell made Holton House his headquarters during the Civil War, and his daughter Bridget married Henry Ireton there in June 1646, a few days before the fall of Oxford to General Fairfax’s Parliamentarian troops.

The estate was owned by the Biscoe family in the 19th century, and later by the Briggs and Balfour families.

During the Second World War, the 97th American Field Hospital was built in the grounds to treat wounded troops.

In 1948, the Balfour family sold the house and park to Oxfordshire County Council, which decided it should be the site for a new school.

East Oxfordshire Girls’ Grammar School, which for many years had occupied a site in High Street, Thame, where the Co-op store now stands, was relocated to Holton.

During the headships of Miss Davies and Mrs Mills, hundreds of girls from all over east Oxfordshire were transported to Holton Park Girls’ Grammar School.

A surprisingly high number of pupils earned university places at a time when few girls went on to further education.

The school closed in 1971 when it merged with The Shotover School in Wheatley to form the new comprehensive school of Wheatley Park.

Memories of the grammar school will be revived at a reunion of ‘old girls’ and staff at Wheatley Park School on Saturday, June 13, at 3pm.

Tea will be served on the terrace of the arts centre, the former mansion house, where an art exhibition will be held.

Former students will also be able to tour the hi-tech John Milton Centre, Wheatley Park’s latest addition, housing English and media arts.

School business manager Kevin Heritage tells me: “We hope as many ‘old girls’ as possible will come along with their memorabilia from those halcyon days and bring their old school friends, or use it as an excuse to meet after all these years.”

Please contact him at the school on 01865 872441 ext 165 or send an email to kheritage@wheatley-park.oxon.sch.uk

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