St. James Old School


The building next to St. James Church, which used to accommodate St. James Church of England school, was sold in 2018 and is currently being converted into a single family home, due to be completed by the end of 2020.  It was previously managed by an independent education trust under the management of the Diocese of Oxford. 

 Thelma Telling, the last Headteacher of the school,  says farewell to pupils as it closed in 1975


This is a constituted membership organisation which will remain in existence until the school's conversion to a home is finished and a plaque installed on the building to acknowledge its heritage. We also hope to publish a booklet on the history of the school and hold a final reunion of former scholars

The officers are :
Chair :                             Lesley Williams
Treasurer :                      Richard Mohun
Membership Secretary : Rosanne Butler

contact  :   [email protected]

Membership is now closed 

You can download an earlier information leaflet here


It was the Reverend Georgie Moore who first saw the need to establish a school for the children of the parish of Church Cowley. The original Cowley St James School sat beside the Norman church of St James (believed to date back to the 1120s), in what is now Beauchamp Lane, in the centre of the medieval settlement. It was opened in 1834, pre-dating the reign of Queen Victoria by 3 years.

The school was notably attended by industrialist and philanthropist William Morris (later Lord Nuffield), who lived in James Street, East Oxford,  throughout much of the 1880s, when children would have remained at the school until the age of 14. At this time the parishes of Church Cowley and Temple Cowley were still villages distinct from the City of Oxford. Ironically, it was in no small part due to Morris that the area experienced such rapid growth in the 1940s and 50s and that there was a need for a larger school.

It was the success of the Morris Motor Company that drove the demand for homes for the workers in his factories to be built in the wider Cowley area and it was on what became known as the Airfield Estate that the new Church Cowley School (the Airfield School) was built on Bartholomew Road, less than half a mile from the original school. Demand for school places meant that both schools remained in use until 1975 when the original school finally closed its doors to pupils who were all to attend the renamed Church Cowley St James C of E Primary School from that point onwards.