Scope and Content

A training school for schoolmasters was first established in Summertown in Oxford in 1840 (see O32/1) but by as early as 1846 the site was already considered inadequate. A site for a new Training College was purchased at Culham in 1851 and the foundation stone was laid in the same year by Bishop Samuel Wilberforce. The College was built to accomodate 100 men and opened in January 1853 (for plans of the College buildings dated 1852 see S82/1/Y1/1-13). A Practising School, where students could gain experience of teaching, opened on the site in 1853 (see O32/10).

Although facilities were somewhat basic and discipline strict, the College continued to thrive. Given its rural location, Culham was able to place an emphasis on the teaching of gardening, handicraft and rural science, which distinguished it from other Training Colleges, and its students were often highly sought after. In the 1960s and 70s Culham also developed a reputation for teaching courses in Special Education and the teaching of children with disabilities.

However, due to its relative smallness and rural location, Culham was often threatened with closure. It fought of threats in 1919, 1937 and 1944, and often responded to such threats with substantial building projects designed to improve facilities for students and staff, and increase its capacity. The population of the College had grown to at least 140 by 1959 before increasing rapidly thereafter, first to 300, then 400, then up to 600 in 1970. Female students were first admitted to the College in 1966.

The decision was taken to finally close Culham in 1976, and the last student intake was admitted in 1977. When the College closed in 1979, its buildings were taken over for use as a European School, for the children of scientists employed at the Joint European Torus (JET) project at the nearby Culham Laboratory.

The work of Culham College was partly continued through the establishment of the Culham College Institute to research and develop the teaching of Religious Education in schools.

Throughout its life, Culham was supported by a loyal and active old boys club. Originally called the Culham Club, its name changed to the Culham College Association after the closure of the College. The activities of the Club can be seen throughout the collection, mostly at O32/15, but also at O32/11, O32/12 and O32/14 where Club members supported Culham students fighting in the First and Second World Wars, and fought off threats to close the College.

The catalogue has been organised into the following categories:

O32/1: Diocesan Training School, Summertown

O32/2: College Administrative Papers

O32/3: College Premises

O32/4: Chapel

O32/5: Principal

O32/6: Staff

O32/7: Student Records (Academic)

O32/8: Examples of Students' Work

O32/9: Student Activities

O32/10: Practising School

O32/11: First World War

O32/12: Second World War

O32/13: Centenary

O32/14: Threats of Closure

O32/15: Culham Club/ Culham College Association

O32/16: Culham Educational Foundation/ Institute

O32/17: European School

O32/18: Oxford Diocesan Training College Foundation for Women

The bulk of this collection was deposited as Accession 5035 in September 2002 and was subsequently augmented by Accessions 5126, 5253, 5326, 5331, 5362, 5400, 5467, 5511, 5546, 5621, 5678, and 5699 from May 2003 onwards. Prior to deposit the Culham College Association maintained their own archive and assigned individual reference numbers to items in this collection; a concordance of old and new reference numbers is provided at the back of the hard-copy catalogue.

Dates of attendance at the College, where known, are given in brackets througout the catalogue.

Catalogued between November 2011 and February 2013 by Hannah Jones. Additional listing and sorting work by Rosemary Shurgold (volunteer).

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