Bradfield College reunited with its roots after completing purchase of historic St Andrew’s Church
Bradfield College has completed the purchase of St Andrew’s Church from the Oxford Diocese and Church Commissioners. The acquisition by the College secures the future of the historic Grade II* listed building which is intimately tied to the College’s history.
St Andrew’s Church (Grade II*) was originally constructed in the 14th century and has been closely associated with Bradfield College since the mid-nineteenth century when our founder, Thomas Stevens, the local parson, expanded the Church substantially along with his friend, the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott.
The foundation of the College in 1850 is reputed to stem from the founder’s desire to enhance his Church choir with young choristers. Indeed, a World War I memorial window was added to the north aisle in 1916 for Lt Blackall Simonds, son of one of the first pupils at Bradfield, of the 1st south Wales Borderers 24th Regiment, ‘Killed whilst leading the attack in a quarry at Vendresse in France, 26th Sept. 1914.’ The Church was inextricably linked to the College until the College grew so large that it needed its own place of worship.
As the College now has its own Chapel, retaining the Church as a place of worship was not a viable option. The necessary consents have therefore been secured to convert St Andrew’s into a unique learning centre for the College, including a library, seminar rooms, and a dedicated presentation space and refreshment area, whilst retaining the architectural features that make it such a special place.
The College recognises the historical significance of the building and has sought to retain a number of important features such as the font, memorial plaques and sample pews. As well as the building the sale comprises a small piece of land to enable the creation of a link from the existing College campus directly into the Church. Other than this small piece of land to accommodate the link building, the churchyard does not form part of the sale and will remain under the ownership of Bradfield PCC and open to the public (subject to certain localised restrictions during the conversion process for health and safety reasons).
Upon completion of the sale Revd Julian Gadsby, Priest in Charge of the Parish of Bradfield 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 Headmaster, Dr 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.”