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 with the understanding that it will shortly be converted into one family home.  It was previously managed by an independent trust. 

 Thelma Telling says farewell to pupils in 1975


This is a constituted membership organisation :

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

contact  :   [email protected]

         facebook : Friends of St. James Old School, Cowley

The membership form, with subscription details, can be downloaded here

Donations are welcome  : cheques to Friends of St James Old School, posted/delivered to the St James Centre, Beauchamp Lane, Oxford OX4 3LF  

On line  : sort code : 30-98-97     a/c number : 33416268  

You can also download an 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 attended by industrialist and philanthropist William Morris (later Lord Nuffield) 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 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.