ABOUT US

The Bampton Community Archive

The Bampton Community Archive was founded in 2002 to record and save the social history of this unique village in Oxfordshire.

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The archive contains almost 6,000 items relating to life in the village past and present.These include photographs, documents, newspaper cuttings, sound and video files and much more. Each item in the archive is an important part of the telling of the story of the village: from photographs of the restoration of the church bells; to a stone age hand axe; to the history of the WWII airfields around the village; to the documenting of the filming of Downton Abbey in Bampton.

Each item in the archive has been carefully recorded, categorised, described and tagged, and you can browse the entire catalogue from the Our Collections menu.

If you have any items that could be aded to our growing collection, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

The Bampton Community Archive is a registered charity, number 1097295.

For more information about the village of Bampton and the activities going on there, visit the Bampton Beam, the quarterly community magazine.

The Old Grammar School

The Old Grammar School in Bampton was built by Robert Vesey (d.1635), a wealthy local merchant living in Chimney, now a nearby village. At that time, Bampton was the largest town in the area and it badly needed a school for the children of the increasing large merchant class. Vesey commissioned the building of the school and is was opened in 1653, 18 years after his death. He also left money in trust (£100, that would have been £1,000,000 in today’s money) to fund the school master; coal to warm the classroom; and for the upkeep of the school building. As the centuries passed, the value of the trust decreased, other schools were opened in Bampton and the local children went to the national school that opened in 1873.

The Old Grammar School in Bampton, Oxfordshire
The Old Grammar School in Bampton, Oxfordshire was built in 1653 by Robert Vesey

The Grammar School building continued to be used as a village meeting place and for a range of other village functions. The library moved arrived in 1964 and the Girl Guides, the Brownies and the Scouts had their meetings on the upper floor. There are still some (quite old!) people in the village who remember these gatherings.

In the early 1960s however, the floor upstairs and the stairs to it  were deemed unsafe and were so bad that the stairs were removed and the only access now is via a ladder. The floor remains unsafe and the roof, made of wonderful old Cotswold stone, was last repaired in 1911.

The school will be familiar to fans of the popular TV series Downton Abbey as it features as the Community Hospital in the fictitious village of Downton.

Downton Cottage Hospital
The door to the library in Bampton (in the Old Grammar School) repurposed as the Cottage Hospital in Downton Abbey.

The Save Bampton Old Grammar School Campaign

In conjunction with the village, the Archive is now trying to raise money to both restore the upstairs part of the Old Grammar School, and to replace the stairs to make it accessible and usable once again.

The campaign website is here, and the associated Downton Mile campaign site is here.

One of the aims of the restoration of the Old Grammar School is to give the the Bampton Community Archive a permanent home – where visitors can visit and access the database catalogue; browse the collection of historic local history books; and see the current exhibition.

The Robert Vesey Room

The shop and exhibition space (shared with West Ox Arts) are located in the Robert Vesey Room that can be found in the Old Grammar School building also shared with Bampton’s public library. Opening hours and information on how to find us can be found here.

For a great history lesson on Robert Vesey, read his bio on the Save Bampton Old Grammar School campaign website.

Exhibitions

The Archive puts on three or so exhibitions a year in the Robert Vesey Room on subjects as varied as Bampton at War, Bell Ringing in Bampton, Agriculture and Morris Dancing Tradition in Bampton.

Exhibition opening times are here and the list of past exhibitions can be found here. Many of the exhibitions included comprehensive catalogues and these can also be purchased from the shop that also sells local arts and crafts and a selection of memorabilia related to Downton Abbey.