Bicester County School, The Bicestrian & Kenneth Williams
What a Carry On!
The Bicester County School (latterly known as the Bicester Grammar School) opened in September 1924 in what was the rather grand sounding, if not much to look at, Bicester Hall. The building still stands and is situated on the corner of the junction of Launton Road and London Road. The building is now a retirement housing complex.
Mr J. N. Davies was appointed as the French Master in 1930. His responsibilities included ‘teaching singing and producing dramatic productions’. The staff performed annual plays for public entertainment, a legacy which remains in the town today with strong amateur dramatic productions – Mr Davis stuck with his job for 36 years, he didn’t retire until 1963.
Other longstanding teachers at the school were the Woodwork Master Mr L. E. Windsor, he was appointed in 1934 and retired in 1963, and Miss G. H. Dannatt who joined the staff in 1938 as the History Mistress. She was a well-known local historian and a founder member of the first Bicester History Society. She retired from the school in 1963. It was a school which liked to keep its teachers.
‘The Bicestrian’ School Magazine which was first published within a few years of the County School opening, continued until it was succeeded by a new School magazine ‘Cornbrash’ in 1965.
In 1939 fifty boys from The London School of Photo Engraving were evacuated to Bicester. Their education took place in the Stable Block behind the main school, the building which is now known as the Courtyard Centre, opposite the entrance to the Garth Park. These evacuated boys were billeted with local families, among them was a young lad called Kenneth Williams who would later became the well-known Carry-On actor and comedian. He was billeted with retired vet Mr Chisholm in Sheep Street. Williams often credited the old gentleman with instilling him with a love of poetry and drama.
So there we have it, an education in Bicester, and the influence of Bicester people, are partly responsible for more double entendres in British Film and Television than any other Oxfordshire market town – “Fancy a dawdle up Crumps Butts?” – “Oh Matron!”
Note: The dates and facts in this article are by kind permission from the very excellent and splendid Bicester Local History Society – seek them out HERE and join their gang and you’ll learn so much about this marvellous town.