Radley

Abingdon, Oxfordshire
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Overview

Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's account book shows an entry for £672 ( £1,101,000 in 2015) paid to him by Sir William Stonhouse, Bart. for work at Radley in Oxfordshire in 1770-1771.

It is not entirely clear what work Capability Brown undertook at Radley. In April 1770 he received £200 on account and another £200 in December, with a further £200 paid on 3 April 1771. Brown later received a draft on Sir William’s bankers, Messrs Hoare & Co., dated June 9th 1773 for a final payment of £72, which his Accounts Book describes as ‘a balance of the above account and in full [payment] of account demands.’ The account is crossed through in the Accounts Book, signifying that the work was completed, paid for and the contract closed. 

Work by Radley College Archives suggest that a new ha-ha was made to take in the fields to the park and that there was already a pre-existing lake, which now it looks very much like typical Brown commission, with an island, trees hiding the origin (a dammed up small stream) and over-flow with cascade and extra sluices for emergency drainage. More information on Radley College's research can be found here.

After Brown

The estate passed to the Bowyer family in 1795. Radley College was founded in 1847 by William Sewell (1804-79) and Robert Corbet Singleton (1810-81) inspired by the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church to create a new type of school for boys based on Christian principles of brotherliness, reinforced by the beauty of the environment and of the furnishings and objects which surrounded them.

After the school was founded, extensive building work took place. Building work has continued throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The grounds now include a lake, a golf course (first laid out in the 1870s), woodland, and the games pitches which are reputed to be the largest continuous area of mown grass in the south of England. The school maintains extensive Archives.