The Rye Heritage

Rye St Antony has a rich and interesting history and its wonderful legacy lives on through all our pupils, past pupils and staff.

The school was founded by Oxford teachers, Elizabeth Rendall and Ivy King in 1930. They were inspired to open a school after a visit to St Anthony’s of Padua Church in Rye, East Sussex and it was from this that the school took its name.

After spending 9 years in central Oxford, the school moved to its current 12-acre site just after the outbreak of World War II. Expansion began after the war ended and The Croft building, built by architect Alfred Waterhouse who also designed the Natural History Museum, was also purchased.

Ever since then, the school has flourished – keeping its tradition of a lay Catholic establishment which puts the individuality of its pupils at the forefront of all that it does.

Over the years, the school has taken on a steady building and improvement programme to create first-class education facilities that complement the Victorian buildings and the idyllic gardens and woodlands that are so much part of Rye’s unique character.

Zesty Christmas tradition dates back over 80 years

Rye St Antony is famous for its Christmas ‘Tangerine Party’ tradition when the whole school, including staff and parents gather in the Rendall Hall for a raucous celebration. This tradition dates back to World War II when pupils knitted clothes for soldiers. In return, the grateful soldiers sent back fruit including tangerines while rationing was introduced, a welcome and rare treat for pupils. Now, following very lively renditions of well-known Christmas songs, each pupil is given a tangerine and a huge Christmas cake is shared out among the congregation. The tradition endures, much to the delight of pupils, staff and parents alike, apart perhaps from the lucky male teachers chosen to stand up and sing ‘We Three Kings.’


Elizabeth Rendall and Ivy King open a brand new school for Oxford – Rye St Antony is born


The school moves to its current site in Pullen’s Lane to accommodate the growing pupil roll


An opportunity arises to buy The Croft, a Victorian building next door designed by architect Alfred Waterhouse, who also built the Natural History Museum and Manchester Town Hall. The site is now two large Victorian houses and 12 acres of garden and woodland


The whole school watches The Queen’s coronation on its first television set


The school becomes an educational trust with a governing body


The swimming pool is built, becoming a firm feature for both competitive swimming, sponsored events and families in the summer holidays


Rye St Antony celebrates its Golden Jubilee


The high-specification Performing Arts centre opens


Morton Sports Hall is completed


Both the self-contained Sixth Form Centre and the Cottage Boarding House are redeveloped


A new reception area, state of the art ICT Suite and Food & Nutrition centre is built at a cost of £2m

Whole School Open Morning

Saturday 15 May 2021

Individual Tours by Appointment

Our Open Morning will give you the opportunity to tour the school site and see our excellent facilities.

We look forward to meeting you.