The history of Radley in 100 objects – a virtual online museum

Neil MacGregor’s History of the world in 100 objects, based on artefacts in the British Museum and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as a series of 15 minute talks, has captured the imagination of many people.

The history of Radley in 100 objects is based on a similar concept – to explore a facet of the school through a single item. The items chosen vary from ephemeral moments to those objects or buildings that are so iconic that they define Radley as a school and are immediately recognisable to all generations. Just as Radley is a multi-generational school, with family connections stretching from current boys to their younger brothers still at prep school, to fathers, uncles, grandfathers, great grandfathers, so this project is designed to engage present Radleians and ORs to share experiences and memories prompted by one object. Indeed, the very first object selected has just such a connection in a direct line from a schoolboy of the 1890s to his several-times great nephew in 2011.

The project is presented as a weekly blog. Individual objects (wherever possible) will be on display in the Library, but we aim to create a virtual museum which everyone associated with Radley can walk through at anytime and from anywhere in the world. The blog has Twitter and Facebook feeds. Posted comments and discussions will be archived, so that we can build up not a static museum, but an interactive shared experience of being a part of Radley. In this way we hope to create a new type of school history, written by the school itself. Eventually, we will gather all the material together to create a book about Radley’s own history and its place in the world.

Thirty of the objects have been selected from the archive collection. The remaining seventy objects have all been nominated by present members of the school and community. Suggestions have been received from Shells and 6.2s, from PHMs and staff. We would welcome additional suggestions from ORs. The list is presented in no particular order, nor are objects grouped thematically. Instead each entry will be accompanied by tags so that you can explore implicit connections as a tag-cloud builds up over the weeks.

100 objects
Desk lid, 1890s
Cover of The Radleian, 1980
Fives bat, 1890s
Terracotta finial, 1847
Rowing tankard, 1914
Athletics cup, 1858
RH Elwes’ Richards Gold Medal, 1870
Howlers and Overheards, 1880s & 2010s
The bust of Alan Dowding in B Social
The team photo of Mighty Midgets 7 playing on Bigside, 2011
Warden Selwyn’s ruby ring, 1918
The laundry maid’s gophering board, 1850s
Shields in Hall, 1947
Arts and Crafts cross, 1910s
Observatory Clump/New Pavilion, 1880s-2000s
Iron Age finds from Peachcroft Farm, 500BC & 1970s
Eliza Kent’s drawing of Radley Hall, 1830s
Century Clump, 1920s-
William Ranken’s photograph album, 1860s
RAM, 1980s
Lear’s fool, 1962
Musical score for a Dons’ play, 1948
Register entry for Cyril Holland, 1890s-1947
College oak
Photo of Aulularia, 1904
WW2 land use map, 1941
Capability Brown’s landscape, 1780s
WW2 POW letters, 1940s
Records of the Natural History Society, 1880s-1960s
Captain Scott’s letter to A Social, 1910
Stereoscope photo of the First VIII at Henley, 1858
Copies & distinctions
g2 (electronic Grey Book and reporting system) 2010s
A chicken roll, 2000s
The Senior Prefect’s privileges
Science experiment, 1910
A gown
Rowing blade from the 1938 winning crew at Henley, 1938
Elizabethan chalice, 1558 & 1948
JMW Turner’s sketches of Radley Hall, 1770s
The old, new and planned organ
BSA miniature war pattern rifle, 1908-12
The Newdigate Prize poems, 1848, 1940s, 1970s
‘Congratulations’ cards on A Level results day, 2000s
Social Ties & Social Strings
Human skeleton and skulls in the Biology Department
The jackdaw run, 2000s
Family nativity play, 1990s-2011
youtube coverage of 1st XI football LB Cup victory, 2010
The earliest known Radley film, 1925
AE Reeke’s ‘rhythm stick’ performance DVD, 2009
BBC documentary on Radley, 1979
Beagling whip, 1940s-2000s
Real tennis court, 2008
Tiger skull
The boa constrictor, 2011
Slice through a fallen chestnut tree
Orchard House
The Shrew magazine, 1990s
The last remaining garden gnome, 2008
The Haddon Cup
The entry for Y Markovitch on the WW2 memorial
The table in Stone Hall
The bumming machine
Andrew Motion ‘s first published poem, 1970s
The Smale casket
JR Summerly’s PhD thesis, 1995
The pot of snuff on the mantle in Common Room, 1994
The Queen’s loo, 1997
Guy the Gorilla in Queen’s Court, 2000s
A choir robe
A Social trolley
‘The Radley flyer’
A four-way colour biro
A personal statement
A calendar
Boy’s sculpture of the head of Tony Money in the Lakeside Room
The original ‘Glimpses of Radley’ film, 1990s
Jaspar Tristram the earliest novel of Radley life, 1899
Lianne Oakley-Rowland’s costume designs for Sweeney Todd, 2011
A hymn by Warden Ferguson, 1940s-1950s
Watercolours of the Greenland and Iceland expeditions, 1970s
Accounts for St Peter’s, Wapping, the Radley Mission, 1880s-1960s
The address on letters
The new firefly ‘Jim Rickards’
The honours boards
Solar panel on K Social, 2000s
RAF aerial survey photos, 1952
Flags on Bigside rugby posts
The reredos, 1400s & 1847
Silver bell in Common Room
Radley beer, 2011
RA King’s ‘Chemistry Teacher of the Year’ award, 2000s
The electronic scoreboard, 2010s
The ‘Fenny’ hanging in the Library
Senior Prefect’s, Prefects’ and Upper Sixth mortarboards and tassles
Rugby caps
A thank you letter, 2000s
The lighthouse, 1722
The view from Mansion roof
The fleeting moment – when the light spills through the leaves as the madrigals spill from the roof on May morning


  1. What has happened to the Paintings of The Speaker of The Long Parliament and his family……. these were in The Mansion, brfore the Fire. A painting has been loaned under Blair’s years to The Speaker. I call for this to come back to Radley and certainly be amongst the top ten iconic items of Radley College …. anyone having the diverse Radley values and a little knowledge of history will not ubderstand just how important the iconic paintings are…..

  2. These paintings are on long-term loan to Radley from the Lenthall Family of Besselsleigh House. They have no direct link to Radley College or to the Bowyer or Stonhouse families who owned the house and estate from the 1600s until the 1880s. The paintings were not in the Mansion at the time of the fire. They currently hang in the Common Room

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