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5 October 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of the formal unification

of the two historic Schools of Oundle – Oundle School and Laxton School.

Until then there were two distinct entities, both charities registered under the Charities Acts.

The first was ‘The Corporation of Oundle School (Charity)’ (Oundle School), the charity that owned and ran Oundle School and continues to do so.

The second was ‘The Free Grammar School of Sir William Laxton’ (Laxton School), which owned

the historic endowments left by Sir William Laxton in 1556, most notably the Laxton School building.

After 5 October 2010 there was only one. By then the activities of the Schools had been fully integrated and,

with the consent of the Charity Commission, all of the assets of Laxton School had been transferred to Oundle School.

On that day the name of Laxton School was removed from the Register of Charities and it ceased to exist as a legal entity.

From a practical point of view, in the day-to-day running of the Schools, unification was more a process rather than a single event – a long process that can be traced back to the early 1970s.

Later on, this article sets out the milestones but, as the full significance of unification can only properly

be appreciated in the context ORIGINS The origins of Oundle School and Laxton School lie in an earlier time of disease – repeated visitations of bubonic plague

in the 14th Century including the Black Death of 1349 which are together reckoned to have caused the death of at least half of the population of England.

The intense suffering led to a strong religious revival expressed in the building of many churches, and to the establishment of many religious gilds (original spelling, used throughout),

co-operative ventures licensed by the Crown for establishing chantries where masses would be held and prayers given

by a chantry priest for the souls of the founders and ‘brethren and sisters’ of the gild after death. The priest was also a teacher with particular responsibility for teaching Latin.

One such gild, ‘the Gild or Fraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ (‘the Oundle Gild’) was formed in Oundle in around 1494 by Dame Joan Wyatt, the widow of Robert Wyatt, a local merchant.

The chantry chapel of the Oundle Gild was the chapel then and now on the south side of the chancel in the Oundle Parish Church, the Church of St Peter.

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