History of Saint Ebbe's
The History of St Ebbe’s Primary School
St Ebbe’s Primary School moved to Whitehouse Road in 1975.
The original St Ebbe’s school was an Anglican girls’ school built in 1856 in Paradise Square (just to the west of where the Westgate shopping centre now is). With the development of the original Westgate shopping centre, much of St Ebbe’s was cleared and the school was moved across the river into Grandpont (and hence out of the parish of St Ebbe’s, though it retained the name). The original school building on Paradise Square was later the home of the Caribbean Club but has now been demolished.
For old photographs of St Ebbe’s School see Carole Newbigging, The Changing Faces of South Oxford and South Hinksey, Book 3, p.73 (Robert Boyd Publications, 2003).
Who was St Ebbe?
St Ebbe is depicted in ancient glass in a window on the south side of the Church. She was the daughter of Aethelfrith, king of Northumbria, and sister of the Northumbrian kings, Oswald and Oswy. Her father was killed in battle in 617, and she and her brothers lived in exile. She became a nun through St Finan of Lindisfarne and founded a religious house at Ebchester on the Derwent. The neighbouring promontory, St Abb’s Head, is named after her. She became Abbess of Coldingham in Berwickshire and died in 683.
There is no certainty how this church came to be named after her. Some think it is because of St Oswald’s connection with Gloucester in the 10th century. Others consider it possible that St Ebbe accompanied her brother when he came south in 635 to attend the baptism of Cynegils, King of Wessex, in the Thames at Dorchester by St Berinus. She would have crossed the Thames at Oxford. It is possible that Epsom, also named after her, was founded as a result of that journey as well.