The Rookery

After selling the Walton Street campus to Exeter College, the applications for redevelopment at Ruskin’s Old Headington campus were agreed. The Rookery (a Grade II listed building) would be restored and a new adjoining building added, including teaching rooms, offices, a library and café. The foundation stone was laid in 2011 by Ruskin student, Joe Callaghan (pictured), the grandson of former Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan. After completing the large-scale development, the new headquarters were opened by Gordon Marsden MP on 27th October 2012.

Built in the 1600s, many people would reside in The Rookery over the centuries. It was originally owned by Mr William Finch from approximately 1660 and it would stay in the Finch family for over 200 years, until 1863. The Reverend Taylor bought the house in 1863 and began a preparatory school, which he ran until 1883. The school continued within the house until 1897, run by new owner Dr Walter Sumner Gibson. After he moved to London, The Rookery became a private house again.

The building would then be occupied by Mrs Bartholomew Price, widow of The Reverend Bartholomew Price, Master of Pembroke College, who renamed it Charlton House. Later it would be bought by Dr John Massie, Professor at Spring Hill College, Birmingham, who oversaw extensive improvements, including electric lighting. Following the passing of Dr Massie and, later, his wife, the house passed to Colburn the Builders of Swindon, who bought the house for development purposes. Their proposals were rejected by the council and the house and lands were subsequently sold to Sir Michael Sadler, retired Master of University College. He restored its name to The Rookery.

Sir Michael died in 1943 and his son, Thomas, inherited the building. He sold it to Aubrey Gurden, shortly before it was requisitioned by the War Office. The American Army was based there in nissen huts, and later the house would be used as a convalescence home. Aubrey Gurden leased the Rookery to Ruskin College in 1946 and the college would go on to purchase it in 1947.

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