Science Fiction Artefacts at the Weston Library

On Friday 18th October, 19 students from Year Seven and Eight took part in the Rumble Museum's second Future Season event.
The group arrived at the Weston Library at 1.30pm and were greeted by Rosie Sharkey and Rodger Caseby from the Bodleian Library. They were shown upstairs to the beautiful Bahari conference room where they started to think about how to start writing a story set in a futuristic world.

Seizing the Day in Pompeii: Dr Paul Roberts at Museum Council Launch

This week, we were very excited to launch our first ever Rumble Museum Council. A group of 15 students from Years Eight, Nine and Ten, met for a breakfast meeting to begin their journey as students closely connected with the direction and development of the museum at Cheney School.

The Museum Council will take part in a number of exciting projects, and students will get special access to behind-the-scenes museum staff and exhibitions to help gain an understanding of how museums operate. Our first project is with the Ashmolean and their “Last Supper in Pompeii” Exhibition, so we were especially delighted to welcome Dr Paul Roberts, the curator of the exhibition, to talk to the group about the exhibition and how it was designed.

Pop-up Museum Cafe at St Alban's Church

We were delighted this summer to trial a new kind of project: we ran an open morning museum café at St Alban's Church every morning from 9 until 12 on weekdays from 29th July to 9th August.

The purpose of the museum café was for the public to visit and explore the beautiful and atmospheric building of St Alban's Church, including its art, architecture and history, as well as to explore some Roman artefacts. We designed educational trails and colouring activities for children, and ran a cafe with drinks and brownies. We brought some Roman original and replica artefacts from the Rumble Museum at Cheney, including replica shield, helmet, strigil, oil lamp, wax tablet, brooch, and original, local pieces of pottery excavated from Headington and Marston, as well as an original quern stone and hand stone.

Imagined Planets Day with Chris Beckett

From Plato and Lucian to modern day, we will be exploring science fiction over the next few months at our classics centre and Rumble Museum. To kick off our season of exploration, on Wednesday 17th July, 22 Year Sevens took part in our Imagined Planets Day.

Students arrived to find four different group tables, each one named after a different science fiction author, with a booklet outlining the task for the day, and some of the materials displayed on the tables.

Arthur C Clarke-award winning author, Chris Beckett, began the day with a detailed and fascinating introduction to his novel Dark Eden, which is set on a sunless planet on which a small group of humans crash landed many years ago. He spoke about how he went about creating the planet - how the first idea came from the screen of his Amstrad computer which had a black screen with bright green lettering. This gave him the idea of a planet where the light came from the living things on it rather than the sun.

Back to School: Alumni Story and Artefact Collection Afternoon

On Friday 28th June, the Rumble Museum was delighted to welcome back alumni from Cheney Technical and Cheney Girls School, as well as some alumni from later eras, to share their stories and objects from their time here. Cheney School's site was once two separate schools which arrived here in the 1950s. Cheney Technical School came here in 1954 from St Ebbe's area of town, and was originally founded by John Brookes in 1934. It occupied the area of school now called W block after Arnold Wainwright, the head teacher who oversaw the move. Cheney Girls School started life as a Sunday School in 1797 and then became Oxford Central Girls School, and moved to New Inn Hall Street. It moved to Cheney's site in 1959, and occupied the area called C Block, named after Louisa Chadwick, a much-loved head teacher of the Oxford Central Girls School.

Trip to the Oxford Brookes University Archives

On Monday 3rd June, a group of Year Eight history students had the opportunity to visit the Oxford Brookes University Archive, as part of a Rumble Museum project exploring the connections between John Brookes, Oxford Brookes University and Cheney School, culminating in a Story and Artefact Collection afternoon for alumni students and staff on 28th June. The students were met by archivist Eleanor Possart, who introduced the archives, explaining what sort of things they collected, and how the rooms were specially controlled in terms of their temperature and other aspects to preserve the valuable material. 
She had laid out a selection of material from five different collections: food and drink, Dorset House, the Booker Prize, children's literature, and Cheney Technical School, founded by John Brookes, and one of the two schools which merged to become Cheney School in 1972. Students were able to explore the material in groups, and think about some key questions. The Booker Prize collection showed how much controversy emanated from judge's decisions, with press articles and a strongly worded letter written by Joanna Lumley on the panel for one of the years. It was interesting to see the contrast between the judges' statements and reporting in the press.

From Dinosaurs to Dragonflies: the Iris Festival of Natural History

On Wednesday 27th March, we held our long-awaited Iris Festival of Natural History, Classics, Art & More at Cheney. For a few hours, Cheney School’s site was entirely transformed with the arrival of animatronic dinosaurs, tarantulas, ball pits, sundials, birds of prey, a storytelling tent, and many other unexpected and thrilling exhibits.


The Festival was a celebration of the Rumble Museum at Cheney, the first museum in a state school, and its journey towards Arts Council Accreditation, and over fifty different organisations travelled from near and far to run a very wide range of exciting stalls, activities, exhibitions and shows. The event was split into five main discovery zones. In the Science and Natural History zone, Cheney students and visitors explored spiders webs, fossils, botany and dragonflies, brought by the Cole Museum, Brookes Botanical Society, Natural History Museum in Oxford, University of Oxford Department of Zoology, the British Dragonfly Society and the Dinosaur Society. The Travelling Natural History Museum brought a range of models, and also two huge animatronic dinosaurs, who thrilled visitors with a show every half an hour! Millets Falconry brought beautiful owls which attracted a constant crowd of admirers.

Hospital School Museum Display Project

The Rumble Museum at Cheney is delighted to be supporting the Oxfordshire Hospital School as it embarks upon an exciting museum project over the next few months. The Rumble Museum will work with the team at the Hospital School as it develops in-house displays of museum objects, and projects connected to these displays.  

Catherine Costello from the Hospital School said: "It was a real inspiration to be able to visit Cheney School last week to see the ways in which their wonderful museum exhibitions have enriched pupils understanding of history and the wider curriculum across the school. We are thrilled to be able to benefit from Lorna's extensive experience in the coming weeks as we begin to work on our new initiative."

The Oxfordshire Hospital School (OHS) is an Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) maintained school based across a number of settings throughout the county of Oxfordshire. The school serves children & young people aged 4-19 who are unable to attend their home school due to a wide range of medical and mental health needs. 

The Rumble Museum at Cheney is a unique partnership between an educational charity and a school. The Iris Project, a charity which promotes learning about the ancient world, is working with Cheney School to grow a museum within a school. We are working within the Arts Council Museum Accreditation Scheme.   

An Evening of Stargazing

On Monday 11th February, the Rumble Museum at Cheney held its first ever Stargazing Event. The evening started at 5pm when around 70 visitors followed a chalk star and planet trail through the school site to L1. Professor Allan Chapman, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and author of many History of Science books, delivered an animated and highly engaging talk on the planets of the solar system, explaining the fascinating and peculiar elements of their atmospheres, for example the acidic environment of Venus and the composition of Saturn's rings. He also spoke of how his wonder for the planets and stars started at a very early age where he made his own telescope. 

Roman Kiln from Headington

We have been very fortunate to have been donated some large pieces of a Roman Kiln which was excavated from the Churchill Hospital in Oxford in 1972. For many years, the Kiln has been housed at the Museum of Oxford in the Town Hall.

The Museum of Oxford are now developing their site to create new displays, and decided to break the kiln into smaller pieces, some of which they have kept. We were privileged and honoured to receive two large pieces of the kiln wall (pictured on the left) and a much larger piece containing some of the original corbelling.

Over the next few months, we will be working with students to create a new display of these pieces, connecting them with the extensive history of the Romans in Headington.

Watch this space for further updates!


Women's Suffrage Celebration Day

On Friday 14th December, the Rumble Museum at Cheney held an all day celebration of 100 years since a woman was first able to vote in a general election in Britain.This event was a culmination of our Rumble Suffrage Season, during which we have run a range of different talks, workshops and projects exploring the votes for women movement.
The day was opened by Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East and Philippa Bilton, relative of Emily Wilding Davison, who spoke to an audience of around 250 mostly sixth form students. Anneliese spoke about the challenges facing women in politics today, and about ways to encourage more women to stand for parliament. She also spoke about other under-represented groups, and her own experiences of gender stereotyping.  Philippa's talk explored Emily Wilding Davison's life, and her many forms of direct action, including hiding in a broom cupboard in the House of Commons during the 1911 census, and the famous incident at the Epsom Derby in 1913 in which she lost her life. She also spoke about the brutality of force-feeding in prison, which Emily underwent 49 times. After their talks, the audience put a number of thoughtful and challenging questions to the speakers, including whether it was essential for it to be a woman to represent women, and what role education should play in encouraging young women to take part in public life.