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The Woodard Corporation (Woodard Schools) is an educational charity founded on the vision of Canon Nathaniel Woodard in the mid nineteenth century as a product of the Oxford Movement and the Catholic revival in the Church of England and a direct consequence of the Founder’s concern to transform his contemporary society through the provision of quality Christian education to the emerging middle classes.

Since that time Woodard Schools has attracted state maintained (Affiliated) and other independent (Associated) schools into its fellowship and, through its sister company, the Woodard Academies Trust, sponsors academies.

Every Woodard school and academy is an integral part of the Woodard family of schools and is expected to be an active partner with other schools within the family. Woodard Schools firmly believes that all young people should be given every opportunity to flourish and to become world class learners, within nurturing and supportive communities that place pastoral care at the heart of all we do. All Woodard schools and academies aim to provide first class education in an actively Christian environment.

Woodard Schools is a unique expression of Church of England schools in the nation. The Founder’s vision of the family of schools as a Society is guarded by its Provosts and its Corporate Fellows and the group is characterised by mutual support, help and encouragement.

Nathaniel Woodard
21 March 1811 – 25 April 1891

The Founder

Nathaniel Woodard, a priest in the Church of England, founded an incredible eleven schools for the middle classes in England during his lifetime. His aim was to provide an education with a fundamental foundation based on “sound principle and sound knowledge, firmly grounded in the Christian faith”.

As a priest in Shoreham he was surrounded by and shocked by social conflict, poverty, deprivation and lack of aspiration in a chaotic society and he set out to try to transform this situation. He firmly believed that education was the only way to aid this transformation and began his lifelong work of founding schools. In 1870 he was made Canon of Manchester Cathedral in recognition of his efforts and received a generous stipend with this position. He used the majority of this towards funding the building of his schools.

Today, Woodard schools form the largest group of independent Church of England schools in England and Wales and, as part of The Woodard Corporation, strive to promote Nathaniel Woodard’s educational principles.

His first school, Lancing College was founded in1848 and his tomb is in the College Chapel.

The Woodard Diptych

Written by Helen Mclldowie-Jenkins

Woodard’s original governing Society was under the patronage of St Mary and St Nicolas (the dedications of the two churches in Shoreham) and so Our Lady and St Nicolas are the principal images. Within the folds of St Mary’s cloak is St Benedict. Nathaniel was born on St Benedict’s Day in the old Sanctorale and so St Benedict stands for the Founder. Around the outside of the icon are the co-patrons of Woodard’s other four regions:

In the Midlands: St John

In the West: St Andrew

In the North: St Aidan

In the East: St Edmund

The Provost's Cross

The Provost’s Cross

The Cross was bought by the first Provost, Edmund Lowe; he decided that it should be the Provost’s Cross and used on ceremonial occasions. It is made of silver and comes from Abyssinia (or Ethiopia). It is probable that it was looted at the battle of Magdala in April 1868, when Sir Robert Napier, soon to be Lord Napier of Magdala, led a force to rescue British prisoners who were being held in the hill-fortress there. The battle brought the British campaign in Abyssinia to a conclusion. 

An inscription on the Cross in the Amharic language reads:

“This is the Cross which the King of Kings, Adyim Sagad, whose baptismal name is Iyasu, gave to Abuna Takla Naimant that it night be for him the salvation of body and soul.”

 (Abuna means Bishop; Iyasu was Emperor of Abyssinia 1682-1706.)

It is said that a former Chaplain of Denstone was moved to offer it back to the Emperor, Haile Selassie, on one of his visits to England; but he was told that Denstone might keep it.