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. 

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.   

Deeds and Words: Helen Pankhurst speaks at Community Viewing of “Suffragette”

We were privileged to have been able to welcome Helen Pankhurst last night to speak as part of our Rumble Museum Suffrage Season. Helen is the great granddaughter of the well-known leader of the British Suffragette Movement Emmeline Pankhurst, and the granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst. She has followed in her family’s footsteps by involving herself in women’s rights and human rights activism, and currently works for CARE International.

Cockroach-handling and Elephant teeth: A Morning at the Natural History Museum

On Friday 30th November, 31 Year Eight Classics and Museum students set out to visit the Oxford's world-renowned Natural History Museum!

The students have all been working on Natural History display boards in advance of the Iris Festival of Natural History on 27th March, and this trip was an opportunity to explore the different ways museums present and display objects and information, as well as to experience the very wide-ranging collections the Museum has to offer. 

"Oxford: the War and the World, 1914 - 9" Exhibition Project

Year Eight History students were privileged to welcome University of Oxford researcher, Hanna Smyth, to introduce the exhibition that she has been helping to create: Oxford: the War and the World, 1914 – 9. This touring exhibition is coming to Cheney School’s Rumble Museum as one of its venues in December. It tells twelve stories of individuals who were involved in World War One in some way, and who have some connection to Oxford. Year Eight students will be involved in creating a guidebook for this exhibition in the coming weeks!

Hanna started by asking everyone to think about what a museum has to think about when it is putting on an exhibition. She pointed out that one of the key things to think about is editing, and how to take the information that you have, and shape it into an interesting exhibition that is appropriate to the audience. She asked the students what the difference between memory and history was, and some said that memory was an opinion and personal and living, whereas history was impartial and collective and continued through time. Hanna asked everyone to be aware, as the group begins to work on our own display boards project, that memories, history and museums are never neutral. They all have a perspective, and they all choose to include some things and overlook others.

Digital Collection Day at the Rumble Museum

This Friday 2nd November, the Rumble Museum held its second digital collection day. The day was held in partnership with the University of Oxford, as part of their national Lest We Forget project. The museum opened its doors to the community, who came with a wide range of items, including stories, photographs, medals, letters and diaries. As well as collecting items from the Wars, we were also collecting stories and items about pioneering women over the past 100 years, as part of our Rumble Suffrage Season.

Technology and the "Diseases of Modern Life" Workshops

We were very privileged to have been able to welcome Professor Sally Shuttleworth and Dr Catherine Charlwood from the University of Oxford Humanities Centre (TORCH) to introduce an exciting project on the theme of 'Diseases of Modern Life' to Year Eight students a few weeks ago, which culminated last night in Year Eight artwork, poetry and other responses being projected at Victorian Night Light as part of the Oxford Christmas Lights Festival.

They started off by looking at a statement made by a Victorian doctor, James Crichton Browne, who observed in 1860: "We live in an age of electricity, of railways, of gas, and of velocity in thought and action.  In the course of one brief month more impressions are conveyed to our brains than reached those of our ancestors in the course of years, and our mentalising machines are called upon for a greater amount of fabric than was required of our grandfathers in the course of a lifetime"

Introducing the Suffragettes: Museum Display Project

This week our Year Eight History students who are involved in the "From Sappho to Suffrage" museum project continued their journey!

They started by presenting some of the wonderful display boards and leaflets they had prepared for their chosen suffragettes. There were some very thoughtful, sensitive and also entertaining ideas and layouts. A range of different suffragettes were chosen. A popular choice was Emily Davison, who famously tried to attach a suffragette's flag to the King's horse and died doing so. We talked about whether she intended to kill herself - her return ticket has suggested it may not have been her intention. Some also looked at people like Annie Kenney, who was a mill worker who campaigned for the right for women to vote.

Anthropology and the Living Museum

We have been running new anthropology workshops at the Rumble Museum to engage students in our collections and in our Living Museum project.

When students arrived at these workshops, there were six different objects on your tables and an “archaeological find sheet”. They all explored the objects and imagined they were discovering them as curious archaeologists, looking for and recording as much information as possible.

A Journey through the Festival of Imagined Worlds

On Friday 9th February, we held our Festival of Imagined Worlds at Cheney School! The festival was a celebration of the magical worlds invented by authors, and an exploration of ancient artefacts and archaeology in connected to our myth and imagined worlds. Hundreds of visitors and Cheney school students were able to explore four different main fictional worlds: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll and Harry Potter. A yellowbrick road connected the different worlds, and in each one, there were a very wide range of stalls, workshops, activities and decorations. Outside, there were beautiful owls and other birds of prey, brought by Millets Farm, as well as Quidditch, which visitors could take part in!

The Story of Cheney School: Display


Cheney School's earliest roots stretch all the way to around 1797, when four Sunday Schools were started in Gloucester Green. One of these gradually grew, and went on to move into a purpose built site on New Inn Hall Street in 1901, becoming Oxford Central Girls School. Eventually, in 1959 it moved to the Cheney Lane site and became Cheney Girls Grammar School. However, this is only half the story! In 1934 John Henry Brookes created a junior day department of the Arts and Technical College, based in Church Street near st Ebbe's. This later become Cheney Technical School and moved to Cheney Lane in 1954. The two schools eventually merged in 1972 to become Cheney Comprehensive School.

Rumble Museum's Green Season Launched!

On Friday 19th January, the Rumble Museum, in partnership with Cheney School's Environmental Impact Team, held a Green Festival. The event involved stalls and workshops aimed at raising awareness of a range of green and sustainable initiatives to the Cheney community. Over the next few weeks and months, the Rumble Museum is working with Cheney School's Environmental Impact Team to explore the vital issues of sustainability and conservation.