The First Village College

Founded in 1930, Sawston Village College was the first village college in the country and the vision of Henry Morris, then Chief Education Officer for Cambridgeshire. Morris had been charged with reorganising the county’s education provision and produced his now-famous Memorandum on The Village College in 1924. He believed schools should sit at the heart of their communities and offer learning from cradle to grave. School buildings should act as the ‘silent teacher’, drawing upon the inspiration of ‘philosophers, artists, scientists and scholars, operating in freedom ’.  

‘The village college would change the whole face of the problem of rural education. As the community centre of the neighbourhood it would provide for the whole man, and abolish the duality of education and ordinary life. It would not only be the training ground for the art of living, but the place in which life is lived, the environment of a genuine corporate life.’
Henry Morris, Memorandum, 1924.

Sawston Village College was opened by the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, on 30 October 1930, a mark of the national significance of the first village college.

HRH Prince of Wales (right) at the opening of Sawston Village College


Today, we remain fully committed to the ideals and ambition of Henry Morris.  Our original Grade II listed buildings, based on Cambridge University college courtyards, continue to offer inspiration, and we welcome over 1,500 members of the local community to our site every week for a range of different activities.

The film below was made as part of a Sawston Village College project funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund to explore the life and legacy of Henry Morris.

2020 saw the 90th anniversary of the opening of the College, which we marked with the publication of a commemorative booklet which you can find below in the downloads section.

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