Choristerships

When Henry VIII founded Christ Church in 1546 he made provision for the education of a number of boy choristers and a schoolmaster. From these historic roots has grown the current Christ Church Cathedral School, with around 160 pupils aged three to thirteen, housed in its premises built by Dean Liddell (father of Alice, immortalised by Lewis Carroll).

The building, situated in one of Oxford’s most atmospheric streets, is the oldest purpose-built choir house in the country and is a place of great charm.

The boys are dedicated to their lives as choristers and to the transformational experience of singing in the world-famous choir. Their dormitories, named by Tatler as among the country’s best, are reminiscent of traditional country house bedrooms. They have a common room in which they watch films and play board games and cards, and exclusive access to some of the woods and fields of Christ Church Meadows, where they can let off steam, explore and play outdoor games.

Boarding provides the choristers with huge opportunities for friendship and fun. Their shared experiences create a real sense of combined endeavour and contribute to the choir’s extraordinary harmony of sound.

Music permeates life at Christ Church Cathedral School, which now has three choirs: Christ Church Cathedral Choir, that of Worcester College Chapel, and the newly-formed treble line for Pembroke Choir.

Four boys aged eight join the Cathedral Choir each year. They start out as waiting probationers in Form 4 and a year later become full choristers.

Throughout their time as probationers and choristers, they benefit from the Cathedral’s generous bursaries, which cover 60 per cent of fees as well as weekly music lessons for two instruments. Once they are full choristers, they sing three Sunday services, in addition to three Evensongs and one evening Communion service each week, and stay in school throughout Holy Week and up to and including Christmas Day.

All Cathedral choristers gain music awards to their senior schools, including Eton, Harrow and Winchester; Cathedral choristership at Christ Church is an education second to none. Whilst many of today’s best-known musicians started their education as choristers, the discipline and professionalism that are part of a chorister’s upbringing stand them in good stead whatever path they choose in life.

If you know a boy who would like to get an insight into life as a Cathedral chorister at Christ Church, please contact Mrs Clare James on 01865 242561 or email registrar@cccs.org.uk.

Interested in choristerships for girls? Find out all about our girls' choir, Frideswide Voices.