IT remained a secret for almost 75 years – but now a school in Woodstock has glimpsed the past through a forgotten time capsule.

Staff and students at the school had no idea of the haul of hidden mementoes stashed away in its walls.

Builders helping to renovate the Marlborough School discovered the 1939 treasure trove hidden behind a plaque at its front entrance commemorating the school’s opening .

It pays tribute to members of the community, including the then Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, who helped raise money for the Shipton Road building.

Assistant school librarian Joanne Onions said: “It contains all sorts of things from when the school was first built.

“We are very pleased and are planning on doing an open day later this year when we will ask people to bring in their school memories, so it will be great for that as well.”

The collection includes maps, drawings and designs of the school when it was in the planning stages, as well as coins and posters for fundraising events.

Inside the glass time capsule, which had a top made of metal that had partly rusted away, there was also literature from a fundraiser held in August 1938 at Blenheim Palace, hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.

Mrs Onions added: “It’s a piece of Woodstock history, with accounts of how the funding for the school was raised.” Experts from the Oxfordshire Museum, in Woodstock, are currently trying to identify some of the coins, she added.

They are also trying to establish the origin of a small badge, shaped as the Star of David, with “AC Centenary” written on it.

Headteacher Julie Fenn, pictured, said: “We were really pleased to find the time capsule and now we are planning to make our own one as well, with things from this period.”

Builders were working on a new facade for the school’s front entrance when they discovered the cache.

Mrs Fenn said the plaque would now be obscured, but it would bring the design of the building in line with newer ones in the school.

She said: “Unfortunately we could not remove the plaque, but schools must move on.

“We plan to make a new plaque and to also feature a framed picture of the old one in our main reception area.

The school is really pleased with the improvements.

“We are excited about our open day later this year and look forward to looking back at the school’s history.”

  • Do you know what the AC Centenary badge is? Call the Oxford Mail on 01865 425500 or email