Burford School welcomed VIPs The Duke of Gloucester and the former Prime Minister and MP for Witney of 16 years, David Cameron, to celebrate its 450th Anniversary.

Burford, which was founded in 1571, is one of the oldest schools in the country.

The Duke, the Queen’s cousin, spent some time with students in The Acre – the school’s nod to its past as a school with a farm.

He also offered a few wise words to the students during the Charter Day Service which commemorates the school's founders and the benefaction of merchant Simon Wysdom who gave the land and property that allowed a dedicated building to be used as a school in the heart of the town.

Chair of Oxfordshire County Council, Councillor John Howson, talked about the importance of service in an all-round education through programmes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme which is run at Burford.

Later in the evening, David Cameron spoke at the senior prizegiving.

Mr Cameron regaled the gathered crowd with stories of presidents and politicians before guiding the pupils to use their talents positively and seize the future, said headteacher Matthew Albrighton.

The event, accompanied by the student jazz band, finished with the former PM handing out the special prizes for individual excellence.

In its early days Burford offered an education to the sons of the ordinary men of Burford – the sons of merchants and tradespeople, as well as local dignitaries – something that was highly unusual at the time. The cost of an education was four pence for enrolment and a further eight pence per year to go towards the upkeep of the school and the salary of the masters.

Originally housed in what is now the Boarding House, the school has grown to just over 1,400 students.

Boarding has always been a part of the school with the original students housed with families in the town.

Headteacher Mr Albrighton took over in September after spending eight years as the deputy headteacher at St Edward’s School in Oxford.

The school has staged a number events to celebrate the special anniversary throughout the academic year including an alumni reunion and unveiling of commemorative window.

Mr Albrighton said: “It is an incredible honour to be headteacher at Burford School as we turn 450.

“The long history permeates the school and influences how we educate.

“I have been struck by the ease with which I have been able to settle into the post.

“Burford is a very special community and the welcome has been truly wonderful.”