Headington history: Listed Buildings/Structures

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Headington Manor House, Osler Road

Headington Manor House

List entry for Manor House: 1369430
List entry for boundary wall of Manor House, Osler Road: 1337005

Headington Manor House, February 2005

Stable block, Manor House, February 2005

Headington Manor House (above) and its stable block (left) date from about 1770, but it was only taken over by the Lords of the Manor as their residence in 1801.

It is often confusingly described as Headington House in the first half of the nineteenth century

Sir Banks Jenkinson, the 6th Baron Walcot, built this mansion (designed by Henry Keene) as a private residence in 1773–4. He originated from Charlbury, and was matriculated at the University of Oxford by St John’s College in 1739, aged 17, obtaining his BA at All Souls College in 1745.

Emblem on Manor House


Sir Banks Jenkinson did not marry, and in 1772 was living in Frewin Court. He died in Headington on 22 July 1790, and was buried in Hawkesbury. He was succeeded as Baron Walcot by Charles Jenkinson (the first Earl of Liverpool and first Baron Hawkesbury, 1727–1808), and Headington Manor House was put up for sale.


Right: This Sun Fire Insurance plaque on the front of Headington Manor House (Policy number 371401, granted to Sir Banks Jenkinson) dates from between 1774 and 1790.

During this period the Lords of the Manor of Headington lived at nearby Holton, whose manor they also held. In 1801 the Lord of both Manors, Henry Mayne Whorwood, decided to sell Holton Manor House and move to Headington, buying for his home Jenkinson’s mansion, which then became known as Headington Manor House.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 15 May 1802 refers to a “new intended road near the White House [Britannia]”, and this must be the present Osler Road, formerly known as Manor Road. In Jenkinson’s time, this was known as Sandy Lane, and presumably was not suitable for carriages.

The Whorwoods always seemed to be short of money, and just two years later Henry Mayne Whorwood tried to sell his whole Headington estate including the Manor House, and this advertisement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 30 June 1804:

Manor sale 1804

It appears that the Manor House was not sold at this point, and the following advertisement appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 26 July 1806:

JOJ 26 July 1806

Henry Mayne Horwood died three months later on 24 October 1806, and was succeeded by his younger brother, Thomas Henry Whorwood senior, who on 8 December 1806 took out a mortgage on the Manor House and Holly’s Farm, Headington, with William Fletcher and John Parsons of Oxford, bankers. By his marriage settlement to Mary Grape dated 16 and 17 April 1807 he made an Indenture of Release relating to the Manor House and 321 acres of its land between (1) himself, (2) Mrs Hannah Grape and her daughter Mary; (3) John Paget Hastings; and (4) the Revd Richard Grape and Revd Benjamin Mence of Worcester.

When Thomas Henry Whorwood senior died in 1835, his son sold his effects: the following advertisement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 11 July 1835:

Sale of goods 1835

Thomas Henry Whorwood junior, a Fellow of Magdalen College and Rector of Willoughby, succeeded his father as Lord of the Manor of Headington at the age of 23 in 1835. He did not wish to live at the Manor House, and immediately put up the whole Manor for auction, and he following advertisement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 29 August 1835:

JOJ 29 Aug 1835

The auction took place on 3 August 1836: see extract from first auction catalogue below. The Manor House did not sell, however, and on 5 November 1836 the Manor House was advertised as being available to let:

TO be LET, and entered upon immediately,—The capital MANSION HOUSE at Headington, lately occupied by the Rev. T. H. Whorwood, deceased. The entrance hall, including the staircase, is 26ft. by 10ft.; it leads to a library 24ft. by 18ft.; a drawing room 24ft. by 22ft.; dining room 22ft. by 15ft.; all fitted up well and in good taste; also to 8 spacious and airy bed and dressing rooms, with comfortable and suitable conveniences. The back entrance and staircase lead to the servants apartments, viz. to 5 large bed chambers and a store room; to the housekeeper’s room, 15ft. by 13ft.; to the kitchen, which is very large; servants’ hall, pantries, larders, and other offices, and to unusually good cellerage. In the stable-yard is a double coach-house, stabling for nine horses, and rooms over for servants’ sleeping apartments; saddlery, harness, corn, hay, and straw rooms; also a brew-house, wash-house, dairy, fuel-sheds, and other offices. In the farm-yard, a short distance from the Mansion, are barns, stable, cow-lodge, and other buildings. The gardens and pleasure grounds are in good keeping with the Mansion. The lawn, which is well timbered, comprises about 28 Acres of productive Pasture Land; and a further quantity of excellent convertible Arable Land adjoining may be had if required. The situation is very healthy, and commands a fine view of Oxford and the surrounding country.—Apply to Mr. T. Mallam, auctioneer, High-street, Oxford.

On 3 December 1836 it was again advertised as being available for immediate let, and another auction was advertised on 8 April 1837

Eventually the house was transferred to the ownership of George Alexander Peppercorn, solicitor of St Neots, by an indenture dated 13 July 1838.

Thomas Butler took on the lease by 1840, and his wife Selina moved her ladies’ seminary from Temple Cowley to the Headington Manor House. The 1841 census shows the Butlers living in the house with their own six young children and five female servants, as well as 21 girl boarders aged from 11 to 20 and just one little boy aged 9.

John Matthews, an Oxford solicitor, moved up to Headington Manor House in the 1840s, possibly in late 1841 when someone else moved into his former home at 34 High Street. Certainly he had bought it by by 1846, because when the manorial land was put up for sale a second time in that year he is clearly marked in an auction catalogue as already being its owner. Half of its park was included in this sale, which explains why in the Headington Rate Book of 1850 (where Matthews is listed as occupier as well as owner), the house and immediate grounds covered just 27 acres (compared with 75 acres back in 1836). Their rateable value was £153 3s and the gross estimated rental £165 2s. The 1851 census shows Matthews (48) living in the Manor House with his wife Caroline (45) and their three daughters, plus a governess, two nursemaids, a housemaid, and an under-housemaid. Presumably a servant filled in the form, as the forenames of his daughters (aged 14, 12, and 8) are stated as not known.

John Matthews dropped dead in his office in Cornmarket Street on 25 August 1854 (report on inquest in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 2 September 1854), and in 1857 his widow Caroline put the Manor House up for sale. The following notice of an auction appeared on 25 April 1857:

This capital MANSION, with about 30 Acres of Park-like Pleasure Ground, well timbered with large Ornamental Trees and Plantation; extensive Pleasure and Kitchen Gardens, with Green-house and Conservatory; superior Stabling and Coach-house, with other Offices, situate on a dry soil, in a delightful and commanding situation.

A fuller description appeared on 16 May 1867:

Comprising upwards of 29 Acres, SITUATE WITHIN A SHORT WALK OF OXFORD,
And commanding extensive and picturesque views of that City
and University, and of the surrounding Country
The House comprises entrance hall and principal staircase (about 26 ft. by 10 ft.), which leads to a large dining room and to two elegant drawing rooms, one opening into a conservatory. On the first floor are eight spacious bed chambers and two dressing rooms. The back entrance leads to the servants' apartments, which are very ample, including housekeeper's room, servants' hall, large kitchen, pantries, larders, and other offices on the ground floor, with a back staircase leading to four good servants' bed chambers, and a large store room on the second floor, and with good arched cellarage in the basement.
   The detached offices consist of capital stabling for seven horses, spacious coach-house, lofts, wash-house, laundry, gardener's cottage, green-house, entrance lodge, cow hovel, and poultry-house.
   The Buildings, which are substantial and in good repair, are surrounded by tastefully-disposed pleasure gardens and lawns, and ornamental timber.
   The Kitchen Garden is large, and surrounded by a high wall, planted with choice fruit trees.
   The Land, which surrounds the house and gardens, is Pasture (except about an acre and a half), and is ornamented with large elms, and belted on two sides, and part of the third side, by Plantations.
   This Property is Freehold, Tithe-free, and Land Tax redeemed — the situation most salubrious — the views picturesque and extensive — and the soil dry, forming altogether one of the most desirable Residences in the neighbourhood.

Mrs Matthews sold the Manor House for £4,900 to Emilius Watson-Taylor (b. 1819) of Thurston Hall, Northants, a fund-holder and farmer of 117 acres, who had moved in with his older unmarried sister, Isabella by 1858.

Emilius died in Headington at the age of 59 near the beginning of 1879, and at the time of the 1881 census his sister Miss Isabella Watson-Taylor lived alone in the house with seven servants: a butler, cook. lady’s maid, housemaid, kitchen maid, and two stable boys. By 1891 she had dispensed with the butler and one of the stable boys, and in 1892 she died. The Manor House was then auctioned by Hampton & Sons in London on 27 May 1895: see extract from second auction catalogue below.

Colonel James Hoole (1850–1917) bought the house in 1895, and was the last private individual to live there. (In 1911 he also bought the manorial rights and Manor Farm from William Peppercorn’s executors, so he was also the last Lord of the Manor). He himself was away from home at the time of the 1901 census (probably fighting in the Boer War, for which he received the CMG); but his wife Mary Violet Hoole was at the Manor House with their five children (who ranged in age from 11 months to 17 years) and seven indoor servants (in addition to their lodge-keeper, who lived in Manor Lodge, and their coachman, who lived in Manor Cottage).

The Colonel allowed his parkland to be used for Headington events, such as the annual village fete and flower show, and Headington’s football club played for a short time on part of the “Manor Ground” as early as 1898. No doubt the Manor House also hosted many good private parties: the book Oxfordshire Leaders states that Colonel Hoole saw “a great deal of Oxfordshire social life”.

By 1911 James Hoole (61) and his wife Mary (50) were living at the Manor House with their daughter Margaret Alice Mary (20) and five servants. Their butler Arthur Markham (33) lived with his wife Rhoda in the lodge.

Colonel Hoole died in 1917, and on 30 May 1919 his executors sold the Manor House and its remaining grounds to the President and Governors of the Radcliffe Infirmary for £16,000.

Manor in 1919Plan dated 30 May 1919 from Abstract of Title in possession of Mr A. Turton
showing in red the land sold to the Radcliffe Infirmary. Marston Road is roughly to the west,
Dunstan Road to the north, Osler Road to the east, and Cuckoo Lane to the south

In May 1925 the Governors began to sell portions of the estate for building sites, and a further large portion was sold in the early 1930s The present site of the John Radcliffe Hospital is only about half the size of the estate purchased in 1919.

Dorsetshire Regiment camp in 1927The Dorsetshire Regiment on manoeuvres in 1927 in the Manor
Park Camp (now the grounds of the John Radcliffe Hospital)

It was only in the 1970s that the first block of the present John Radcliffe Hospital was built on this land, dwarfing the old Manor House, which was first used as a training school for nurses and later as offices. In 2007 the Radcliffe Infirmary completed its move to the old Manor, and the Oxford Children’s Hospital opened in its grounds.

Extract from Auction Catalogue, 2 August 1836

The auction was conducted by Mr Mallam at the Angel Inn in Oxford’s High Street. The catalogue is entitled:

Particulars and Conditions
For the Sale of the
Freehold, tithe Free, and redeemed from Land Tax,
A very valuable and important property,
Situate within a short walk of the City and University of OXFORD,
comprehending The Manor with its Rights, Fines, Heriots, Quit Rents, &c.
Payable in respect of numerous Estates, held by copy of Court Roll;
A spacious, well arranged, and substantial MANOR HOUSE,
offices admirably adapted to it, delightful pleasure grounds and garden,
A Park belted with thriving Plantations,
of old pasture and arable land,
A large and highly productive orchard,
Many allotments of first rate ACCOMMODATION LAND,
Several plots of garden ground & building sites,
commanding the most extensive and picturesque views
of the surrounding Country and overlooking the City of Oxford

The land and property was divided up into 30 lots, totalling over 345 acres:

  • Lot 1 is the Manor House and its immediate land: the details are reproduced in full below
  • Lot 2 was the 73 acres of Holley’s Farm (to the north-east of the Manor House grounds and to the south of Dunstan Road)
  • Lot 3 was the 57 acres of Little Tile House Farm (to the north-west of the northern end of Pullen’s Lane)
  • Lot 4 was the 6 acres of Holley’s Orchard (situated to the west of the sharp bend of Osler Road)
  • Lot 5 was part of Brockless Field (adjoining Pullen’s Lane, to the north-west)
  • Lot 6 was part of Hopcroft Field and part of Brockless Field (adjoining Pullen’s Lane, to the north-east)
  • Lot 7 was part of Brockless Field and part of Bushey Piece (bounded on the south by Cuckoo Lane and the east by the Boundary Brook)
  • Lots 8 to 12 comprised Broadway Pond Close and Winding Furlong (viz. all the land fronting the London Road from the present Osler Road to Headley Way)
  • Lot 13 comprised part of Bushy Piece (viz. the plot now on the south-western corner of Headley Way)
  • Lots 14 to 17 comprised part of Brockless Field (viz. the land fronting the London Road westwards from Lot 13 to Pullens Lane)
  • Lot 18 was a “very valuable Plot of Garden ground, with a newly erected Cottage or Dwelling House upon it” (namely the site of Davenport House at the eastern junction of Pullens Lane and London Road)
  • Lots 19 to 30 were all part of Brockless Field (Lots 19 to 23 adjoined Pullens Lane on the south-west side, and Lots 24 to 30 were wedged in by Pullens Lane to the west and Cuckoo Lane to the south)

Lot 1 (75 acres)

The Manor of Headington, with Manorial Rights, Fines, Heriots, Quit-Rents, &c. payable in respect of numerous estates held by copy of Court Roll, yielding a good income to the Lord of the Manor, and considerable fees to his Steward; a spacious well arranged and substantial Mansion House, surrounded by fine and stately Timber, standing in a Park through which it has two drives from the Oxford and London road. The domestic arrangements are good, and the rooms well proportioned, as will be evident from the following detail: The entrance hall, including the staircase, is 26ft by 10ft; it leads to a library 24ft by 18ft, drawing room 24ft by 22ft, dining room 22ft by 15ft, all fitted up well and in good taste; also to nine spacious and airy family bed and dressing rooms, with comfortable and suitable conveniences. The back entrance and staircase lead to the servants’ apartments, viz. to five large bed chambers and a store room, to the housekeeper’s room 15ft by 13ft surrounded by presses, closets, and cupboards of an expensive character; to the kitchen, which is very large, servants’ hall, pantries, larders, and other offices, and to unusually good cellarage. In the stable yard is a double coach house, stabling for nine horses, and rooms over for servants’ sleeping apartments, saddlery, harness, corn, hay, and straw; also a brew-house, wash-house, dairy, fuel sheds, and other offices. In the farm yard, which is a short distance from the mansion, are barns, stable, cow lodge, and other buildings ample for the occupation of the land. The gardens and pleasure grounds are in good keeping with the size and site of the mansion.

This lot is sold with a road from the Oxford and London road (in addition to those now belonging to it) by Joe Pullen’s tree to the north west corner of the plantation [Cuckoo Lane from Pullens Lane to the present Headley Way] … which road is to be made and maintained at the expense of the purchaser of this lot, subject to the rights of way now enjoyed by the public.

Extract from auction catalogue, 27 May 1895

This catalogue includes a photograph showing the Manor House covered with wisteria. It gives a good description of the house, with the measurements of every room:

  • Downstairs there was a large hall, opening into a library, drawing room, and dining room (the last leading into a heated conservatory), plus lobby and W.C.
  • On the first floor (reached by two staircases) were seven best bedrooms, two dressing rooms, a large linen room, and a lobby and W.C.
  • On the second floor were three servants’ bed rooms, a box room, and a lumber room which could be used as a bedroom.
  • The “domestic offices”, including butler’s pantry, larder, store room, lamp room, kitchen, scullery etc., were on the ground floor, but “well shut off”, and there was good cellarage in the basement. The water supply was from deep wells on the property, but there was also rainwater collected in an underground tank.
  • Outside there was stabling for twelve horses, a coach house for three carriages, and a wash house with a copper and a large loft and groom’s room upstairs.
  • The house was surrounded by pleasure grounds including an ornamental lawn and tennis court, a walled kitchen garden, and a “prolific orchard” of 7 acres containing 400 assorted fruit trees, and park land with elms and beeches. In all it comprised over 36 acres. It included a four-room entrance lodge in Osler Road.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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