Marston history: Miscellaneous

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The development of New Marston, Oxford

New MarstonNew Marston in c.1905, looking north. The large detached house in the centre left was demolished
to make way for the car park of the Somerset House pub (which was rebuilt in the 1930s)

As the seventeenth-century boundary stone at the foot of Cuckoo Lane marking the end of the “Hedington Way” shows, everything on the eastern side of the road that leads from St Clement's to Old Marston was originally in the parish of St Andrew in Headington. This road is now called the Marston Road, but previously it was known as the Elsfield Road or Main Road.

Hence in censuses the part of New Marston on the east side of the Marston Road is listed under Old Headington, and the part on the west side under Marston, and similarly people on the east side were in St Andrew's parish, and those on the west side in St Nicholas's parish. The postal address of houses to the east (including those in William Street) was, however, New Marston, and in directories it is listed under that subheading under Marston.

Until the 1870s, the only homes in the present New Marston were the Tilehurst Cottages near the brickworks.

William Street: The first road of New Marston (1870s)

William Street in 1876

This extract from the 1876 map of Headington (right) shows the present William Street as a stub, with one house on the north side.

This new road was given its current name by 1878, despite the fact that there was already a William Street in both New Headington (now Wilberforce Street) and in St Clement's (now Tyndale Road). By the time of the 1881 census there were two houses in William Street, one of them was Azurea (now No. 30) on the south side, and the other was presumably the one shown on this 1876 map.

The extract below from the 1898 map of Headington shows about fifteen houses in William Street. The track and footpath (F.P.) leading to Pullen's Lane at the top of the Street would have been the route householders must have taken to get to their parish church in Old Headington:

William Street in 1898

By 1881 Ferry Road and Edgeway Road (the latter originally called Hedgeway Road) were also being developed, and as these were on the west side of the Marston Road, they were in the parish of St Nicholas in Old Marston rather than being considered part of Old Headington. The Somerset House beerhouse opened in 1880.

This full 1898 map shows the whole New Marston area, which now included (in addition to William Street show above and the old Tileworth Cottages near the brick works), eight other houses on both sides of the Marston Road nearby, the Somerset House pub, five houses on Edgeway Road, and about nine houses on Ferry Road.

Manhole cover in William Street

Right: This manhole cover in William Street is inscribed:


It dates from around 1900 and is very small (probably only large enough for a man's arm).

Ferry Road chapel


Right: From 1888 to 1911 two cottages were used as a mission chapel for the people living in the district of New Marston.

In 1911 St Nicholas Mission Chapel for New Marston (right) was consecrated in Ferry Road. It was built by a man called Bray at a cost of £25212.0.

It closed in 1955 when the present St Michael & All Angels Church opened on the other side of the Marston Road.

After various commercial uses the mission chapel was reconsecrated as St Nicholas the Wonderworker Russian Orthodox Church on 9 October 2010.

At the time of the 1911 census the part of New Marston on the east side of the London Road was still recorded in the census book for Old Headington, but soon after this directories started listing it under the heading of Marston. Kelly's Directory for 1914/15 has 50 entries for heads of households living privately in New Marston and 21 for those running a business from their home.

The Boy Scouts' Hall on the corner of William Street was built in 1913 by Emily Lydia Peto: she was the daughter of Sir Samuel Morton Peto, and served as Scout Leader there for many years.

Scout hut

The text over the door facing the Marston Road reads “ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN TO DO HIS DUTY”. The following year the young men of New Marston started to volunteer to fight in the First World War, and 26 of them died (a huge number given how few houses there then were). The New Marston War Memorial was erected on the Headington side of the Marston Road and unveiled on 21 December 1919 by Mrs G. Herbert Morrell of Headington Hill Hall. (The building to the north was the Congregational Hall.)

Until 1927 the children of New Marston attended the National School near the church in Old Marston village, but in that year New Marston Church of England School opened temporarily in the Scout Hall, and in 1928 it moved into a permanent building on land presented by Mrs G. H. Morrell (photograph in Oxford Journal Illustrated of 30 May 1928 of the opening ceremony).

The Church of St Michael and All Angels opened as a chapel of ease to St Andrew's Church in Headington in 1955, becoming the centre of a new parish taken from parts of Old Marston, Headington, and St Clements. In the same year New Marston Primary School changed its name to St Michael's School.

In 1929 New Marston became part of the city of Oxford. The Marston Road, which had hitherto been a country lane, was widened in 1937 to include a cycle track each side.

Milham Ford Girls' School was opened on 8 March 1939 by HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone.

Development of New Marston shown in the early censuses:
  • 1841
    Old Headington census
    : There were just eight cottages adjoining the brick kilns on the east side of Marston Road (immediately north of Jack Straw's Lane and known as Tileworth Cottages). Six of these were occupied by agricultural labourers (including a woman, Mary Phillips), one by a shoemaker, and one was unoccupied. These people would probably have used Cuckoo Lane to reach their parish church.
  • 1851
    Old Headington census
    : The same eight cottages, described in the Old Headington census as “all the Houses in Marston Lane called Mr Plowman’s Brick Yard”.
  • 1861
    Old Headington census
    : The same eight cottages, all described as “Tilehurst”, but for the first time a cottage on the other side of Marston Lane, at King's Mill, is recorded.
  • 1871
    Old Headington census
    : The same eight cottages, plus the cottage at King's Mill
  • 1881
    Old Headington census (east side of Marston Road): Four cottages (of which two are definitely Tileworth Cottages) plus two grander households with servants, probably in William Street)

    This year for the first time some houses on the west side of Marston Road were recorded in the Old Marston census. Described as being on “Marston Garden”, there were 13 houses in Edgeway Road, eight in Ferry Road (named Ferry Street), plus the Somerset public house, and five other houses on the Marston Road in that area
Somerset House pub on Marston Road (called Main Road until 1938)

Somerset House pub

The Somerset House pub opened as a beerhouse on the Marston Road in 1880. On 3 September 1881 the refusal of a licence to allow this beerhouse to become a full public house was reported at length in Jackson's Oxford Journal, and the very long article includes a useful description of New Marston at the time:

Mr. Cripps made an application on behalf of William Simmons, who had given notice of his intention to apply for a full licence for a house situate in the Marston-road, known as Somerset House in the parish of Marston. He should put in plans of the premises showing that they provided ample accommodation, and were of sufficient value. He was aware there had been an indisposition on the part of the Magistrates to increase the number of public-houses, but the circumstances of this case, he hoped to satisfy them, were of an exceptional nature. Just upon the outskirts of Oxford the Magistrates were aware that a number of houses had been built on an estate of eight acres of land on the Marston-road, which had been sold in allotment. Upwards of 40 or 50 houses had been built upon these allotments, and they were extending in number. Besides these here were a number of garden allotments, and in the heat of summer the owners required refreshments, but there was no public house at the present moment where they could go and have a glass of beer and bread and cheese, and in case of sudden illness there was no place where they could get a little brandy. On these grounds, notwithstanding that indisposition, he asked the Magistrates to entertain this case.

Some early landlords:

  • 1880: Willilam Simmons
  • 1887: William Harris
  • 1891: Richard Carmichael
  • 1899: George Evans
  • 1914–1940: Mrs Elizabeth Jane Evans
  • 1941: Henry Evans

The original pub was pulled down in the 1930s and the present one was built on the site.

Azurea Villa (now 50 William Street)

Azurea Villa in 2022

This villa (shown right in 2022) has a very helpful plaque next to the first-floor window giving its name and date of construction (1877):

Azurea Villa inscription

It was one of the only two houses in William Street listed in the 1881 census, when it appears to have been occupied by Matthew Wise Phipps, who was living on private means, and his wife and four daughters, two of whom were born in Switzerland: his son Henry Hostache Phipps was also being educated there.

Some of the later occupants listed in Kelly's Directory as living at Azurea, 30 William Street:

  • 1930–1935: George Harris (who was at 12 William Street in 1927: was the street renumbered?)
  • 1936–1940: Sidney Peach
  • 1941–1952: John George Hind
  • 1954–1976: Stanley A. Milton

New Marston in the censuses

© Stephanie Jenkins

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