Headington history: Miscellaneous

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Risinghurst estate, Headington

Cottage on Kiln LaneA surviving old cottage at 58 Kiln Lane, opposite the present Grovelands Road

The name Risinghurst did not exist before the the mid-1930s when a new estate was built on farmland straddling the village of Headington Quarry and the parish of Forest Hill.

If you enlarge the maps below showing the Risinghurst area in 1900 side-by-side with a recent map, you will see that in the early twentieth century there were very few houses here. There were two significant buildings: a large house called Shotover Lodge (later renamed Forest Lodge: picture) that stood on the London Road and the farmhouse belonging to Magdalen Farm on the north side of Kiln Lane. On the other side of Kiln Lane was a brick & tile works, with a few cottages.

Map of the Risinghurst area in 1900, side-by-side with a recent aerial view
(Close pop-up box in front, and drag map to what you want to see: both will move)

On 17 April 1883 much of the land of the present Risinghurst had been taken into the new civil parish of Forest Hill with Shotover. This included outlying parts of Headington Quarry such as Shotover Hill Place which were formerly ex-parochial, and these were henceforth in the ecclesiastical parish of Headington Quarry but Forest Hill civil parish. While most Forest Hill children attended school at Stanton St John or Wheatley, the children from this area would have gone to Headington Quarry National School.

Shotover Lodge was the grandest house in the area, standing in isolation on the London Road. See its position on map: Nielsen's (whose buildings have now been converted into the flats of Thornhill Park) was later built in its 22½ acre grounds. Shotover Lodge is dealt with more thoroughly here under Shotover Hill Place.

The Kilns was built in 1922 on the site of the former brickworks, and the lake in its eight-acre garden was a flooded claypit. Between 1926 and 1928 Joseph Thorne is listed in directories as the occupant of The Kilns. When In 1930 C.S. Lewis bought this house jointly with his brother Warnie and Mrs Janie Moore, it was then in the middle of the country. Lewis himself said of the house, “I never hoped for the like”, and his brother described it thus:

“The house … stands at the entrance to its own grounds at the northern foot of Shotover at the end of a narrow lane, which in turn opens off a very bad and little used road [now Kiln Lane], giving as great privacy as can reasonably be looked for near a large town.”

In 1931 the Shotover Arms pub, along with an adjoining filling station, opened to the east of Green Road (now McDonald's). It is a large Tudoresque-style building designed by Ernest Kibble.


The advertisement below for an auction to be held at the Shotover Arms on 2 February 1933 included five acres of wooded building land at Kiln Lane (Road) that was “ripe for immediate development”:

Auction notice of 1933

In 1935 (just five years after C. S. Lewis had moved to what he expected to be a rural retreat) the new estate was well under construction: most of houses were built by Benfield & Loxley. There are seven aerial photographs on the “Britain from the Air” website show (two from 1935, three from 1947, and two from 1953).

Magdalen Farm disappeared, but Monk's Farm still survives at the very top of Kiln Lane.

On the north side of the London Road (opposite Forest Lodge and the Nielsen site), the Brooklands Café, run by Miss Dorothy Dodds (picture) was also considered at this time to be part of Risinghurst: it stood to the side of Burlington Crescent.

Kelly's Directory for 1936 lists the houses in what is now the Risinghurst area in three different places:

  • Listed under Forest Hill and mixed up alphabetically with that village's entries (11 houses):
    (1) Kiln Lane: six houses (most of which probably preceded the new estate), including The Kilns, Monks Farm Cottage, Onoway, and Lane End
    (2) Kiln Lane estate: Just three houses so far
    (3) London Road section of Risinghurst: The old Forest Lodge (occupied by Major Aubrey Vere, D.S.O.), and the new Brooklands Café. There were also other private houses.
  • Listed under Forest Hill with the subheading Risinghurst Estate (119 houses):
    Three new roads: Collinwood Road, Downside Road, and Grovelands Road, plus another section of Kiln Lane (119 houses in all).
  • Listed alphabetically by street under the City of Oxford (106 houses):
    Two new roads: Forest Road (32 houses) and Ridgeway Road (34 houses), plus the pre-existing Green Road east (now with 40 houses).

The only telephone numbers in Risinghurst listed in 1936 (Headington 6738 and 6975) belonged to the Kiln Lane builder A. C. Carter & Co., linked to the exchange in Lime Walk .

The city/county division of Risinghurst,
and ensuing complications in Kelly's Directory

Most of Headington had been taken into the City of Oxford in 1929, and the boundary lay through the middle of the area that was to become the new Risinghurst estate. This makes locating streets in Kelly's Directory difficult: some are listed in the main city of Oxford section, but those in the Kiln Lane estate (later the Risinghurst estate) were originally listed under Forest Hill in the surrounding villages section in the back of the Oxford directories. Later the county part of the estate was listed under “Risinghurst & Sandhills”.

The twelve streets that had been built up by 1938 were as follows

Streets in Headington
(in the City)

Streets in Forest Hill
(in the County)

Forest Road
Green Road (inc. Roundway)
London Road south
Ridgeway Road

Collinwood Road & Close
Downside Road
Grovelands Road
Kiln Lane

The Link
Netherwoods Close
Ringwood Road
Stanway Road

The parts of the present Risinghurst that came under the County were recognizable by grass on the pavement (still present in e.g. Kiln Lane and Grovelands). Children who lived in the county attended Sandhills School, and those who lived in the City of Oxford attended Margaret Road School. This division continued until 1991.

Map of Risinghurst in 1936The above map of 1936/7 shows the new estate. As the eastern bypass did not exist then,
it is easier to envisage the Headington Quarry/Forest Hill divide

See bigger, clearer version of above map

Forest Road, RisinghurstPostcard showing Forest Road, Risinghurst

Shops in 1938

By 1938 there were five shops in the Forest Hill part of the estate:

  • Downside Road: Branch No. 28 of the Oxford Co-operative Society Ltd (pictured here).
  • 44 Downside Road: Frederick Charles Bell, shopkeeper
  • 46 Downside Road: Henry Speakman and Miss Florence Speakman, newsagents & post office
  • 58 Stanway Road: The Cash Stores (Mrs E. W. Bates & Mrs F. Rootes), grocers, tobacconists, & general stores
  • 3A Kiln Lane: Edward Arthur Morris, boot & shoe repairer

In addition in the Quarry part of the estate there were shops at the Roundway (listed in directories under Green Road). In 1938 only five out of the seven shops had opened:

  • 1. Harry L. Dykes, car hire service, grocer, tobacconist & stationer, Tel. 6489
  • 2. George Owen, tobacconist
  • 3. John W. Bowen, hairdresser
  • 4. Burton's Dairies Ltd
  • 5. (Not listed in 1938: occupied in 1941 by Bellamy's Dispensing Chemists Ltd)
  • 6. (Not listed in 1938: occupied in 1941 by Stanley Shergold, ironmonger)
  • 7. Eric E. Bond, cycle agent

Ampleforth Arms

In 1939 Ind Coope built the Ampleforth Arms pub (above) at 53 Collinwood Road. 

In 1947 the harpsichord builder Robert Goble moved to Greatstones in Kiln Lane, and his firm Robert Goble & Son is still there in 2021.

In the late 1940s a residents' group obtained an old Army building from Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel Sir) John Mansel Miller at Shotover House. This was dismantled brick by brick and rebuilt on a corner of the allotments off Kiln Lane.

United Reformed Church

Risinghurst is in the parish of Holy Trinity Church in Quarry, but it has a nonconformist church: Collinwood Road United Reformed Church (above). It opened in 1949 as a Congregational church in what is now one of the two church halls: the present church was built in the early 1960s.

Olive Jacks' Field: 1951

Olive Jacks' Field

This field is on the left as Kiln Lane starts to ascend the hill, and was opened in 1951.

Olive Cecilia Brooke (later Jacks) was born in Manchester Square in Marylebone on 6 July 1868. She was the daughter of Stopford Brooke.

Her husband the Revd Lawrence Pearsall Jacks was born in Nottingham on 9 October 1860. In 1886 he gained his M.A. at Manchester New College (then in London), followed by a year studying philosophy at Harvard University. He then served as a Unitarian assistant minister in London under his future father-in-law, and married Olive in London in 1889.

At the time of the 1891 census Olive and her husband (now a full Unitarian minister) were living at 79 Bedford Street, Liverpool with two servants. By 1901 he was a minister in Birmingham, and they lived at 31 Edgbaston Road with their first five children: Oliver (9), Maurice (7), Stopford (5), Evelyn (1), and the newborn baby Graham, plus two servants. Their youngest child Hector Beaumont Jacks was born in 1903.

In about 1905 Olive's husband became a Lecturer at Manchester College, now at its new home in Oxford, and from 1905 to 1911 they lived at 28 Holywell Street (a Manchester College house). The 1911 census shows Olive (42) and Lawrence (50) at this house with their children Oliver (19), Stopford (15), Evelyn (11), Graham (10), and Hector (9). They had three servants. Manchester College still came under the University of London until 1920, so Olive's husband had to be matriculated at the University of Oxford from Exeter College in 1911.

When Lawrence Jacks was appointed Principal of Manchester College in 1914, he and his family moved up to Shotover Edge, a large house designed for them by Thomas Rayson on the hill up to Shotover. They still lived there in 1928.

In 1930 Olive's husband retired from being Principal of Manchester College and they moved to Greatstones in Kiln Lane, Risinghurst (below), where they remained until 1935.


By 1936 they were living on Shotover Hill again, this time at Far Outlook. The 1939 census shows Olive and Lawrence (described as an editor and author) living there alone with no servants. Their son Maurice, who was a teacher, was living nearby at Windrush with his wife Emily and their servant, plus a children's nurse.

Olive Jacks died at the age of 76 near the beginning of 1945, and her husband Lawrence Jacks donated the field as a playground in her memory. The inscription below, on two plaques on a low wall at the Kiln Lane entrance, reads:
    PRESENTED BY / DR L.P. JACKS / 1951                  IN MEMORY OF / HIS WIFE / OLIVE

Olive Jacks inscription

Lawrence Jacks died at Far Outlook on 17 February 1955: his effects came to £41,241 and his executors were his sons Maurice Leonard Jacks, who was Director of the Department of Education in Oxford, and Stopford Brooke Ludlow Jacks, a company director.

By 1953 Risinghurst had a branch library (photograph).

The Shotover Arms pub closed in about 1953.


In 1956 A. C. Nielsen Co. Ltd., a marketing research firm with five offices in central Oxford, took over Forest Lodge (formerly Shotover Lodge) on the London Road, and by 1958 had erected new buildings in its grounds. Photographs:

Nielsen's moved to the Oxford Business Park in March 2018, selling their Risinghurst site to developers. In November 2017 Shaviram Headington Ltd was granted approval under permitted development rights for the change of use of Nielsen House and annexe from office to provide 114 one-bedroomed flats and 20 two-bedroomed flats (17/02969/B56).


The above photograph taken on 9 February 2020 shows the flats under construction from the south side.

In 1958 the eastern bypass was built, cutting off Risinghurst.

The Shotover Arms Hotel opened in the former pub of that name in the late 1950s. In 1967 it became a pub again and this was still open in 1993; but by 1996 it had been taken over by McDonalds.

In 1969 Dora Stephen gave the present nature reserve behind C. S. Lewis's home to the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust in memory of her husband Henry Stephen.

In the 1980s the California-based C.S. Lewis Foundation bought The Kilns house in the 1980s for £130,000

In 1991 the parts of Risinghurst that were hitherto part of Forest Hill were taken into the City of Oxford in 1991 at the same time as Sandhills (see new boundary stone).

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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