Headington history: Miscellaneous

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Origins of Headington Street Names

Lord Valentia
The eponymous Lord Valentia of Valentia Road winning the seat of Oxford
in the General Election of 1906: he was allowed to stand as his was an Irish peerage,
and only UK peers are banned from standing as MPs. If his opponent Whale
had won instead, Headington could have a Whale Road as well as a Shark House

Streets named after families or individuals

Local families

  • Many major landowners of Headington (who are all listed in the Headington Enclosure Award) have given their names to Headington streets, including the Latimers of Headington House; the Finches of the Rookery; the Morrells and Whartons of Headington Hill Hall and Headington Lodge respectively; the Burrows family of Southfield Farm; the Holleys of Holley Farm; and the Fortnams. These are remembered in Latimer Road, Finch Close, Mather Road, Morrell Avenue, Wharton Road, Burrows Close, Holley Crescent, and Fortnam Close.
  • Equally honoured, however, are many Headington families who would have been employed by those landowners as servants and agricultural labourers: hence (with the date the surname first appears in Headington parish registers) Bateman Street (1738), Bushnell Close (1697), Cooper Place (1758), Coppock Close (1773), Gardiner Street (1726), Gurden Place (1681), Gurl Close (1806), Slaymaker Close (1778) and Trafford Road (1717).
  • With some street names, it is difficult to tell whether they commemorate a local family or an individual (or indeed both). Hedges Close, for example, could refer to the Hedges family (baptisms from 1769), or to William Hedges, who lived in Barton Manor.
  • Horwood Close was named after the Headington man who built it, leaving the Whorwoods who were Lords of the Manor of Headington from 1613 to 1849 and whose name might evoke unfortunate connotations unremembered. The earlier Lords of the Manor are however commemorated in Barton with Brome Place, Wilcote Road,and Bassett Road, and a later Lord of the Manor is remembered by Peppercorn Avenue in Wood Farm.
  • North Place is presumably named after John North, the market gardener who built 29 Old High Street.

Councillors, Mayors, Prime Ministers

  • Mark Road and Weyland Road were probably named after Captain Mark Ulick Weyland, Chairman of Headington Rural District Council in 1927/8 (the only year of its existence). In that case Franklin Road is likely to have been named after A. H. Franklin, Chairman of Headington Urban District Council for its two-year existence (1928/9 and 1929/30), who lived in Headington House rather than after the Oxford Mayor Jeremy Franklin.
  • For the group of Mayors of Oxford in Barton, see “Themed Names” below. There are other stray Mayors: in Wood Farm there are William Chillingworth in Chillingworth Crescent and Robert Pauling in Pauling Road; and Northway honours the Lord Mayor of 1978/9, Dora Carr, in Dora Carr Close and the Mayor of 1843/4, Harry Ingle, in Ingle Close. Near Girdlestone Road, Flexney Place is probably named after Ralph Flexney I and/or Ralph Flexney II, who both served as Mayor of Oxford in the fifteenth and sixteenth century respectively. Less certain is whether Langley Close off Windmill Road is named after Matthew Langley, Mayor in 1651.
  • Sir Thomas Stapleton (MP for Oxford in 1759–1761) gives his name to Stapleton Road; while Bickerton Road commemorates Joseph Jones Bickerton, a well-known Oxford Town Clerk and Liberal councillor who died in 1894 and who had purchased some of the land of Highfield Farm.
  • For the group of prime ministers in the Gipsy Lane estate, see “Themed Names” below. William Gladstone and William Pitt appear in Gladstone Road and Pitts Road (although some prefer to believe that the latter name had more to do with the nearby quarries).


  • Osler Road, the new name for Manor Road, remembers the famous physician Sir William Osler, and came via the name of the Osler pavilion which once stood on the John Radcliffe site.
  • A famous orthopaedic surgeon, Gathorne Girdlestone, provided names for both Gathorne Road and Girdlestone Road (although he would probably not have been pleased, as he refused to allow the Wingfield Hospital to bear his name).
  • Acland Close is named after the well-known Oxford doctor Henry Acland
  • Bracegirdle Road is named after Dr Bracegirdle, the physician who erected a mounting stone at the foot of Shotover Hill.
  • Feilden Grove is named after Katharine Feilden, who paid for the original hospital that became the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre.


  • Palmer Road is named after James Palmer, the curate of St Andrew’s, who defended the poor people of Headington Quarry (which then included Wood Farm) against both Sir Joseph Lock of Bury Knowle House and the Lord of the Manor of Headington
  • Perrin Street is named after the Revd Howard Nasmith Perrin, who from 1905 to 1910 was Priest in Charge of All Saints’ mission chapel in that street, and was responsible for the building of the later nave of the present All Saints’ Church.
  • Stansfeld Place (and of course Stansfeld Park itself) are named after the Revd J. S. Stansfeld, but Stansfield Close, which has an extra “i”, is uncertain.
  • Douglas Downes Close is named after Douglas Downes, the chaplain who worked under Stansfeld at St Ebbe's Church. He was also the Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford and founded the Society of St Francis.
  • Wilberforce Street is probably named after the nineteenth-century Bishop of Oxford Samuel Wilberforce, rather than his father William Wilberforce who stopped the slave trade.

Other individuals

The names of fifteenth-century Headington quarrymen preserved in the accounts of Merton College were dug up for three streets in central Headington that were renamed in the 1950s: Norton Close, Piper Street and Kennett Road.

  • Barrington Close was named after Barrington Capel, who built the houses there.
  • Bursill Close in Sandhills is named after Mrs S. M. Bursill, who lived in Headington Hall in Sandhills in the 1950s.
  • Cinnaminta Road is named after the beautiful gipsy girl Cinnaminta whose family used to camp off the Slade (as described in R. D. Blackmore, Cripps the Carrier, published in 1876).
  • Ethelred Close was named after King Ethelred, Headington’s earliest known inhabitant, while the adjacent Dunstan Road recalls St Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury who helped to get him on the throne.
  • Holyoake Road ultimately takes its name from George Jacob Holyoake, an important man in the Co-op movement. He died in 1906, and the following year Headington Co-op built Holyoake Terrace (which in 1938 was demolished to make way for Holyoake Hall, the dance-hall that became a snooker club and is now flats). The road was named after the hall.
  • Hubble Close in Barton was named after Miss I. D. Hubble, head teacher of Barton Village School, which used to be on this site
  • Lewis Close in Risinghurst is named after C.S. Lewis, whose former home, the Kilns, stands at the end of that road.
  • Henry Taunt Close in Barton is named after the famous Oxford photographer Henry Taunt.
  • Pether Road is named after the nineteenth-century-farmer at Wood Farm, Richard Pether. His daughter married Frederick Morris, and their famous son William Morris spent part of his life early life at Brasenose/Wood Farm in Headington. William Morris himself is commemorated by his title of Lord Nuffield in Nuffield Road.
  • Pullen’s Lane is named after the Revd Josiah Pullen.
  • Shelley Close in Risinghurst is named after Percy Bysshe Shelley, who when he was an undergraduate liked to walk up to Shotover
  • Terrett Avenue in Sandhills named after Joseph S. Terrett, who was Headmaster of Forest Hill with Shotover (Sandhills) School in the 1950s

Little Oxford estate

This estate to the south of Old Road, built in the early 1990s, necessitated the naming of five new roads, and local subjects were chosen, but without a coherent theme:

  • Acland Close is named after Sir Henry Acland, a former Regius Professor of Medicine
  • Demesne Furze is the ancient name of the whole area, mentioned in the Headington Enclosure Award
  • Mileway Gardens recalls the the 1667 mileway stone in Old Road
  • Skene Close is named after the Oxford prison reformer Felicia Skene, who has a blue plaque in St Michael's Street
  • Roosevelt Drive is named after an American President, in honour of the adjacent American Hospital, now the Churchill, which opened in 1941

Full names

A recent informal trend is to use the person’s full name, which makes identification much easier:

  • Cecil Sharp Place off Lime Walk and William Kimber Crescent off Gladstone Road recall the famous meeting in Headington of Cecil Sharp and William Kimber that led to the revival of English morris-dancing
  • John Garne Way off the Marston Road is named after John Garne, the Chief Education Officer of Oxfordshire County Council who supervised the amalgamation of the city and council education services in 1974. He died in 2004 around the time this road was created.
  • John Snow Place in Quarry is named after the well-known nineteenth-century local mason John Snow
  • Joan Lawrence Place in Wood Farm is named after Joan Lawrence (died 1988), who was the head teacher at the Slade Nursery School for thirty years
  • William Orchard Close in Old Headington remembers William Orchard, the architect of Magdalen College chapel and cloister, who lived in Barton and died in 1504
  • Douglas Downes Close off Quarry Road: see above under Clergymen
  • John Buchan Road in Northway is named after the author John Buchan, who lived across the fields in Elsfield from 1919 to 1935

Themed names on newer estates


The former Between Towns’ Field has roads named after trees:

  • Ash Grove
  • Blackthorn Close
  • Chestnut Avenue
  • Hawthorn Avenue.


The “lake district” comprises:

  • Ambleside Road
  • Bowness Avenue
  • Coniston Avenue
  • Derwent Avenue.

Members of Parliament

The Gipsy Lane estate boasts no fewer than five Oxford MPs:

  • Cardwell Crescent after Edward Cardwell (Liberal MP 1853–1874)
  • Grays Road after Frank Gray (Liberal MP in the 1920s and founder of the Oxford Mail). The use of the plural in Grays probably means it also acknowledges his father, Sir Walter Gray, four times Mayor of Oxford.
  • Harcourt Terrace after Sir William Harcourt (Liberal MP 1868–1880)
  • Stonor Place after Thomas Stonor (Roman Catholic Whig MP of the 1830s)
  • Valentia Road after Viscount Valentia (Conservative MP 1895–1917).


Oxford Mayors are particularly well represented in Barton:

college heads and founders

Seven roads on the east side of Barton have college associations:

  • Waynflete Road after William Waynflete (c.1398–1496), founder of Magdalen College
  • Routh Road after Martin Routh (1755–1854), President of Magdalen College
  • Claymond Road after John Claymond (1468–1537), President of Magdalen College
  • Humfrey Road after Laurence Humfrey (d.1588), President of Magdalen College
  • Mather Road after John Mather (1676–1748), President of Corpus Christi College
  • Malford Road after Richard Malford, Warden of New College
  • Cranley Road after Thomas Cranley, Warden of New College.

Descriptive names
  • Wood Farm Road is so named because the estate occupies the site of the former farm of that name) and Titup Hall Drive is named after Titup Hall, which used to be on the site of the Crown & Thistle pub
  • Stile Road crosses the point where there was a stile on the old diagonal footpath from Quarry
  • Nursery Close and Mattock Close were built on the former Ryman’s and Mattock’s nurseries
  • Brookside used to be an obvious name – until the adjoining Boundary Brook was diverted underground.
  • Others street are named after old Headington field names, such as Sandfield Road, Highfield Avenue, and Southfield Road
  • Grunsell Close is named after Grunsell Copse (originally Grants Hill Copse)
  • Bulan Road and Dene Road share the name of an old field at the foot of Shotover called Bulandene (later corrupted to Bullingdon, the name of the Hundred headed by Headington)
  • Cheney Lane is an old name, perhaps referring to a chain across the road. If so, this chain could date from the time when the lane was an important section of the old Turnpike Road to London.

Many other old street names of Headington have been obliterated, as they tended to be so obvious that they were repeated in other parts of Oxford: these include “Church Street”, “High Street”, and Manor Road.

  • Leiden Road is named after Oxford’s Dutch twin.


Other names defy categorization:

  • Is Coolidge Close really named after an American Fellow of Magdalen who was an authority on the Alps?
  • Was the Margaret of Margaret Road really the fifteenth-century Queen Margaret of Anjou?
  • Who or what were Binswood, Calcot, Larkin, Lyndworth, Palmer, or Staunton?
  • Is the Windsor of Windsor Street a palace or a person?

List of name-changes made to Headington streets

Marston street names

© Stephanie Jenkins

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