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Pullen’s Lane: The Vineyard (Pollock House)

Pollock House

This house, which was designed by Harry Wilkinson Moore and built on the west side of Pullen’s Lane in 1889/90, is described by Pevsner as “good and sober”. It was originally simply known as Professor Vines’s house; in 1923 it was jocularly given the name of The Vineyard after its first owner; in 1945 it was renamed Pollock House after its second owner; and in 2005 it was renamed The Vines.

The land on the west side of Pullens Lane remained in the hands of the Lord of the Manor of Headington, William Peppercorn, until his death in c.1874, when his family sold it to the trustees for the marriage settlement of George Herbert and Alicia Morrell. In the late 1880s the Morrells laid out plots for purchase.

Professor Sydney Howard Vines was the first person to have a house built on the former Morrell land to the west of the lane. Vines had been appointed to the Sherardian Professorship of Botany and a Fellowship at Magdalen College in 1888, and yhe next year he and his wife Agnes Bertha Vines employed the architect Harry Wilkinson Moore to build this house. The Oxford Chronicle for 12 October 1889 (page 2d) reads:

Headington Hill Estate — A large new residence is in course of erection on the hill side, facing Oxford, for Professor Vines. The site has a charming prospect, commanding views of the valley of the Cherwell, the distant woods, and in the foreground the beautiful tower of Magdalen College, backed up by the numerous towers and spires of other buildings. The new house is designed as a long low building, with all the main rooms arranged to take full advantage of the views, and appears to be very happy on its site. It is constructed of red brick, with stone dressings, and red tile roof, harmonising with the other residences grouped about this favoured spot, and the grounds have been very thoughtfully laid out by Professor Vines during the progress of the building operations, and already present a highly cultivated appearance. Mr. H.W. Moore, of Oxford, is employed as architect of the buildings, which have been very carefully carried out by Messrs. Wilkins and Sons, contractors, of Oxford.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal of the same date (p. 6f) carried an almost identical but shorter report on the house.

Pullen’s Lane was becoming a popular area for Oxford academics, as it combined the best of both worlds. Oona H. Ball wrote (Their Oxford Year, 1909), “The people who live on the edge of Headington Hill may be said to be making the best of both worlds. They are within the University radius – one and a half miles from Carfax at the centre of Oxford – and yet they are on a hill and, more or less in the country.” Other academics living in Pullen’s Lane around this time were Evelyn Abbott (Tutor in Classics, Balliol College): Sir William Markby (Reader in Indian Law, Balliol College); Arthur Sampson Napier (Professor of English Language and Literature); and Paul Willert (Tutor of Exeter College).

Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 11 October 1890 (p. 6c) reads:

As regards the residential portion of the town, new houses continue to spring up in the outlying suburbs. On Headington Hill a new red brick residence has just been completed for Professor Vines by Messrs. Wilkins and Sons, contractors, of Oxford, from the designs of Mr. Moore, architect.

The house was completed in 1890, and the Vines family moved in with their baby daughter, Margaret (born 1888). Early in 1893 their other child, Howard William, was baptised at St Andrew’s Church.

Professor Vines and his wife were evidently away at the time of the 1891 census, as the house is occupied by their four servants (a nurse, cook, parlourmaid, and housemaid) looking after their children Margaret (3) and Walter (1). The 1901 census is even less revealing: they must have taken their two children off on holiday with them that Easter, along with the nurse, leaving three servants behind.

Their son Walter Vines, who became Professor of Pathology at Charing Cross Hospital, describes the domestic arrangements of the house in H.M. Harris, Within Living Memory:

We had our own water supply, pumped daily from a well by our gardener, our own cesspit pumped out at intervals by the same functionary, limited gas lighting, fish tail and later mantles, oil lamps, candles to light you to bed, coal fires, coal range with a “boiler” in the kitchen to provide the weekly hot bath on Saturdays….

The Vines family was again away at the time of the 1911 census, and the house was looked after by their cook, parlourmaid, and housemaid.

Professor Vines retired in 1919, and moved to Exmouth in about 1921. In 1922 the house was vacant, and from 1923 it was occupied by Sir Montagu Pollock, later known as Sir Montagu Frederick Montagu-Pollock, who jocularly christened it the Vineyard: it had formerly had no official name. Directories list Pollock as living there until 1937; he must have died around that year, because from 1939 to 1947 the house is listed under the name of Lady Margaret Montagu-Pollock.

In 1948 the Vineyard was purchased by the United Oxford Hospitals, who named it Pollock House after its last owner. From 1948 to 1956 it was the Nurses Training School of the Wingfield-Morris Orthopaedic Hospital (now the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre), and from 1958 to at least 1976 it was their Night Nurses’ Home. It was part of Oxford Brookes University until 2004.

The Vines


The house, renamed The Vines, is now occupied by SCIO (Scholarship & Christianity in Oxford), which is the UK Centre of the CCCU (Centre for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities).

The house is available to let as student housing for Oxford summer school programmes, economical accommodation for conferences, or furnished sabbatical housing.

See also:

  • Oxford Chronicle, 12 October 1889 and 11 October 1890
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal 12 October 1889 (p. 6f) and 11 October 1890 (p. 6c)
  • Oxoniensia 35, p. 81

© Stephanie Jenkins

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