Manor Ground: Origins

Entrance to Oxford United

Headington Sports Ground Ltd bought the Manor Ground for the people of Headington in the mid-1920s by to replace the former public recreation ground to the south of Headington House which had been sold to make way for the Stephen Road development.

Headington Sports Ground Ltd (a charitable body which met at the British Workman in Old High Street and which succeeded the Headington Recreation Ground Committee) would surely have assumed that they had safeguarded the Manor Ground for ever against a similar kind of development by imposing an important covenant on the ground restricting its use to open-air sports, whoever bought it.

The appeal for funds made by the Headington Recreation Ground Committee for the original Stephen Road site in 1913 is reproduced below. Many of the arguments used still hold good today.

Headington and Highfield Recreation Ground

The want of a Recreation Ground for the Inhabitants of Headington and Highfield has long been felt, and with the rapid growth of these districts, that want is the more accentuated and the required land is more difficult to obtain.

An opportunity is now offered of purchasing the front field of Headington House which would form an ideal position and which would, without difficulty, provide Bowling Greens, Tennis Courts, Cricket Pitches, Football Grounds, a general playground for the children and sheltered walks for older persons. This land, including the lodge, can be purchased for the moderate sum of £1500.

A largely attended Public Meeting of the Inhabitants has been held on the proposed Ground and it was the unanimous resolution of the Meeting that a Recreation Ground was desirable and that the proposed ground was not only the most central and convenient site, but at the same time the cheapest obtainable.

It is felt that if this ground can be acquired, it will at once prove the greatest boon to all classes and it will be a pleasant resort and playground for the children, who are at the present time forced to play in the streets.

All who care for the welfare of the children and all who realize the value of an open space in the midst of a rapidly growing population are asked to contribute, as generously as they can, towards this object.

The bulk of the purchase money must be subscribed within six weeks from this date, but promises of donations extending over two years or more will be welcomed. The Committee are making strenuous efforts to collect the required sum, as if the ground is not purchased now, the opportunity of acquiring a Recreation Ground will be for ever lost.

Donations will be gladly received by the Hon. Treasurer at Trelawney, Highfield, Oxford, or they may be paid into the account of the Headington and Highfield Recreation Ground, at the Old Bank, Oxford.

By Order of the Committee.
James Hoole, Chairman
George Mallam, Hon. Treas.
Hugh N. Davenport, Hon. Sec.
25th August 1913.

Bodleian Library: GA Oxon c.317

© Stephanie Jenkins


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