Headington history: Descriptions

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Headington in 1949

Reginald Turnor, Oxfordshire (1949)

Except geologically, Headington suggests nothing more than a deplorable Oxford suburbia on which it would be a pity to waste words. There is, it is true, the old village of Headington Quarry whose terrain is broken up into serried levels by its ancient purpose, but all around it the face of the land has been ravaged by the acne of speculative development.

Arthur Mee: The King’s England (1949)

Headington. We see much of it in the streets of Oxford, for the venerable appearance of many colleges there is due to the crumbling stone of Headington. It perishes rapidly in a smoky atmosphere, but so pure is the air of its own village that Saxon kings are said to have sent their children here to breathe it. In a field called Court Close King Ethelred had his hunting lodge.

The church was started by the Normans and their splendid chancel arch is still here, wide and round, with rows of zigzag, and a pointed arch inserted over it to share its burden. The chancel is 15th century, with its original roof, and the modern door has iron bands 700 years old. The chancel roof has two fine angel corbels. There is an ancient chest. In some of the windows are fragments of ancient glass, but it is to the west window to which we look, with its picture of old Barton Manor, where lived the lady in whose memory the window is, Vashti de Montfort Wellborne.



  • While the 1930s saw the infilling of the existing area of Headington, the 1940s saw the advancement of development into the countryside. Turnor does not appear to have visited Old Headington….


© Stephanie Jenkins

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