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Doris Ruth Field, and her parents Lewis and Harriet Field


Memorial Park boardDoris Field Memorial Park, off Jack Straw's Lane

Doris Field's father

Lewis Field was born in Duns Tew on 14 March 1870 and baptised there on 11 June. He was the son of the carpenter William Field, who was born in Spelsbury in 1830 and baptised there on 11 July, recorded in the parish register as William Sotheham Field, the baseborn son of Elizabeth Field.

Lewis's mother Elizabeth Merry was born in Deddington in 1836, the daughter of the farmer & baker Nathan Merry and his wife Susannah.

Lewis Field's parents were married at Deddington on 21 November 1854.

By the time of the 1891 census Lewis (20) was a house decorator, living at 1 Princes Street in East Oxford with his father William, who was now a wheelwright, his mother Elizabeth, and his younger brother Sidney (18), who was a coach painter.

Just prior to his marriage in 1898 Lewis was living in St Clement's at Cave Street (then called George Street). His parents were living at 13 Rectory Road (then called Pembroke Street).

Doris Field's mother

Harriet Sturges was born at Sleay Barn Cottage, Cuddesdon on 22 December 1871 and registered as Harriett Sturgiss. She was the daughter of the shepherd William Sturges (born in Wheatley in c.1828) and his wife Mary (born in Haseley in c.1830).

At the time of the 1881 census Harriet, who was ten years old and still at school, was living at Sleay Barn Cottage with her parents and four of her siblings. She was still there in 1891 at the aged of 19 and employed in domestic work. Just prior to her marriage in 1898 she was living at Park Crescent in Park Town, where she was probably in service.

On 14 May 1898 at Ss Philip & James's Church, Oxford, Lewis Field (27) married Harriet Sturges (26). She described her father as a farm bailiff, although he was in fact still working as an agricultural labourer until at least 1901.

At the time of the 1901 census Lewis Field (30) was living with Harriet (29) at the Cricketer’s Arms in Iffley Road, where he served as the landlord while continuing to work as a painter & decorator. Doris, their only child, was born at the pub:

  • Doris Ruth Field (born at the Cricketer's Arms, 43 Iffley Road on 8 February 1904
    and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 15 May).

27 Iffley Road

 

By the time of the 1911 census the family was living at 27 Iffley Road, and Doris's father Lewis Field was now just working at his original trade as a house decorator. His name still survives in the glass over the front door (right)

 

Lewis Field continued to live at 27 Iffley Road with his wife until his retirement in c.1937. From 1933 to 1936, however, he was simultaneously listed in the commercial section as being the farmer at Plowman's Farm in Pullens Lane, Headington. This farm was better known as Jack Straw's Farm or Castle, and the road in which it stood is now Jack Straw's Lane. Their daughter Doris was on the Hendon electoral register in the early 1930s, but her residence was recorded there as 27 Iffley Road.

Following his retirement, Lewis Field moved to Oakgate on the south side of Jack Straw’s Lane (now No. 40): he is listed as a private resident there in Kelly's Directory for 1938 and can also be seen there in the 1939 register with his wife Harriet and their daughter Doris.

1939 map1939 map showing Jack Straw's Farm, with Hillside (33 Jack Straw's Lane)
next door to the west, and Oakgate (42 Jack Straw's Lane) to the
south-east of the lane behind Cowley Cottage (now a children's nursery)

In 1939 Doris Field was working as a clerk/cashier in the office of a motor firm, but from 1940 to 1946 she was a nurse at Great Yarmouth.

From 1947 the farm was no longer listed in directories, but Lewis Field remained at Oakgate (40 Jack Straw's Lane), and was still living there when he died at the Cowley Road Hospital at the age of 86 on 26 June 1957. His effects came to £48,584.

His widow Harriet Field remained at 40 Jack Straw's Lane and died there at the age of 94 on 8 March 1966. Her effects came to £137,127.

Jack Straw’s Farm and the adjoining cottage at 33 Jack Straw's Lane were inherited by their daughter, Doris Field, who created the Doris Field Memorial Park on some of the fields of Jack Straw's Farm in memory of her mother Harriet Field.

The view from Doris Field Memorial Park

View of Oxford

The tower in the centre foreground is that of St Michael & All Angels in New Marston. The towers and spires of central Oxford run left to right as follows:

  • University Church of St Mary the Virgin
  • Robinson Tower at New College
  • The twin towers of All Souls College
  • All Saints Church (now Lincoln College Library)
  • Radcliffe Camera
  • New College bell tower
  • Tower of the Five Orders at the Bodleian Library
  • The green cupola of the Sheldonian Theatre
  • The narrow spire of the chapel of Exeter College
  • St Peter's College
  • Green spire of Nuffield College, with cupola of the former NatWest Bank in Cornmarket in front.

This view is discussed here in the Oxford View Cones Assessment of 2014.

The park is reached via the private road that runs beside the postbox in Jack Straw's Lane.

In about 1971 Miss Doris Field moved into the cottage next door to the farm at 33 Jack Straw's Lane, and she was there until at least 1976. Neighbours remember that after she had moved from the cottage to live elsewhere, she continued to get a pint of milk delivered to the doorstep of No 33 every day and had it collected by a chauffeur and brought to her new home.

Doris Field died at a Witney Nursing Home on 18 August 1988, and her funeral service was at St Clement's Church on 26 August. Her estate was valued at £2,688,511 net.

The Doris Field Charitable Trust was constituted under a Trust Deed dated 16 May 1990, created out of the will of Doris Ruth Field. It gives grants, mostly to local charities, averaging about £400,000 a year. Many Headington charities, such as the Headington Festival, have benefited from grants from this trust.

In 1990 plans for a development of twelve dwellings to the rear of 17–31 Jack's Straws Lane were approved, and in 1993 Doris Field Close was named after Doris Field.

The Rectory Homes development at Nos. 35–43 Jack Straw's Lane in 2006 are the most recent houses built on the lands of Jack Straw's Farm.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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