Headington history: Listed Buildings/Structures

Go backwards
Go forwards

Bury Knowle Outbuildings

Bury Knowle Barn, Stables, and Coach House are not listed buildings, but are included in this section for completeness. The detail below from the 1876 OS map of Headington shows Bury Knowle House marked with a red dot, the coach house with yellow, and the barn with blue.

1876 OS map showing Bury Knowle

1. Bury Knowle barn and stables

Stables and barn of Bury Knowle House

The plan below is taken from the Cowley Enclosure Award of 1853: note that North is to the right. At the top (west) of the plan “Headington Village Street” is the present Old High Street, and at the bottom (east) is Bury Knowle House, described as the “Mansion of the late Sir Joseph Lock”, who had died in 1844. Under this Enclosure Award, the Revd Benjamin Parsons Symons and the Revd William Simcox Bricknell exchanged Plot 176 on the Cowley map for Plot 184 in Headington.

1853 plan showing stables and barn

This1853 plan clearly shows Bury Knowle Coach House (just to the left of the number in a circle) and the Barn to the west (above the coach house); and the Stables (set back from the left side of the barn). (The building line of the stables seems different from today, and it looks as though the stables may have been rebuilt between 1853 and 1876.)

The ownership of the barn in 1853 is helpfully supplied thus on the plan: “Barn belonging to Magdalen College in Lease to Mr Thomas Knowles”. There were conditions relating to access to the barn, showing that Thomas Knowles, who lived at Hermitage at 69 Old High Street, was still using it for agricultural purposes. The exchange was subject to:

the free and perpetual right to and for the said President and Scholars [of Magdalen College] and their successors and their Lessee or Lessees Tenants or Undertenants and Occupiers for the time being of opening the Doors of a Barn adjoining or any substituted barn on the South East Part or side of the said Old Inclosure numbered 184 into and upon the yard described on the said Map and of keeping such Doors at their or his Will and pleasure open during the times of thrashing or winnowing corn therein or such like reasonable purpose Also a way and passage with Horses which may from time to time be taken from any Waggon or Vehicle in the said Barn while used in depositing Corn or other produce therein and thence across and over so much of the said yard forming part of the said Old Inclosure numbered 184 on the said Map as is therein distinguished by a red Color [colours not shown above] so as to enable the occupier for the time being of the said Barn to draw Waggons and other Vehicles therein for which purpose the part of the said Yard to be used as aforesaid and in the said Map colored Red shall henceforth for ever be open and undivided as the same now is without any Building or impediment to be erected or made thereon or therein.

On 28 January 1880, Magdalen College put the freehold of 69 Old High Street up for sale, and Mrs Maria Ballachey of Bury Knowle House bought some of the grounds of the property, namely the stables and barn (as well as part of the front yard, which she donated as a site for a British Workman Temperance building).

The stables are likely to have been rebuilt around this time, probably by the next owner, Edward Fielden, who bought the house in 1885 and was Master of the South Oxfordshire Foxhounds.

The 1899 auction catalogue for the contents of Bury Knowle House shows that by that date the barn was being used for storage. The joint contents of the stables and barn are listed in the catalogue as follows:

Stables and Barn: Six pillar reins &c.; Carriage setter, 2 forks and broom; Two-partition corn bin, 2 sieves, and measure; Chaff cutter by Bentall; Ten qr. sacks; Trusses of hay; Thirty-three rung ladder; Twenty ditto; Capital water or manure cart; Iron manger and hay rack; Sawing block, &c.; Wicker summer-house; Two wicker chairs; Dog cub and sundries; Quantity of packing cases and firewood; pigeon coop.

The next owner of Bury Knowle House, Charles Miskin Laing, listed his only recreation as “hunting”, so he too would have found the stables useful. He lived at the house from 1899 to 1923.

Oxford City Council have owned the stables and barn since June 1930, when they bought the whole Bury Knowle estate from the last private owner for £11,600.

From 1981 to 1996 the stables were used by Oxford Film Makers Ltd (latterly Oxford Film & Video Makers Ltd), who were granted temporary permission for “light industrial use and ancillary offices”.

Interior of barn of Bury Knowle House



Right: The interior of the barn in 2011.


The stables and barn of Bury Knowle House have in recent years been used by Oxford City Council for storage, but in 2011 it decided to sell off its redundant property throughout the city.


The first planning application (11/00285/CT3) to convert the stables and barn to housing was withdrawn pending a decision by English Heritage.


A new planning application 12/01605/CT3 to convert these buildings into three two-bedroomed dwellings was submitted in June 2012.


2. Bury Knowle Coach House

Bury Knowle coach house

Sir Joseph Lock who built Bury Knowle House originally leased a coach house and stables from the Hermitage at 69 Old High Street. In August 1838 he leased another coach house, alongside Bury Knowle House, together with garden and arable land, from Thomas Godfrey. It was then described as “the coach house and stable erected several years ago”. In his will of 1844, Lock itemizes the coaches, horses, and ponies he would have kept here:

… my Coach and my Phaeton and the old Chariot together with my Carriage horses and the harness and accoutrements belonging thereto The Cart horse bought of the late Mr. Whorwood Snr

Chesnut Nag the poney donkey and three Carts and the Poney Carriage and two Poneys given to me by Captain Wilson with the harness and appurtenances belonging to the same….

When the contents of the mansion were auctioned in 1899, there were four vehicles listed for sale in the coach house:

  • Small pony gig (with extra seat, upholstered in green cloth, with red wheels, lamps, and cover complete, by Allen, Longacre)
  • Small dogcart (upholstered in blue cloth, with lamp, rug, and cover complete, by Offord, Kensington)
  • Capital French buggy (upholstered in green cloth, rubber tyres, lamps, white cloth rug and cover complete, by Rothschild, Paris)
  • Station cart in excellent condition, by Collins, Oxford

Also for sale in the coach house were a gent’s, girl’s, and small boy’s bicycle; a waterproof carriage rug and two whips; a luggage basket for brougham and two whips; two gig umbrellas; two carriage foot warmers; an India rubber hose and spout; and a whip rack carriage cover, &c.

The coach house was bought by Oxford City Council (along with the rest of the Bury Knowle estate) in 1932. It was used by the council as a store building from 1958, and then became a small craft workshop. It gradually became derelict, and from 1987 the council’s Parks Subsection was based there.

The coach house was renovated by Peter Reynolds Associates in 1990. Permission was granted to turn it into offices, and Jewell & Co architects moved in.

See also:

  • Rhona Walker, “Bury Knowle House in context: its history, design, and architecture”, Oxoniensia 72 (2007), pp. 37–54, especially the section on “Bury Knowle’s outbuildings” (pp. 51–2)

© Stephanie Jenkins

Headington home Shark Oxford History home