Headington history: Listed Buildings/Structures

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Church House, 14 St Andrew’s Road

Church House

List entry for Church House: 1347888

Church House, so named because it is immediately opposite St Andrew’s Church, is at 14 St Andrew’s Road (called Church Road until 1955), next door to the White Hart. It dates from around 1700.

Below: Church House in 1915

This house was held under the Manor of Heddington, and was described simply as “a messuage, yard and garden with appurtenances”.

In 1721 its copyhold was acquired by Henry Sellar and Hannah his wife, and in 1765 it was inherited by their son, William Sellar, a cordwainer. (Parson Woodforde in his diaries mentions a number of visits to “one Sellar a Shoemaker of Eddington” with whom he ran up large bills for new shoes and repairs: and in 1774 he records how he gave a shilling to his son who was with him.) William Sellar senior died in 1779, and his widow carried on the cordwaining business through her son William (baptised at St Andrew’s Church in 1762). But Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 22 September 1781 reported her intention to employ another person, because her son William, a minor, had married without her consent: this family quarrel explains why the copyhold was not officially assigned to William Sellar junior until 1791.

This advertisement which appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 19 March 1796 indicates that Church House was then occupied by the land surveyor Edward Barton and his wife Martha:

To be Lett, completely furnished,
In a pleasant and healthy Situation, at Headington, Within Two Miles of Oxford,

A Neat convenient STONE BUILT SASHED HOUSE, situate opposite the Church; consisting of Two Parlours, Kitchen and Back Kitchen, Three good Bed Chambers and three Garrets, an excellent Cellar, a Garden well stocked with Fruit Trees, a Greenhouse and Conservatory. Immediate Possesion may be had.

Enquire of Mr. Edward Barton, on the Premisses.

In 1797 Church House was conveyed by copyhold to James Eldridge, and then on 26 October 1802 by copyhold to the Revd James Palmer, the Curate of St Andrew’s Church, who lived there. Palmer died intestate on 16 March 1808 after being thrown from his horse at Uxbridge, but it was over forty years later (on 31 January 1849) that his son and heir, the Revd James Nelson Palmer of Breamore Rectory in Hampshire, appeared at the Court of the Manor of Heddington and was admitted tenant, rendering 1/- yearly rent, 3/- for a heriot, and 10/- for a fine.

The second Revd Palmer junior did not live in the house, and from 1819 it was let out, first to the Revd William Oddie, and then to the famous wood engraver Orlando Jewitt, who lived there from about 1838 to 1856. The Headington Rent-Book of December 1850 accordingly lists Jewitt as occupier, and the Revd Nelson Palmer as owner, and its rateable value as £20. Jewitt had moved out by 28 June 1856, when the forthcoming auction of Church House, which was copyhold of the Manor of Headington, was advertised thus in Jackson's Oxford Journal;

A HOUSE pleasantly situated near the Church, for many years the residence of the Rev. Wm. Oddie, and now unoccupied. The House is substantially built, and contains three sitting rooms, six bed rooms, cellar, laundry, and servants' offices. There is a good Garden at the back of the house, extending to the lane, where there is a back entrance.

At that auction Frederic Latimer, son of Edward Latimer (the former Lord of the Manor of Heddington) and the brother of Digby (the present Lord) bought Church House for £150 from the Revd Palmer with a mortgage from Adam Briggs, a draper of St Clements. Frederic, who had grown up in Headington House, was a wine-merchant at 11 High Street in Oxford, and had previously been living at 37 St Andrew’s Road. Frederic only lived at Church House for four years, and the following advertisement appeared on 18 August 1860:

The House contains dining, drawing, and morning rooms, 7 bed chambers (cottage sizes), 2 water closets, kitchen, scullery, larger, and cellar; at the back is a good garden, tastefully laid out, with summerhouse, and back entrance.
   This Property is Copyhold of the Manor of Headington, and is situate near the Church, and from the acknowledged salubrity of the air and soil of Headington, offers an opportunity to any one seeking a healthy and comfortable residence in a superior village, and within a short distance of Oxford.

Frederic Latimer and his family moved down to a villa on the Iffley Road in early 1865, and the following advertisement appeared on 4 February 1865:

HOUSE to be LET, LEASED, or SOLD,—A large old-fashioned COTTAGE, opposite Headington Church, containing 3 sitting rooms, 7 bed rooms, kitchen, back kitchen, and large larder, lately modernized; w.c. inside, and w.c. outside the house; with flower garden.—May be viewed March 1, and entered on Lady Day next [25 March 1866].

Church House was not sold at this point, and Frederic Latimer let out to a Mrs Lovell.

On 18 April 1868 it was advertised thus to let:

A large old-fashioned COTTAGE, containing parlour, drawing room, and a pretty little room now used as a store room, seven bed rooms, two w.c.'s, good force pump, never-failing well of water, kitchen, back kitchen, and a large airy larder, capacious underground cellar, garden, about 40 yards by 15, summer-house, a useful out-building, with back entrance to premises. Rent £30 per annum. Situated opposite the Church at Headington.

Latimer made another attempt to sell Church House in July 1868, according to this sale notice in the Bodleian Library:

Headington, near Oxford: Mr John Fisher is instructing F. Latimer Esq to sell by auction at the Black Horse Inn, St Clement’s on Thursday, July 30th, 1868 at 6 o’clock, a large, old-fashioned Cottage opposite the Church, containing Parlour, Drawing Room, and a Pretty Little Room, now used as a Store Room, Seven Bed Rooms, Two w.c.’s, Good Force Pump, never-failing Well of Water, Kitchen, Back Kitchen, and a large Airy Larder, Capacious Underground Cellar, Garden, about 120 feet by 45, Summer-house, a useful Out-Building, with back Entrance to Premises. This Property is Copyhold of the Manor of Headington and is subject to a Quit Rent of 2s annually, and land Tax of 17s. 3d. Further Particulars may be known of Sturman Latimer, Esq., Headington, or of the Auctioneer, 8 High Street, Oxford

Again it did not sell. Frederic Latimer died in 1870, and in 1871 the house is listed as unoccupied. On 11 February 1871 another forthcoming auction of the property was advertised thus:

A comfortable DWELLING HOUSE opposite the Church at Headington, comprising two sitting rooms, seven bed rooms, kitchen, store room, and servants' offices; together with a capital garden at the back, containing summer house and useful outbuildings.
This Property is Copyhold of the Manor of Headington, and is subject to a Quit Rent of 2s., a Land Tax of 17s. 6d. annually, and a Heriot of 10s.

On 23 March 1872 another auction was advertised:

STONE-BUILT HOUSE AND GARDEN, Opposite the Church, Headington….
The House contains in the basement two cellars; on the ground floor two sitting rooms, parlour, kitchen, scullery, and store room; and on the two upper floors 7 bed rooms and w.c. A large Garden in the rear, with summer-house, fowl-house, and the usual out offices. (Followed by same details about Copyhold as before.)

In 1873 Church House was sold for £227 to Frederic’s widowed sister, Mrs Caroline Latimer Nichol, by the sons of the man who had granted his mortgage. She renamed the house “De Crespigny Lodge” after her previous home in De Crespigny Park in London.

Mrs Nichol died in 1880. Her executors put the house up for auction and it was advertised as follows in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 14 August 1880:

A very Desirable FAMILY RESIDENCE,
With Garden, &c., known as “DE CRESPIGNY LODGE,”
pleasantly situated in the principal street of the village, and immediately opposite the Parish Church,
   The HOUSE contains a tiled entrance passage (communicating with the front and the garden), dining room and drawing room (each 15ft. by 14ft.), breakfast room, five bed rooms, two dressing rooms, w.c., kitchen, store room, scullery, larder, box room, good cellarage, excellent water supply, &c.
   The GARDEN has a shaded lawn, summer-house, tool-house, and entrance from lane at rear of premises.
   The Property is COPYHOLD of Inheritance of the Manor of Heddington, and is subject to a Yearly Rent of 2s. and a Heriot of 3s. when it happens. Land Tax, 17s. 3d. The fine on admission is 10s. only.

The house failed to sell at auction, and it came into the hands of Mrs Nichol's brother William Latimer, who died the following year and left it to his son, William Lawford Latimer of Wheatley. He immediately sold it to Thomas King of 85 St Aldate’s.

The widow Mrs Jane Edgecumbe then moved from Linden House (now the Priory) and rented Church House in the early 1880s. She bought the house for £370 in 1883, and made improvements to it, as reported in the Oxford Chronicle for 11 October 1884 (p. 7f):

The old Church House, at Headington, has had recent additions and alterations, and now forms a compact residence for Mrs. Edgecombe. Mr. J. Ward, builder, 7 Pembroke street, St. Aldate’s, executed the work from the designs of Mr. H. J. Tollit, architect.

Mrs Edgecumbe enfranchised Church House in 1891, and continued to live there until 1895. Her daughter, Miss Edgecumbe, still lived there in 1910. According to Within Living Memory, Mr & Mrs Surman then lived in the house: they are not listed in directories, but may have rented it.

From 1915 to 1925 Church House was occupied by the retired schoolmaster Herbert Field and his wife (just Mrs Field from 1921). Mrs Field’s son by her first husband, Alan Young, died in the First World War during this period. Herbert Field died at the age of 63 and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 8 February 1919. Mrs Maria Burrell Field remained in Church House until 1925.

Sir Charles Nicholson, 2nd Baronet, who was a famous church architect, then bought the house, but at first he and Lady Nicholson let it out to Mrs Sandy. He and his second wife Catherine Maud Warren moved in themselves in 1931. He died there on 4 March 1949, and his widow Lady Nicholson remained in the house until 1962.

Stephen Earl is listed in Kelly's Directory at the house from 1964, and Quentin S. Earl from 1967 to 1976.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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