Headington Lodge (White Lodge & Sandy Lodge), Osler Road
White Lodge in Osler Road (above) is the south wing of the mansion that was known as Headington Lodge. The main part of the mansion to the north is now known as Sandy Lodge.
In the late 1700s the brewer Edward Tawney (1735–1800) built a “gentleman’s farmhouse” in the Croft (Osler Road did not exist until 1802). On his death in 1800 he left that farmhouse to his cousin’s daughter, Mrs Ann Wharton (née Tawney), with instructions that it should go to her eldest son Theophilus Wharton after her death. The Headington Enclosure Award map of 1805 shows that Mrs Wharton’s house was on the site of White/Sandy Lodge.
That Enclosure Award of 1805 granted Theophilus Wharton (1778–1831) all the land to the east of Osler Road as far as the turning into the Croft, excluding the house owned by his mother:
One Plot of Land or ground numbered 63 containing five acres one rood and twenty eight perches situate in Pound Field bounded on the North by the allotment numbered 63(a) on part of the South East and on the North East by the House and premises of Mrs Wharton on the remaining part of the South East by the allotment numbered 62 [Headington House] on the South by the Road numbered I [London Road] and on the North West by the Road numbered VIII [Osler Road]
Theophilus Wharton inherited his mother’s farmhouse on his mother’s death in 1824, and lived in the farmhouse with his brother Bryan (1782–1839).
Jackson's Oxford Journal of 28 May 1825 describes an alarming fire that broke out at the farm on Saturday 21 May, caused by a lad firing off a gun in the yard, the wadding from which set fire to some straw. The fire spread to the thatch of an adjoining outhouse, and then to the barn and the pigsties, and the farmhouse was at one time in imminent danger. The total loss, which amounted to £700, was covered by insurance. The newspaper report states, “The farm house was at one time in imminent danger, and was only preserved by the active exertions of the persons present. It is a tribute due to many Gentlemen of the University and others to state their exertions on the occasion were unceasing; we wish we could say as much of some of the lower orders, who seemed more intent on looking after liquor than assisting in extinguishing the flames.”
Neither of the Wharton brothers was married at this time, and it was probably soon after this fire that they converted the farmhouse into the regency villa it is today. It was originally known as Headington Lodge, and its main entrance was in Osler Road, where its own little lodge (or gatehouse) still stands to the south, beside Cuckoo Lane. The present house called Greenways is in part of what was Wharton’s garden.
On 2 July 1829 at St Andrew's Church, Pershore, Worcester, Brian Wharton married Catharine Grape (the sister of Mary Grape who had married the current Lord of the Manor of Headington, Thomas Henry Whorwood, in 1807).
Theophilus Wharton died at the age of 52 on 21 October 1831, and his brother Brian was obliged to move out with his wife: their furniture was advertised for auction by Mallam's in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 26 November 1831. Brian died in Headington at the age of 57 in August 1839 and was buried in St Andrew's Church. His wife Catharine returned to Worcestershire.
This detail from the 1899 map of Headington (right) shows Headington Lodge, with its garden stretching from the Croft to the north and Cuckoo Lane to the south. Its western boundary is Osler Road, and to the east is its next-door neighbour, Headington House.
Its former lodge (below) is shown in the south-west corner of the map: it is now 38 Osler Road.
Theophilus Wharton left Headington Lodge to his nephew Mark Theophilus Morrell. He died at the age of 29 in 1842 and the house then passed to his cousin, Charles Tawney. Charles (1780–1853) was a partner in the Hall & Tawney Brewery and had been Mayor of Oxford in 1837 and 1840. His town home was Brewery House in Paradise Street, Oxford, but he must have used this house as his country retreat, as the Headington Rent-Book for December 1850 shows him as both owner and occupier at this time. Its rateable value was then £58.5s.0d, and its estimated extent just over 5 acres.
Charles Tawney died in 1853 and his wife in 1854, and their children, Henry Copland Tawney and Mrs Elizabeth Copland Fisher (husband of the surgeon Thomas Richard Fisher) inherited the house.
Between 1861 and 1902 Headington Lodge was let out to various people: Mrs Williams was there in 1861, the Misses Hillderson in 1862–3, and John Martin, a retired storekeeper from Portsmouth Dockyard in 1871.
The following advertisement for the letting of the house appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 20 July 1872:
TO be LET (with early possession), at Headington, near Oxford,—A very convenient and pleasantly-situated DWELLING HOUSE and PREMISES, known as “HEADINGTON LODGE, with extensive pleasure grounds, two large kitchen gardens, poultry yard, stables, coach-house, &c.; there are three reception rooms, seven bed rooms, two dressing rooms, kitchen, butler's pantry, store room, and summer-house. The gardens and grounds are all enclosed, and well stocked with fruit and other trees. There is a lodge at the entrance, a good supply of water, and the situation is one of the healthiest and best in the neighbourhood.
George Crunwell was the occupier of the house in 1875, and his death there on 2 May 1876 was reported in Jackson's Oxford Journal,
Colonel (later Major General) John Desborough lived at Headington Lodge from 1877 to 1883, while he rebuilt The Priory). In 1881 the mansion was bought by William Wootten-Wootten of Headington House, who continued to let it out. His widow gave it to their son Montague Wootten-Wootten on his marriage in 1888, but initially he continued to live in St Giles.
Frederick Evans rented the house from 1890 to 1895, and Mrs Burch in 1896–7.
By the time of the 1901 census the whole house had become known as White Lodge rather than Headington Lodge, and Montague Wootten is listed here at the age of (48) was living there with his wife Mary and three-year-old son Kenneth: they were looked after by six indoor servants, with their gardener living in the lodge. Eight years later, in 1909, Montague Wootten committed suicide in this house as a result of financial problems: he was a partner of Parsons, Thomson & Co. (Barclays) at the Old Bank in Oxford’s High Street.
Left: Edwardian postcard of Headington Lodge reproduced by permission of Jeremy’s of Oxford. The family is likely to be the Wootten-Woottens
From 1910 to 1914 the house was leased by a Mrs Newall or Newhall.
The next lessee, Miss MacGregor, founded Headington School in this house. It was opened by the Bishop of Liverpool in 1915 with ten boarders and eight day-girls. By 1918 the school had transferred to Brookside.
In 1920 The Lodge was bought from Montague Wootten-Wootten’s estate by Edwin J. Hall, who lived in Clifton House on the London Road and built the cinema in New High Street in his garden.
Hall divided it into the two separate houses it is today, naming them White Lodge and Sandy Lodge, and let them out to Walter Smith and Raymond Holmes respectively.
The novelist Elizabeth Bowen lived at White Lodge from 1960 to 1965: she is listed in directories under her married name of Mrs. A. Cameron.