Lower Farm, 8 Dunstan Road
Lower Farm is at 8 Dunstan Road. The land occupied by the farm was awarded to Mary Jones of Headington House under the Headington Enclosure Award of 1804 (Plots 72, 73, and 74). She left the land to Edward & Elizabeth Latimer in 1815, and Edward in turn appears to have left it to his eldest daughter, Miss Mary Latimer (1800–1891) in 1845. It then came into the hands of William Wootten-Undershell (later William Wootten-Wootten), the man who had bought Headington House in 1848.
Lower Farmhouse has been said to date from around 1800, but there is no evidence from any census of a substantial building in this area, apart from Manor Farm just across the road. It appears from Edward Latimer’s will that Lower Farm was probably known as Phillips Farm until the 1840s, and that from then until c.1860 its land was rented out to John Tew (a farmer of 140 acres as well as a victualler) who lived at the White Hart. It seems likely that the present house was built in the second half of the nineteenth century, absorbing an earlier building.
By 1876, the Wootten-Woottens were renting the farmhouse out to a butcher, Isaac Solloway, who had moved to Headington from Summertown in about 1870, and had initially lived in Old High Street (probably Laurel Farm). He had ten children by his first wife, Mary, and the last three were born in Headington.* The 1881 census shows his eldest son William (23), a butcher, temporarily in charge of Lower Farm and his nine siblings (ranging in age from 9 to 24) and just one 21-year-old domestic servant. His sisters Annie (24) and Harriet (21), and his brother Frederick (17), are all described as butcher’s assistants.
The following advertisement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 11 August 1888:
In about 1890 Solloway married his second wife, Sarah Mathilda Cannon Coltman of Thame, and the whole family moved away from Headington: the 1891 census entry for Lower Farm reads: “Late Solloway: 1 uninhabited”.
Ten years later in the 1901 census there is no listing at all for Lower Farm, implying that the house was empty and the lands rented, perhaps by the famer at Manor Farm.
From 1906 Lower Farm was rented out to another butcher, Harry Edward Berry, who had a shop in Old High Street and was a son of the well-known family of bakers in St Andrew’s Road. The 1911 census shows Harry (36) and his wife Alice (35) living there with their three children. Harry is described as a “Family butcher & farmer”.
Joseph Stowe of West Lodge (6 Dunstan Road) bought the farm in 1912, and until his death in 1926 he continued to rent it out to Harry Berry.
Harry Edward Berry bought Lower Farm at an auction held at the Randolph Hotel in Oxford in July 1926, together with its 65 acres of land which stretched across the present bypass towards Elsfield.
In 1951/2 some of the farm’s land was compulsorily purchased from Berry to build the Northway Estate.
Berry died in about 1957, and his widow Mrs Alice Berry continued living at Lower Farm. Then from 1962 to 1976 John Henry Berry, their eldest son, is listed as the occupant in directories.
* Solloway’s ninth child, Matilda Cayns (or Raynes) Solloway, was baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 4 September 1879. His daughter Harriet (21) was married there in 1881; his son Albert (23) in 1885; and his daughter Miriam Maud in 1887.
After moving away from Headington, Solloway had three more children by his second marriage: Isaac (c.1890), Lilian (1894), and Violet (1899). According to Violet’s great-granddaughter, Clare Barclay, Isaac Solloway was a great supporter of Gladstone’s campaign in 1893 for home rule for Ireland, and family lore says that he placed ribbons on all of his beef delivery wagons. As a result, he lost his lucrative supply contracts with the University of Oxford, and his business went under in the mid-1890s. There was nothing to leave his ten older children, and his second wife had died giving birth to Violet in 1899. He placed his three youngest children in a Catholic orphanage (the family, although of Irish descent, was Protestant), and he ended his days dying of tuberculosis in a poor house.
Below: Lower Farm in c.2000, before renovation