Headington history: Listed Buildings/Structures

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Manor Farmhouse, Dunstan Road

Manor Farm

List entry for Manor Farmhouse: 1369368
List entry for Manor Farmhouse garden wall: 1047295

This farmhouse has had three addresses: Marston Lane prior to 1885,
Cemetery Lane after Headington Cemetery opened in 1885; and Dunstan Road from 1939

From about 1802, when the Lord of the Manor of Headington moved away from Holton and turned Sir Banks Jenkinson’s former large home to the south of the farm his Manor House, this adjoining farm became known as Manor Farm. Its farmhouse (above) dates from the seventeenth century, but is much altered. In 1939 the farmhouse was described thus by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England:

(273) Manor Farm, house 350 yards W.N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 17th century but has been much altered. Inside the building, the dining-room has an original stone fireplace with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head; on the N. side is an original partition of panelled framing. There is a second fireplace, of similar character, on the first floor. Some irregularities in the field S.E. of the house are marked Palace on the O.S. Condition—Good.

The garden of Manor Farm extended over the present Ethelred Court, while its farmland stretched over part of the John Radcliffe Hospital grounds and the Copse Lane area. It was a working farm until the 1920s, and people of Old Headington came here to get their milk. Its farmhouse was then sold as a private house and the farmland was rented out and eventually developed.

The farmhouse was substantially altered in 1936/7 by Colonel Richard Hartley Rose-Innes, who added the two wings to the west, designed by Collcutt & Hamp and built by Benfield & Loxley (Plan No. 8121 in Oxford City Archives). Rose-Innes's arms (described by Historic England as depicting three molets and a Border checky) are over the new porch.

Manor Farm was already known as Holly’s Farm when on 8 December 1806 the Lord of the Manor Thomas Whorwood took out a mortgage on both the farm and the Manor House itself with William Fletcher and John Parsons of Oxford, bankers. The farm was then 320 acres in size, as this advertisement which appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 3 January 1807 shows:

Manor Farm to let in 1807

The tenant farmer by whose name the Manor Farm was known for many years was Thomas Holley, who married Mary Godfrey at St Andrew’s Church on 30 May 1789. Thomas received just over seven acres to the north of Old Headington village in the Headington Enclosure Award of 1804, and his wife Mary was granted 48 acres of the Quarry field and a 4-acre meadow below Barton. Mary Holley died at the age of 70 in 1832, and Thomas Holley at the age of 76 in early 1835.

Following the death on 24 October 1806 of Henry Mayne Whorwood, Lord of the Manor, all his farming stock was put up for auction: this included 150 ewes and lambs, seventy fat sheep fit for the butcher, four oxen, eight heifers, and over forty pigs, two waggons, a dung cart, a market cart, a winnowing machine, ploughs, and harrows.

A new tenant farmer must have taken over in about 1821, as on 27 July 1833 the following advertisement appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

A very superior STOCK FARM,
In a high state of Cultivation (having been in the hands of the Proprietor for the last 12 years), with the privilege of SPORTING over three Manors.
TO be LET, and entered upon on the 29th day of September next,— Headington Manor Farm, consisting of a Farm House, with the usual Farm Buildings, and about 320 Acres of Arable and Pasture Land, within a ring fence. The greater part of the Arable Land consists of black sand and deep loam; and the Farm is situated within one mile of the City of Oxford….

On 28 September 1833 there was an advertisement for the auction of all the stock at the farm, including 246 long-woolled ewes, 198 lambs, 72 meaty shearhogs, fourteen cart horse, eight cows, and 20 pigs, as well as all the farm machinery.

The farmhouse and its remaining 73 acres were still known as Holley’s Farm when they were put up for auction by the Lord of the Manor (the Revd Thomas Henry Whorwood) at the Angel Hotel in Oxford on 3 August 1836.

The next short-lived tenant was Richard Young. On 30 August 1834 Jackson's Oxford Journal announced that he was leaving the farm and advertised a forthcoming auction of all his farming stock. The lots comprised live and dead farming stock including c.500 superior long-woolled sheep and lambs (including 100 fat shearhogs); 28 young cows, heifers, and sturks, and a two-year-old bull; 26 useful and promising cart horses, mares and colts; six sows and pigs and in-pig ditto; 18 fine stores; 5 waggons; 4 dung carts, and 1 market ditto; ploughs, harrows, drags, and rolls, sets of good harness, hurdles, sheep cages, cow racks, 9 good rick stadles, winnowing machine, and barn implements; young poultry fowls, ducks, turkeys etc; ricks of corn and hay, and implements

In 1836 the Lords of the Manor of Headington put the Manor up for sale, including Manor Farm, named Holly's Farm, marked in green on the auction map below. The tenant of the farm was then a Mr Smith.

Plan of Manor Farm in 1836

Above: detail from the “Plan of the Headington Estate” in the auction catalogue of 1836 (which covered the sale of the whole of Headington Manor). The 73  acres of Holly’s (Manor) Farm are outlined in green. Manor Farmhouse itself is in the area marked “Homestall” (to the south of Mr Latimer’s land, which is now Headington Cemetery).

Bellow: the description of the farm from the auction catalogue:

Description of the farm

It appears that the farm did not sell in 1836.

At the time of the 1841 census Daniel Bolton appears to have been the tenant farmer of Manor Farm: he was described as being a farmer at the west end of the village.

On 3 October 1846 the following notice of another auction of the farm was inserted in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

Notice of Sale of the division into small desirable Farms.
Several valuable Inclosures of first-rate LAND, and also eligible
Building and Garden Ditto, of the
Freehold, Tithe Free, and Land Tax redeemed, within half
a mile of the University and City of Oxford
By Messrs. T. MALLAM & son,

At the Mitre Hotel, Oxford, on Wednesday the 28th day of October, 1846, at Two o'clock. This extremely valuable Estate contains 163A. 3R. 11P., and will be divided into twelve lots, viz.:—The Farm House, Homestead, and Buildings, together 57A. 2R. 4P. of capital Arable and Pasture Land; a compact Farm adjoining, of 42A. 2R. 2P.; a Ditto of 21A. 1R. 37P.; and 10 other lots admirable adapted for occupation, building, and garden purposes, commanding most delightful views, and intersected by good roads, varying from One Acre and a Half, to 14 Acres, in a lot.

In 1849 William Peppercorn, the solicitor acting for Whorwood in the sale, bought much of the manor, including Manor Farm, as well as the manorial rights. In this year Moses Brooks was the occupier of the farm, and he is listed as such In the Headington Rent-Book of 1850 (with William Peppercorn still the owner). The farm’s rateable value was then £189.14s.8d, and its estimated extent was just over 120 acres (57 acres larger than it had been at the time of the 1836 sale). On 4 August 1860 Jackson's Oxford Journal advertised an auction of the following property of Moses Brooks, who was leaving the farm:

Manor Farm notice of property sale 4 August 1860

On 27 May 1865 John Plowman junior, the tenant of Manor Farm advertised for "a strong young man, as GENERAL SERVANT, who is able partly to undertake the management of a dairy”.

In 1867 Emilius Watson-Taylor (b. 1819) of Thurston Hall, Northants bought Manor Farm at the same time as the Manor House. He died near the beginning of 1879, and his sister Miss Isabella Watson-Taylor became the owner of the Manor House and Farm. In September 1888 she ordered the sale of live and dead farming stock there.

From 1890 to 1892 John Hartwell farmed Manor Farm, and he and his wife are listed here in the 1891 census. The farm's owner, Miss Watson-Taylor, died in 1892.

John Wiggins (a relation of Hartwell), a corn merchant and baker of Market Street, Oxford farmed here from 1893 to 1906. Jackson's Oxford Journal reported on 1 June 1895 that a fire caused by a spark from an engine driving chaff-cutting machinery had set fire to a large barnsome 50 feet by 18 feet, and that it was burnt out because there was no water available when the steamer and fire brigade arrived. Just four years later on 26 August 1899 it reported another serious fire at a barn there, and once again the fact that the nearest water supply was at Bayswater Mill caused problems:

Fire at Manor Farm

At the time of the 1901 census, one part of the the farmhouse was occupied by John Turvey (49), a farm bailiff, and his wife Harriet (56), and the other part by a housekeeper, Elizabeth Busby (40), and three Wiggins children, each described as “Master’s child”: Harry  (7), Winifred (6), and Harold (4). This implies that John and Emily Wiggins still had the tenancy of the farm, but they were working as bakers and corn dealers in Oxford and living at 6 Market Street with three of their older children. (Unfortunately, however, at the time of the 1911 census John Wiggins was in Oxford Prison for stealing corn from Hall’s Brewery.)

In 1906 Colonel James Hoole bought Manor Farm and the Lordship of the Manor from William Peppercorn’s estate at the same time as he bought the Manor House (which he had been renting) from the Watson-Taylors.

At the time of the 1911 census the only occupants of Manor Farm were the housekeeper Edith Ethel Morris (22) and a housemaid.

The farm ceased to operate in the 1920s, and Manor Farmhouse became a private house. At first its farmland was used for extra pasture by Tom White, whose father William farmed Wood Farm, but it was soon developed: Copse Lane and Derwent Avenue now cover Bushy Close, while Coniston and Bowness Avenues lie in the Great Head-lay field.

Private occupants of Manor Farmhouse
  • Arthur Sanctuary lived in the farmhouse from 1926 to 1932.
  • Colonel Richard Hartley Rose-Innes, who had been appointed Honorary Surgeon at the Radcliffe Infirmary, then bought the house and he added the two wings to the west. He lived there from 1933 to 1940, returning to his native South Africa after he contracted tuberculosis: obituary.
  • Frederick & Molly MacGarvey had bought the house by 1943, and lived there until about 1965. It then appears to have been let, as Kelly’s Directory lists George Gibson there in 1966 and E. Gibson in 1967. Mrs MacGarvey sold the house in 1968, and by 1969 Ethelred Court was built on part of its very large garden.
  • Philip Diplock is listed at Manor Farmhouse from 1968 to 1970, and M. Diplock from 1972 to 1973.
  • By 1975 the house was occupied by Eric C. Oak, and he was still there in 1980.

Manor Farm from Dunstan Road


Left: Manor Farmhouse as seen
from Dunstan Road




Memories of
Manor Farmhouse
in the 1960s and 1970s

The Holley/Holly family of Headington

This family lived in the above farmhouse and farmed Manor Farm (then Holl[e]y Farm)
in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

A Benjamin Holley was buried in St Andrew's churchyard on 24 December 1712, and a Thomas Holley on 19 September 1721.

Between 1721 and 1736 another Thomas Holley had eight children baptised at St Andrew’s Church: Richard (1720/1; one of that name buried in 1738 and 1745), Mary (1723, prob. buried 1724 or 1740), Martha (1724/5), Thomas (1726, prob. buried 1729), Elizabeth (1728), Catherine (1731/2), Joseph (1732), and Ann (1736); the Benjamin Holley buried in 1737 may also be his son. He is probably the person called Thomas Holley who was buried in St Andrew’s churchyard on 8 February 1759. On 9 March 1752 his daughter Catherine married Thomas Godfrey in Trinity College Chapel.

Joseph Holley (the son of Thomas Holley senior baptised at St Andrew's on 7 June 1734) married Mary Godfrey at St Andrew’s Church on 28 June 1756. (IBenjamiin Holley, described as the son of Joseph, was buried there on 3 February 1861, and Mary Holley, described as the widow of Joseph, was buried there the following month. This implies there were two men at this time called Joseph Holley, as one of that name died at the age of 69 and was buried in the churchyard on 28 March 1803.

had at least two sons, Thomas Holley junior. Joseph was a farmer, possibly both here at Manor Farm, and at Church Hill Farm in St Andrew's Lane from 1769, when Miss Ann Griffin conveyed its copyhold to Joseph.

Thomas Holley junior (b. 1758), definitely farmed Manor Farm, and by 1804 was known as Holl[e]y's Farm. He married another Mary Godfrey (the daughter of Henry & Mary Godfrey baptised at St Andrew’s on 12 September 1762) in Headington on 30 May 1789. They had two daughters baptised at St Andrew's Church: Ann on 28 October 1792 and Mary on 17 November 1793 (buried the following month on 29 December); but six other infants who do not appear to have been baptised were buried in Headington between 1793 and 1815, and may well be more of their children. Ann Holley may have lived to adulthood, as someone of that name married Charles Browne of Holywell in Headington in 1815.

Thomas Holley received just over seven acres to the north of Old Headington village in the Headington Enclosure Award of 1804, while his wife Mary was granted 48 acres of the Quarry field and a 4-acre meadow below Barton. By 1806 he had already taken over Manor Farm.

In 1820 Thomas Holley and his wife Mary sold the nearby Church Hill Farm (whose farmhouse was at 4 St Andrew's Lane) to Charles Browne of Hanborough. They do not appear to have farmed here themselves, but let it to tenants.

Mary Holley, the wife of Thomas junior, died at Manor Farm at the age of 70 in 1832, and Thomas Holley at the age of 76 in early 1835.On 14 February 1835 Jackson's Oxford Journal announced an auction to be held by Mallam's on the premises of all his household furniture and effects, including “four-post, tent, and other bedsteads and furniture; excellent feather beds and bedding; mahogany and walnut-tree double chests of drawers, bureaus, dining and other tables, carpets, chairs, good eight-day clock and case, handsome set of modern china, linen, kitchen requisites, and other effects”

Thomas’s brother Benjamin Holley and his wife Martha had nine children baptised in Headington: Elizabeth (1805), Thomas (1806), Ann (1808), Mary (1810), Sarah (1813), Amy (1815), Catherine (1817), William (1818), and Eliza (1822). Benjamin is first described as a baker, then as a miller, and finally as a shopkeeper.

On 15 February 1847 at the Court of the Manor of Heddington, “The Homage present that Elizabeth BOSTALL Spinster whose death was presented 21st August 1837 by her Will devised to:

Richard GODFREY of All Saints Oxford Baker all my copyhold estate situate in the Croft in the Parish of Headington [8 The Croft] and now in the occupation of Thomas HOLLY subject to payment of a legacy of £20 by the said Richard GODFREY to pay to his aunt Elizabeth ALLEN in 12 months free of legal duty.”

This shows that the Godfrey and Holley families were still closely linked.

Holley Crescent in Headington is named after this family

© Stephanie Jenkins

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