Headington history: Miscellaneous

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Origins of Headington Street Names

Note: The origin of some of the street names below has been deduced, as it is surprisingly difficult to get definitive information about them.

Named after families or individuals

Local families

  • Many major landowners listed in the Headington Enclosure Award have given their names to Headington streets, including the Latimers of Headington House; the Finches of the Rookery; the Morrells and Whartons of Headington Hill Hall and Headington Lodge respectively; the Burrows family of Southfield Farm; the Holleys of Holley Farm; and the Fortnams. These are remembered in Latimer Road, Finch Close, Mather Road, Morrell Avenue, Wharton Road, Burrows Close, Holley Crescent, and Fortnam Close.
  • Equally honoured, however, are many Headington families who would have been employed by those landowners as servants and agricultural labourers: hence (with the date the surname first appears in Headington parish registers) Bateman Street (1738), Bushnell Close (1697), Cooper Place (1758), Coppock Close (1773), Gardiner Street (1726), Gurden Place (1681), Gurl Close (1806), Slaymaker Close (1778) and Trafford Road (1717).
  • With some street names, it is difficult to tell whether they commemorate a local family or an individual (or indeed both). Hedges Close, for example, could refer to the Hedges family (baptisms from 1769), or to William Hedges, who lived in Barton Manor.
  • Horwood Close was named after the Headington man who built it, leaving the Whorwoods who were Lords of the Manor of Headington from 1613 to 1849 unremembered. The earlier Lords of the Manor are however commemorated in Barton with Brome Place, Wilcote Road,and Bassett Road, and a later Lord of the Manor in Wood Farm with Peppercorn Avenue.
  • North Place is presumably named after John North, the market gardener who built 29 Old High Street.

Councillors, Mayors, Prime Ministers

  • Mark Road and Weyland Road were probably named after Captain Mark Ulick Weyland, Chairman of Headington Rural District Council in 1927/8 (the only year of its existence); in which case Franklin Road is likely to have been named after A. H. Franklin, Chairman of Headington Urban District Council for its two-year existence (1928/9 and 1929/30), who lived in Headington House (rather than after the Oxford Mayor Jeremy Franklin).
  • For a group of Mayors of Oxford in one area, see “Themed Names” below. There are other stray Mayors: in Wood Farm there are William Chillingworth in Chillingworth Crescent and Robert Pauling in Pauling Road; and Northway honours the Lord Mayor of 1978/9, Dora Carr, in Dora Carr Close and the Mayor of 1843/4 Harry Ingle in Ingle Close. Near Girdlestone Road, Flexney Place is probably named after Ralph Flexney I and/or Ralph Flexney II, who both served as Mayor. Less certain is whether Langley Close off Windmill Road is named after Matthew Langley.
  • Sir Thomas Stapleton (Tory MP for Oxford, 1759–1761) gives his name to Stapleton Road; while Bickerton Road commemorates Joseph Jones Bickerton, a well-known Oxford Town Clerk and Liberal councillor who died in 1894 and who had purchased some of the land of Highfield Farm.
  • For prime ministers, see “Themed Names” below. William Gladstone and William Pitt appear in Gladstone Road and Pitts Road (although some prefer to believe that the latter name had more to do with the nearby quarries).


  • Osler Road, the new name for Manor Road, remembers the famous physician Sir William Osler, and came via the name of the Osler pavilion which once stood on the John Radcliffe site.
  • A famous orthopaedic surgeon, Gathorne Girdlestone, provided names for both Gathorne Road and Girdlestone Road (although he would probably not have been pleased, as he refused to allow the Wingfield Hospital to bear his name).
  • Dr J. S. Stansfeld, who founded what is now the Stansfeld Outdoor Centre on the corner of Quarry Road, is remembered in Stansfeld Place (and possibly also in the variant Stansfield Close).
  • Acland Close is named after the well-known Oxford doctor Henry Acland
  • Bracegirdle Road is named after Dr Bracegirdle, the physician who erected a mounting stone at the foot of Shotover Hill.
  • Feilden Grove is named after Katharine Feilden, who paid for the original hospital that became the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre.


  • Palmer Road is named after James Palmer, the curate of St Andrew’s, who in 1805 wrote to the Bishop of Oxford saying, “The inhabitants of Quarry now say that as they are to be deprived of their funeral path, they will not come to Church at all, but intend to have a Methodist preacher come to them.”
  • Perrin Street is named after the Revd Howard Nasmith Perrin, who from 1905 to 1910 was Priest in Charge of All Saints’ mission chapel in that street, and was responsible for the building of the later nave of the present All Saints’ Church.
  • Wilberforce Street is probably named after the nineteenth-century Bishop of Oxford Samuel Wilberforce.

Other individuals

  • Ethelred Close was named after King Ethelred, Headington’s earliest known inhabitant, while the adjacent Dunstan Road recalls St Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury who helped to get him on the throne.
  • Holyoake Road ultimately takes its name from George Jacob Holyoake, an important man in the Co-op movement. He died in 1906, and the following year Headington Co-op built Holyoake Terrace (which in 1938 was demolished to make way for Holyoake Hall, the dance-hall that became a snooker club and is now flats). The road was named after the hall.
  • Lewis Close in Risinghurst is named after C.S. Lewis, whose former home, the Kilns, stands at the end of that road
  • Henry Taunt Close in Barton is named after the famous Oxford photographer Henry Taunt.
  • Pether Road is named after the nineteenth-century-farmer at Wood Farm, Richard Pether. His daughter married Frederick Morris, and their famous son William Morris spent the early part of his life at Wood Farm. William Morris himself is commemorated by his title of Lord Nuffield in Nuffield Road.
  • Pullen’s Lane is named after the Revd Josiah Pullen.
  • In Sandhills, Terrett Avenue is named after Joseph S. Terrett, Headmaster of Forest Hill with Shotover (Sandhills) School in the 1950s, and Bursill Close after Mrs S. M. Bursill, who lived in Headington Hall in Sandhills in the 1950s.
  • Fifteenth-century Headington quarrymen, whose names are preserved in the accounts of Merton College, were dug up for Norton Close, Piper Street and Kennett Road.
  • Cinnaminta Road is named after the beautiful gipsy girl Cinnaminta whose family used to camp off the Slade (as described in R. D. Blackmore, Cripps the Carrier, published in 1876).

Little Oxford estate

This estate built in the early 1990s necessitated the naming of five new roads, and local subjects were chosen, but without a coherent theme:

  • Acland Close is named after Sir Henry Acland, a former Regius Professor of Medicine
  • Demesne Furze is the ancient name of the whole area, mentioned in the Headington Enclosure Award
  • Mileway Gardens recalls the the 1667 mileway stone in Old Road
  • Skene Close is named after the Oxford prison reformer Felicia Skene, who has a blue plaque in St Michael's Street
  • Roosevelt Drive is named after an American President, in honour of the adjacent American Hospital, now the Churchill, which opened in 1941

Full names

A recent informal trend is to use the person’s full name, which makes identification much easier:

  • Cecil Sharp Place off Lime Walk and William Kimber Crescent off Gladstone Road recall the famous meeting in Headington of Cecil Sharp and William Kimber that led to the revival of English morris-dancing
  • John Garne Way off the Marston Road is named after John Garne, the Chief Education Officer of Oxfordshire County Council who supervised the amalgamation of the city and council education services in 1974. He died in 2004 around the time this road was created.
  • John Snow Place in Quarry is named after the well-known nineteenth-century local mason John Snow
  • Joan Lawrence Place in Wood Farm is named after Joan Lawrence (died 1988), who was the head teacher at the Slade Nursery School for thirty years
  • William Orchard Close in Old Headington remembers William Orchard, the architect of Magdalen College chapel and cloister, who lived in Barton and died in 1504
  • Douglas Downes Close off Quary Road presumably remembers the Oxford economics tutor Douglas Downes who went on the roads during the depression to help the homeless.
  • John Buchan Road in Northway is named after the author John Buchan, who lived across the fields in Elsfield from 1919 to 1935

Themed names on newer estates


The former Between Towns’ Field has the following trees:

  • Ash Grove
  • Blackthorn Close
  • Chestnut Avenue
  • Hawthorn Avenue.


The “lake district” comprises:

  • Ambleside Road
  • Bowness Avenue
  • Coniston Avenue
  • Derwent Avenue.

Members of Parliament

The Gipsy Lane estate boasts no fewer than five Oxford MPs:

  • Cardwell Crescent after Edward Cardwell (Liberal MP 1853–1874)
  • Grays Road after Frank Gray (Liberal MP in the 1920s and founder of the Oxford Mail)
  • Harcourt Terrace after Sir William Harcourt (Liberal MP 1868–1880)
  • Stonor Place after Thomas Stonor (Roman Catholic Whig MP of the 1830s)
  • Valentia Road after Viscount Valentia (Conservative MP 1895–1917).


Oxford Mayors are well represented in Barton:

college heads and founders

The roads on the east side of Barton have college associations:

  • Waynflete Road after William Waynflete (c.1398–1496), founder of Magdalen College
  • Routh Road after Martin Routh (1755–1854), President of Magdalen College
  • Claymond Road after John Claymond (1468–1537), President of Magdalen College
  • Humfrey Road after Laurence Humfrey (d.1588), President of Magdalen College
  • Mather Road after John Mather (1676–1748), President of Corpus Christi College
  • Malford Road after Richard Malford, Warden of New College
  • Cranley Road after Thomas Cranley, Warden of New College.

Descriptive names

Many old street names of Headington have been obliterated, as they tended to be so obvious that they were repeated in other parts of Oxford: these include “Church Street”, “High Street”, and Manor Road.

  • Obvious names that survive include Wood Farm Road (because the estate occupies the site of the former farm of that name) and Titup Hall Drive (after Titup Hall, which used to be on the site of the Crown & Thistle pub).
  • Stile Road crosses the point where there was a stile on the old diagonal footpath from Quarry
  • Nursery Close and Mattock Close were built on the former Ryman’s and Mattock’s nurseries
  • Brookside used to be an obvious name – until the adjoining Boundary Brook was diverted underground.
  • Others street are named after old Headington field names, such as Sandfield Road, Highfield Avenue, and Southfield Road; while Bulan Road and Dene Road share the name of a field called Bulandene.
  • Cheney Lane is an old name, perhaps referring to a chain across the road. If so, this chain could date from the time when the lane was an important section of the old Turnpike Road to London.

  • Leiden Road is named after Oxford’s Dutch twin.


Other names defy categorization:

  • Is Coolidge Close really named after an American Fellow of Magdalen who was an authority on the Alps?
  • Was the Margaret of Margaret Road really the fifteenth-century Queen Margaret of Anjou (as stated in Oxford Street Names Explained), and if so, why?
  • Who or what were Binswood, Calcot, Larkin, Lyndworth, Palmer, or Staunton?
  • Is the Windsor of Windsor Street a palace or a person?

Lord Valentia
The eponymous Lord Valentia of Valentia Road

List of name-changes made to Headington streets

Marston street names

© Stephanie Jenkins

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