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Headington history: Streets

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New Headington Village


The original New Headington village comprised just the following streets:

The following road was not laid out until 1927, filling in the L-shape of the old village:

New Headington village was built on a piece of land with access from both the London Road and Windmill Road. This land had belonged to the Latimer family of Headington House, but when Edward Latimer died in 1845 his executors were required to sell his house and land. Lot 3 of the auction at the Star Hotel in Cornmarket on 1 July 1848, was to become New Headington village:

All that PIECE of highly-cultivated FREEHOLD ARABLE LAND, bounded on the north by the turnpike road leading from Oxford to London, and on the east by the road leading from the Headington Turnpike Gate to Bullendon Green and Cowley [Windmill Road], belted on the north and east by a thriving plantation, and admirably adapted for the erection of Villas, containing, by admeasurement, 10A.1R, 30P.

This L-shaped piece of land was bought by William Mead Warner, a gentleman from Banbury, who planned to build a brand new village here. Its unusual shape was dictated by the face that the Revd William Latimer retained a large piece of land next to Windmill Lane, which then had no houses apart from the miller's cottage: this was later occupied by the north-east part of Windmill Road and the whole of Kennett Road with its long back gardens.

On 21 May 1851 the following advertisement appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

New Headington village

By November that year the roads of New Headington village had all been laid out, as this plan dated 4 November 1851 (with North to the left) shows:

1851 indenture

Eight plots are marked out on the south side of Bateman Street, and eight on the north side of Windsor Street. This plan belongs to an indenture of 1852 relating to 21 Windsor Street, and in the event only the plots for that house and 31 Bateman Street were sold at this date.

On 25 July 1852 the auctioneer Frederick King advertised another auction, this time of 70 plots, with the finest spring water obtainable on all the lots, and freestone and brick in great abundance obtainable within half a mile “at extremely low prices”.

On 12 March 1853 the owner himself, William Mead Warner advertised fifty lots to be sold by private contract or let on building lease, to encourage sales. He was still hoping for villas rather than workers' cottages, stating that the plots were :

suitable for detached or semi-detached SUBURBAN RESIDENCES, with large Gardens and drying Grounds, most delightfully situated on HEADINGTON HILL, quite above the miasma and fogs arising from the streams and floods of Oxford—a clean,. dry, healthy, sandy soil, with the purest air and water.

Right from the start, the village was called New Headington, and thenceforth the original village of Headington began to to be known as Old Headington.

At the south end of New High Street and the adjoining streets in what people began to call “The Square”, some humble cottages were built, and laundresses began to move in.

On 13 May 1854 three cottages at the bottom of Perrin Street, already tenanted, were advertised for sale.

On 27 May 1854 seven more cottages, owned by George Snow and again already tenanted, were advertised for auction:

SEVEN NEWLY-BUILT FREEHOLD COTTAGES AND GARDENS,
AT NEW HEADINGTON, NEAR OXFORD

Lot 1.—A Stone-built HOUSE, in the occupation of Mr. Merry, containing sitting room, back kitchen, pantry, and two bed rooms, with a large piece of garden.

Lot 2.—TWO HOUSES, in the occupation of Mr. Snow, used as a Public House, and containing two sitting rooms, tap room, four bed rooms, and back kitchen, with garden.

Lot 3.—THREE COTTAGES, each containing four rooms, with gardens in the rear, all occupied by respectable tenants.

Lot 4— ONE larger HOUSE, with back kitchen, and garden, also let to a good tenant.

Many plots that did not sell were used for market gardens and were gradually built up. For example, the following advertisement appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 19 March 1859:

Eligible FREEHOLD BUILDING SITE,
With two Frontages and a fine View of Oxford, Situate at NEW HEADINGTON
A large enclosed Space of GROUND, now cultivated as a Garden, in the occupation of Mr. Neville, and having two frontage of 98 feet 6 inches each, and 102 feet in depth from East to West. Immediate possession may be had.

Most of the houses were let out, and were often sold with sitting tenants, as in the following advertisements for forthcoming auctions in Jackson's Oxford Journal indicate:

21 May 1859:

FREEHOLD COTTAGES AND GARDENS, AT NEW HEADINGTON,
TITHE FREE AND LAND TAX REDEEMED

Lot 1.— A substantial Stone-built and Slated FREEHOLD Four-roomed COTTAGE, with wash-house, piggeries, and gardens back and front, in the occupation of Mr. Brookfield, of the County Police.

Lot 2.— A Brick-built & Slated FREEHOLD COTTAGE, containing sitting room, two bed rooms, pantry and wash-house, with a large garden at the back, in the occupation of Mr. Charles Cooper.

3 July 1858:

All those Seven Stone-built and Blue-slated HOUSES, with Gardens attached, situate at New Headington, Oxon, in the respective occupations of Messrs. Merry, Kimber, Gurden, Pettyfer, Gibbons, and Thornton, and producing an annual rental of £6. Each House contains four rooms, and is well supplied with good water.

19 May 1866

Two substantial-built FREEHOLD HOUSES, each containing sitting room, wash-house, pantry, and three bedrooms, pump and well of excellent water, piggery, and large garden, with back entrance thereto, the whole occupying a site of about 16 poles of ground, in the occupation of Messrs. Dickens and Gurden, situate in the village of New Headington, let at low rentals amounting to £13 per annum.

As late as 1860, the village streets do not appear to have had names, and the area is described as “the newly setout roads near the Britannia Public House, New Headington”. It is likely that the main road was known as the High Street, however, and that the former names of Bateman Street and Gardiner Street (East and South Road) were used descriptively. The rest was probably loosely described as the Square.

In the 1860s there was also some building along the south side of the London Road near New High Street, and these houses were also deemed to be in New Headington. The following advertisement for Clifton House (which stood roughly where Boots is now) appeared on 11 June 1870, following the death of the occupant, Mr Townsend:

CLIFTON HOUSE, NEW HEADINGTON, containing three reception rooms, four bed rooms, capital cellarage and offices, very productive garden, coach-house and stable, vinery, &c. Rent, £30. —Immediate possession

Headington's first dentist, Joseph Wedgewood, had moved into Clifton House by 1871.

By 1871 the village of New Headington had 93 houses and a population of 444, but apart from Clifton House, the only villas that had been anticipated were at the top of New High Street.

This advertisement for a forthcoming auction published in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 13 February 1875 shows that the roads of New Headington still had no names:

In New Headington.
Two Brick and Slated FREEHOLD COTTAGES, fronting the lower road, New Headington, each containing 3 rooms and wash-house, with Gardens, occupied by Messrs. Field and Viles. Also a FREEHOLD Stone-built and Slated COTTAGE, fronting the upper road, New Headington, and containing 3 rooms and cellar, with Garden attached, in the occupation of James Trinder, all punctual tenants, and producing an aggregate rental of £16 10s. per annum.

Similarly on the 1876 map of Headington below no roads have names:

1876 New Headington

So far Lime Walk did not exist, and Windmill Road was virtually undeveloped, with only the toll house at the top by the toll-gate and the windmill itself and the Wingfield Convalescent Home at the south end, so the village was still the same shape it had been in 1852, and houses were still only spread thinly. This was about to change, though, as in 1875 the Revd Taylor of the Rookery in Old Headington began to sell off the land of Highfield Farm for development, and the south part of Lime Walk became part of the village: see Highfield.

There was also development to the north-west in 1878 ten acres of land on the corner of London Road and the east side of Windmill Road were bought by Daniel Clarke, a gentleman from High Wycombe, and by 1898 sixteen houses had been built here, as well as Headington Co-op on the corner, on the site of the former toll house. Initially the whole of Windmill Road was deemed to be part of New Headington, but it was later split down the middle between Highfield and Quarry parishes.

The roads of New Headington were bad. The following piece by the Revd John Holford-Scott, Vicar of St Andrew's, appeared in the parish magazine in September 1889:

The Roads and Drainage of New Headington
Cannot some immediate steps be taken to insure the Roads of New Headington being passable this winter?
    Relative to the above the Vicar begs to enclose a letter he has received from the Local Government Board, and assures his readers that he will never rest until some solution is found to the all important problem of “How to drain and pave New Headington”.

Once Highfield parish was created in 1910 with the opening of All Saints' Church in Lime Walk, the focus of the village moved west: so much so that people started to give their address as Highfield rather than New Headington.

The next major street to appear in the new village was Kennett Road. In March 1924 Arthur Edward Vallis (the builder at 61 Windmill Road who was the forerunner of Blanchfords) bought the field that William Latimer had retained and Kennett Road (originally called New Road) began to be built up.

The final streets to be built in the immediate area of New Headington village were:

  • Norton Close, built in 1967 on the market garden of S. West & Sons and named after a quarryman,
  • Mattock Close, a council estate built in 1983 on the land of John Mattock's Rose Nursery.

For the early development of New Headington village and Highfield, see Malcolm Graham, “Housing development on the urban fringe of Oxford, 1850–1914”, Oxoniensia LV (1990), pp. 152–156

© Stephanie Jenkins

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