Headington history





Headington was still under the sea
Fragments of coral and the fossils of sea urchins remain at Magdalen Quarry and Rock Edge, which was probably the boundary between a coral reef and the surrounding shallow sea

c.1000 BC

Stone Age man was living in Headington
(Artefacts found at Manor Ground and in the Quarry and Barton Lane area)

c.600 BC

Bronze Age/early Iron Age man was living in Headington
(Artefacts found at Manor Ground and Ruskin College)


Roman Headington
(Villa found at Headington Wick, kilns on site of present Churchill Hospital and NE end of The Slade, and pottery in Barton, Ruskin College, etc)


Saxons were living in Headington
(Burial ground discovered on site of present Stephen Road)


Oxford was carved out of the royal domain of Headington by this date


King Ethelred granted the tithes of the “royal vill” of Headington (“Headan dune”) to St Frideswide Priory in Oxford on St Andrewstide (7 December 1004)


King Ethelred believed to have had a palace in Headington by this date


Domesday Book recorded details about Headington that show the King had regained the ownership of it from St Frideswide’s Priory


First mention of St Andrew’s Church, Headington (in a charter of Henry I)


Death of Henry I, the last king to reside in Headington


Headington Manor was sold by the King to Hugh de Pluggenait


The windmill was already in existence on Windmill Road

Cow burial from 12th or early 13th century discovered near Stoke House


The hamlet of Barton was well established, as it was already known as Old Barton. The Hundred Rolls of 1279 record eleven households there


The Manor of Headington continued to control land from Headington Wick in the east to Binsey in the west and from Sescut Farm in Wolvercote in the north to Shotover in the south


Quarrying began in earnest: New College bell-tower was built of Headington stone


The parish of Marston was united with Headington


William Orchard leased a quarry in Headington to build at Magdalen College


The Brome/Whorwood dynasty became Lords of the Manor of Headington


Mention of a wayside cross in Headington, probably at High Cross Bush (the Headington carfax)


The Oxford printer Herman Evans had a house in Headington


The road from Headington to Oxford (now Old Road) was improved to transport stone down via the Milham Ford to build Cardinal College (Christ Church)


The Churchwardens of Headington were charged with having cut down “custom-boughs at Whitsuntide for the Church”


The earliest part of the Rookery (now Ruskin College) was built


Corpus Christi College produced what is probably the earliest surviving map of the whole Headington area, showing all the lands owned by the college. St Andrew’s Road is named as “Highe Streete” and Cuckoo Lane as “Oxforde Waye”.


A hamlet began to develop at Quarry


Civil War: The Parliamentarian Sir Thomas Fairfax moved his headquarters from Marston to Headington


Charles Beauclair, first son of Charles II and Nell Gwynn, was ceated Baron Headington


The earliest surviving Headington parish register began its records


The terraced walkway up Headington Hill was created by public subscription of the University

Highfield Farmhouse was built at about this time


A fire in Old Headington (which started in St Andrew’s Lane and spread across to Old High Street) destroyed 24 dwellings

Thomas Hearne recorded that “a great part of the Church Yard … is turned to a prophane Use, and separated from the other Part … by a wall, as if it did not at all belong to it.”


Headington Manor House was built


William Jackson, founder of Jackson’s Oxford Journal, built Headington House


Headington now well known for bull-baiting, and a near riot there when undergraduates, prevented by villagers from tying a cat to a bull's tail, embarked on an orgy of destruction, halted by the arrival of the proctors


The New London Road was cut through fields between Headington Hill and Wheatley


Tom Paine’s effigy was burnt at Headington on 4 January 1793/4


Bury Knowle House was built


Population of Headington: 669


Headington Enclosure Act


Free School opened in Headington Quarry


The Lords of the Manor of Headington sold 315 outlying acres of Headington manorial land, comprising most of Headington Quarry and land to the south-west of Old Road and the north-west of Dunstan Road


First phase of Headington Hill Hall was completed for James Morrell


Warneford Asylum (Headington’s first hospital) was built


Headington’s first nonconformist chapel (Methodist) opened in Trinity Road, Quarry


The Headington Union of 22 parishes was set up under Poor Law Amendment Act


Headington’s second nonconformist chapel (Baptist) opened in the Croft


The 345 remaining acres of the lands of Headington Manor were put up for auction on 3 August 1836; all the land was finally sold in 1846


A new Union Workhouse was built on London Road near Gladstone Road


Old Headington Infant School opened in North Place


Population of Headington at census: 1,668


Headington National School opened on London Road


Headington Quarry became a separate parish on opening of Holy Trinity Church


New Headington village was laid out (the present New High Street, Bateman Street, and the grid of small roads to the south)


A new, larger Methodist Chapel opened in Headington Quarry


Headington Quarry National School opened


All Saints Mission Chapel opens in Church (now Perrin) Street


Wingfield Convalescent Home opened on present site of Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre)


New Headington Infant School opened in Church (now Perrin) Street

John Mattock started his rose-growing business in William (now Wilberforce) Street


Land for on top of Headington Hill was purchased for a reservoir to serve Oxford (but not Headington)


The Revd John Taylor of the Rookery started to sell off the lands of Highfield Farm. The development of the Highfield estate began with a villa on London Road (first known as Ellerslie, later as Dorset House)


The London Road was disturnpiked


The development of Pullen’s Lane started with The Pullens


The windmill on Windmill Road was pulled down

The toll-gates were removed from the central Headington carfax

The British Workman opened in Old High Street


The southern part of Lime Walk was built


Headington cemetery opened


Formation of Headington Silver Band (now the City of Oxford Silver Band)


Following the Local Government Act of 1888, the Municipal Borough of Oxford was extended eastwards to match the parliamentary borough. As a result, the part of Headington to the west of the Boundary Brook (which runs beside the White Horse, now underground) became part of Oxford


Population of Headington at census: 3,005
(Old Headington 879, Headington Quarry 1,080, New Headington 1,046)


The Co-op opened in a new building (now Buckell & Ballard) built on site of former toll-house on corner of London and Windmill Road

Stones were set up on Boundary Brook by Cuckoo Lane and Headington Road to mark the new boundary of Headington. The area to the west of this boundary (including the Warneford Hospital) was no longer included under Headington in Kelly’s Directory


Headington Football Club (later Headington United and eventually Oxford United) was founded

West's Nursery opened on Windmill Road


Headington Rural District Council, covering all of Headington to the east of the Boundary Brook, was created

Headington Road and Pullen’s Lane were taken into St Clement’s parish and became part of the City of Oxford


Cecil Sharp saw William Kimber morris-dancing at Sandfield Cottage on London Road, and this led to the revival of English folk music


Reservoir opened on Shotover, and gradually Headington began to get piped water for the first time


Headington’s first council school opened on Margaret Road


Joe Pullen’s Tree, Headington’s famous landmark, was burnt down

In September the Conservative van touring the county with propaganda against the People's Budget was overturned in Headington Quarry


All Saints Church in Lime Walk opened, and New Headington village and the houses built on the former Highfield Farm became a separate parish from St Andrew’s, known as Highfield


Population of Headington at census: 4,488


The 1½-mile residence limit for members of Congregation was abolished, leading to dons’ families moving to Old Headington, and to new houses built at the western end of Old Road in the 1920s


The brickfields in Quarry ceased operation


Many Headington men died at the Somme. The eventual total of Headington dead in World War I was 123


The last Lord of the Manor of Headington (Colonel James Hoole) died, and the Trustees of the Radcliffe Infirmary bought the Manor House and its lands


C. S. Lewis came to lodge in Headington and stayed for the rest of his life


Headington was connected to the city sewage system


Population of Headington at census: 5,328


New Cinema (later the Moulin Rouge) was officially opened at 5.40pm on Monday 8 October 1923


101 council houses (the first in Oxford) were built on the north-east side of the London Road in Headington


First city bus service to Headington, terminating at Green Road

Shirley Hall in Lime Walk (provided by Mr J. Shirley of the London Road) opened as a central Headington meeting place. (The building is now the Church of St  Ebbe’s in Headington)


Headington Urban District Council was formed at the request of the parish council. It only lasted one year, but in that time purchased land on the Barton estate for 60 homes, acquired land for a public open space in Windmill Road (now St Leonard’s Road car park), passed more than 200 plans to erect homes, and granted nearly 40 private enterprise subsidies


Headington to the east of Gipsy Lane (1,529 acres) was incorporated into the City of Oxford. Headington Urban District Council was dissolved in August 1929, and the City Council took over the new suburb. Headington was quickly brought up to city standards, getting electricity and telephone for the first time, and better pavements

C.S. Lewis bought The Kilns in Risinghurst with his brother and Mrs Moore


Headington School moved into its present site on Headington Road

314 council houses were built on the new Gipsy Lane estate

Headington Telephone Exchange was now open at the top of Lime Walk

The city council purchased Bury Knowle House and park


The Headington population was now 10,131, nearly double what it was ten years earlier, mostly because of the development of Morris Motors

Headington Workhouse became a hospital called The Laurels


Bury Knowle Park was opened to the public

Oxford Preservation Trust bought 50 acres of South Park (handing it over to the city in 1959 to be preserved as an open space)

Abolition of the Headington registration district covering the 22 parishes of the old Headington Union. Headington Births, Marriages, and Deaths henceforth registered as Oxford

Lime Walk Methodist Church opened, and the old chapel in New High Street became the church hall


Wingfield-Morris Orthopaedic Hospital opened in grounds of the Wingfield Convalescent Home (now Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre)


Bury Knowle Library was the first branch library to be opened in Oxford

Quarry Village Hall opened in Margaret Road


The Northern Bypass from the present Headington to Banbury Road roundabouts (unemployment relief work) was completed


Oxford Youth Hostel opened in Jack Straw’s Lane

Headington’s first Roman Catholic Church (Corpus Christi) opened in Margaret Road


Slade Territorial Army Barracks opened

Headington Sorting Office opened in Lime Walk in telephone exchange building


The Slade Hospital opened on 3 February to replace the Cold Arbour Isolation Hospital

Oxford Crematorium opened in Bayswater Road


The Churchill Hospital was built to provide wartime medical services


Barton council estate was built. In 1948 the hut used by foreman of works was purchased by the Society of King Charles the Martyr as a place of worship and presented to St Andrew’s Church


Building of 570 council houses at Northway started, including Plowman Tower, Oxford’s first multi-storey block


Building of 510 council houses started at Wood Farm

J. R. R. Tolkien moved to 76 Sandfield Road

Oxford City Council bought Headington Hill Hall and Park from the Morrell family


Lord Nuffield laid the foundation stone of Oxford College of Technology at Gipsy Lane (now Oxford Brookes University)


Headington Telephone Exchange moved from Lime Walk to its present site on the London Road


Oxford City Council adopted the first green belt outside London. This offered some protection to Headington, although building continued in the green-belt at Barton

The Conventional District of Bayswater was formed by the Church of England to serve both the Barton and Sandhills estates


260 council houses were built at Town Furze

A housing estate (including William Kimber Crescent) was built on the site of The Laurels (the former workhouse)

Consecration of St Mary’s Church in Bayswater Road

Headley Way was extended from Woodlands Road to the London Road



80 council houses were built at Headington Quarry

Robert Maxwell started to rent Headington Hill Hall

Old houses on the Green Road in Headington Quarry were demolished to make way for the new eastern bypass linking Headington and Rose Hill


Planning application to build Forester’s Tower at Wood Farm approved


A subway was installed in Headington shopping centre


All Saints Church House was opened by Princess Margaret on 24 March


Building started on Phase 1 (maternity department) of the John Radcliffe Hospital


Oxford College of Technology was designated Oxford Polytechnic


Old Headington and Headington Quarry were designated Conservation Areas

On 12 November1971 the Marston Ferry Road was extended, replacing the old ferry and providing a new route to Headington via Headley Way


150 council houses were built on site of the Laurels (former workhouse) in Gladstone Road


The number of houses built at Barton reached 1600


St Luke’s Hospital moved to Latimer Road


St Mary’s Church in Bayswater was granted full parish status

Council housing (Mattock Close) was built on the land of Mattock’s Nurseries off Windmill Road


Council housing was built on the land of Laurel Farm in Old Headington


The shark was erected on roof of 2 New High Street


Robert Maxwell died, and Headington Hill Hall was repossessed

Headington Cinema (latterly known as Not the Moulin Rouge) closed


Oxford Polytechnic became Oxford Brookes University, named after John Henry Brookes

Headington Quarry ecclesiastical parish was reduced in size. Its boundary to the south-west was now the Boundary Brook, but with Little Oxford and the Warneford Meadow included to the west


Little Oxford” estate (Demesne Furze, Mileway Gardens, etc.) was built to the south of Old Road, at the west side of the Old Road Campus


Planning permission was granted for two retail units and twelve flats above on the site of the shops at 80, 82, 84, 86, 88, 90, 92, & 94 London Road and 1–1C New High Street including the cinema (98/01284/NF)


Development of Old Road Campus began in earnest


Oxford United played its last game on the Manor Ground


Oxford City Council’s North-East Area Committee (comprising Headington and Marston) was formed

A Street Party for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee was held in Old Headington


The return to a two-tier system of education was completed.
Headington Middle School, Bayswater Middle School, and Headington Quarry First School closed down. Windmill Primary School moved into the Headington Middle School buildings, Bayards Hill Primary School (the new name for Barton First School) into the former Bayswater School buildings, and Headington Nursery School into the Headington Quarry School buildings

First Headington Festival took place


Planning permission for 115 homes on the site of Barton Village First School granted (04/00383/RES, modified by 05/00376/RES)


The Manor Hospital opened on the former Manor Ground

Headington postal distribution and collection office in Lime Walk closed down


Headington Baptist Church opened its new building on its Old High Street site in November

The EF Language School took over the Plater College buildings in Pullen’s Lane


The Radcliffe Infirmary completed its move to Headington

The Oxford Children’s Hospital and West Wing opened on the John Radcliffe site

St Ebbe’s in Headington Church opened in the former Shirley Hall (lattterly the Exclusive Brethren Church) in Lime Walk



Slade Territorial Army Barracks closed down, and the OBLI Museum and the Oxford Boer War Memorial moved to Dalton Barracks in Abingdon. A housing development began on the site

Work started on widening and improving the Headington and London Road

The special Armed Forces Department of Pathology opened at the John Radcliffe Hospital, and Headley Way repatriation tributes to soldiers killed in Afghanistan started on 16 June



The Oxford Cancer Centre opened on the Churchill site

20mph speed limit came into operation in Headington centre and on all minor roads in Headington and Marston (1 September)




The Warneford Meadow was registered as a Town Green

The Headington subway was filled in as part of the second phase of the London Road scheme



Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust formed

North-East Area Committee abolished

EF International Academy took over Cotuit Hall

The eighteenth-century walled garden at Ruskin College was restored



Sikh Temple opened on the London Road

Ruskin College moved up to Headington



Abacus College moved to Headington



Completion of The Willows development on the former Barton Road Cricket Groun



House building began on the new Barton Park estate

Access to Headington” road improvement scheme began

Work on the £14.8 million Hospital Energy Project began in the grounds of the John Radcliffe Hospitalq

Lock Court opened on the former city council depot site in Bury Knowle Park



Big Data Institute opened by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond

See also Brief History of Headington

© Stephanie Jenkins

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