Headington history: Non-listed buildings

Go backwards
Go forwards

Brasenose Farm and Wood Farm

Brasenose Farm is situated in Headington Quarry parish (opposite Aldi), but since 1959 it has been cut off from the rest of Headington by the eastern bypass. Along with the adjacent “Open Brasenose”, it was owned by Brasenose College, and in the nineteenth century it was sometimes known as Bullingdon Green Farm.

Brasenose Farm 1881Map showing Brasenose Farm, Open Brasenose, and Bullingdon Green in 1881

Photograph of Brasenose Farm buildings
taken by Henry Taunt in 1916

Brasenose Farmhouse Brasenose Farmhouse in 1998

Brasenose Farm buildingOutbuilding at Brasenose Farm, photographed on 28 November 2015

At the time of the 1841 census Robert Hinde, described as a bailiff, lived at “Bullingdon Green Farm” with his wife Mary and two young servants.

The Headington Rate Book of 1850 lists Mrs Stockford as the owner of a house in Bullingdon Green, and Mr Kirby as the occupier. Its land measured 92 acres, and it had a gross estimated rental of £72 12s. and a rateable value of £66. The 1851 census confirms that Alexander Kirby (30) was then the farmer at “Bullingdon Green Farm”: he was described as a “farmer of 110 acres, employing four men”. Kirby is also listed as the farmer here in Gardner’s Directory of Oxfordshire of 1852, but in Lascelle’s Directory of 1853 the entry changes to Mrs Ann Kirby, who died in 1857.

At the time of the 1861 census, the agricultural labourer Robert Bowell lived at Brasenose Farm with his wife and two children. He was still living there in 1871, when he was described as a “Farm Servant, Indoor (in charge)”, with his wife and daughter.

In the 1860s Brasenose Farm appears to have been farmed by John Hurst of Temple Cowley: an advertisement in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 28 March 1868 stated that the sale of the farming stock of Hurst following his death was to take place “at the Brasenose Farm premises”.

By 1873 Brasenose Farm was rented by a Mr Hurman. Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 28 June 1873 reported the following case at Bullingdon Petty Sessions:

George Webb, of Headington Quarry, labourer, was charged with being in search of conies, in the day-time, in Brasenose Wood, on the 15th instant. Wm. Windows, a gamekeeper, in the employ of Mr. Hurman, stated that his master rented the farm from Brasenose College, and the land in question was that known as “Open Brasenose,” which was about thirty acres in extent, and open at one end. He saw defendant, with two other men, at half-past six in the morning of the above-named day, with two dogs and sticks, beating about among the bushes. Witness told defendant that he was doing wrong, but he made no reply. Mr. Hurman had never prosecuted any one before for trespassing, and there had been a good deal of dispute about Brasenose Wood. Webb, in defence, denied having a stick in his hand. The Magistrates considered that the case had not been sufficiently proved, and therefore dismissed it.

At the time of the 1881 census Robert Bowell, a widower of 66 described as a farm labourer, was living at “Brasenose Farm” together with another farm labourer, William Dennis (31) and his wife and four children.

By 1883 Brasenose Farm was held by John Chillingworth of Cuddesdon (who at the time of the 1881 census was living at the Manor Farm House, Cuddesdon and recorded as farming 350 acres and employing 18 men and three boys). His keeper, Frederick Surman, was now living at Brasenose Farm. Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 14 July 1883 reported thus on the summer assizes:

William Cross, 21, labourer, of Cowley (on bail) was indicted for setting fire to certain gorse and furze at Headington, on the 5th of May, on land in the occupation of John Chillingworth, of Cuddesdon, and the property of the Principal and Fellows of Brasenose College…. Frederick Surman, keeper to Mr. Chillingworth, who occupies Brasenose Farm, at Headington, said on the 5th of May he was on a part of the farm called Open Brasenose, where there were growing gorse and 3000 tied up fagots. The place was a sort of enclosed common, and it adjoined Brasenose Wood.

By 1891 Brasenose Farm was rented from Brasenose College by Richard Pether, who had been renting Wood Farm from Magdalen College since 1850. When in 1881 his son-in-law Frederick Morris returned to Headington from Worcester with his wife Emily and their first child William Richard Morris (the future Lord Nuffield). Pether made him his farm bailiff. The 1891 census lists Brasenose Farmhouse as being unoccupied, and shows the Morrises living at “Brasenose Lane” in Headington Quarry parish, presumably in an adjacent building.

By 1899 Abel Bricknell of Headington was the tenant of Brasenose Farm, and is named in a report in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 26 August that year about the successful prosecution by Brasenose College at Bullingdon Petty Sessions of three young men who had been poaching on the farm’s land. He is duly listed as a Quarry farmer in Kelly’s Directory of 1900, but by the time of the 1901 census George Bricknell (29) was the Farm Bailiff living at Brasenose Farm with his wife and young son: Kelly’s Directory lists him as a Quarry farmer from 1902 to 1904.

At the time of the 1911 census “Brazenose Farm” was occupied by the illiterate shepherd Edwin Colwell (52) and his wife and two children.

Brasenose Farm Cottage is now owned by Oxford City Council, and a planning application was approved in June in 2016 to convert the farm buildings: 15/01247/CT3

Brasenose Farm allotmentsSome of the farm land is now allotments, photographed on 28 November 2015.
The path was known as Brasenose Lane in the nineteenth century.

Wood Farm (owned by Magdalen College)

The 1894 Enclosure Award refers to a farm house near the Slade occupied by John Townesend (eldest son and heir of Stephen Townesend) and belonging to Magdalen College which is obviously Wood Farm.

In the 1841 census, the farmhouse at Wood Farm was occupied by the agricultural labourer William Saunders (55) and his wife and six children.

By 1851 Richard Pether left his brother Henry to farm Bartlemas Farm on his own and had taken on the lease of Wood Farm, coming to live within the boundary of the newly-established parish of Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry. His farm increased in size over the years, partly because he encroached on Open Magdalen.

Wood Farm



Other information given

1850 rate book

164 acres 2 roods

Gross estimated rental: £72 12s.
Rateable value: £66

1851 census

200 acres

17 men employed by Pether

1861 census

207 acres

12 men and 11 boys employed by Pether

1871 census

295 acres

9 labourers, 5 women, and 5 boys
employed by Pether

1881 census

370 acres

17 men, 3 women, and 6 boys
employed by Pether

Wood FarmMap of Wood Farm in 1878, showing part of Open Magdalen to the south east

In the early 1890s, when he was nearly 80, Richard Pether left Wood Farm and retired to Old Headington. Thomas W. White was leased the sporting rights of Open Magdalen in 1892, and is first listed as the farmer at Wood Farm in Valter's Directory of 1894, and it was known as White’s Farm until the 1950s.

In April 1934 Magdalen College sold the whole of the Wood Farm estate including Open Magdalen to Lord Nuffield for £26,000.

It was owned by the city council by 1953, when the building of the Wood Farm housing estate began.

© Stephanie Jenkins

Headington home Shark Oxford History home