Headington history: Listed Buildings/Structures

Go forwards

Wick Farm, Barton: Farmhouse, well house and barn

Wick Farmhouse

List entry for Wick Farmhouse: 1047636
List entry for Wick Farm Well House: 1047637
List entry for eastern pair of gate piers and attached wall: 1047638
List entry for western pair of gate piers and attached wall: 1369181
List entry for Wick Farm Barn: 1369220

Until 1881 the boundary of the parish of Headington looped north to include Wick Farm
and it continued to be considered part of Headington after that date.
The farm now lies outside the current city boundary (marked by the Bayswater Brook)
and comes under South Oxfordshire District Council

Wick Farm (also known as Headington Wick) in Barton, Headington was already in existence in the thirteenth century. Its name suggests that it was probably a dairy farm. (Stow Surv. 171 (1598): “In diuers countries, Dayrie houses or cottages, wherein they make butter and cheese, are vsually called Wickes”.)

In the seventeenth century Wick Farm was the second largest farm in the parish of Headington. On 17 November 1781, when it was available to let, an advertisement in Jackson’s Oxford Journal stated it was then about 250 acres.

Arthur Maling, one of James Murray’s assistants on the original Oxford English Dictionary project, annotated a slip for wick (in the sense meaning “farm”) with the comment that “Headington Wick is a farm-house between Headington & Elsfield”.

The present farmhouse (shown above) was built in the mid- or late eighteenth century, and is Grade II listed. The barn behind the well house, and the gate piers and walls, are the same age and are also listed structures. The well house that can be seen to the left is older and is Grade II* listed (see below).

The drawings below showing the gate piers at Wick Farm were made by B. H. Collcutt in August 1905 and were published in The Builder on 20 July 1907:

Gate piers in The Builder

Under the detail of the cornice at the top, Collcutt writes: “The enrichment on mouldings is very indistinct and has almost weathered away.”

In the 1805 Headington Enclosure Award, Barton Village Road is described as the Road to Wick Farm:

Also one private Carriage Road and Driftway of the breadth of forty feet numbered XIV leading in a Northward, North Eastward and South Eastward direction from Barton near the cottage of John Smith to the Wick Farm in Headington aforesaid which said private Road and Driftway is hereby set out to and for the use of owners and occupiers of the said Wick Farm for the time being

Roman Villa near Wick Farm

Owners of Wick Farm since the nineteenth century

In 1813 Theophilus Wharton junior and his brother Brian Wharton, sons of the apothecary Theophilus Wharton and his wife Ann, bought Wick Farm for the then huge sum of £9,900 and let it out. On 5 August 1826 the Wharton brothers inserted a notice in Jackson's Oxford Journal that “all persons found trespassing on the Lands, or gathering Nuts in the Coppices or Hedge Rows, on the WICK FARM, in the parish of HEADINGTON, will be prosecuted to the utmost rigour of the law”.

Theophilus Wharton died in 1831, and the farm remained in the ownership of his brother Brian. On 2 June 1838 it was advertised thus in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

TO be LET, for fourteen years.—The WICK MANOR FARM, in the parish of Headington, containing 200 Acres of Arable, Meadow, Pasture, and Coppice Lane.
Possession to be had at Michaelmas next.—For particulars apply to the proprietor, Mr. Wharton, Headington.

Bryan Wharton died in 1839, and the farm was held by their executors until at least 1850, probably until the expiry of the 14-year lease in Michaelmas 1852.

The farm then passed to Mrs Emily Stone née Morrell (1811–1891). She was the daughter of Theophilus and Bryan Wharton’s sister Jane, who had married James Morrell senior, the brewer of Headington Hill Hall in 1808. Emily owned the farm from 1839 until her death in 1891.

It was then inherited by Emily’s niece Emily Alicia Morrell (who had married her cousin (George) Herbert Morrell in 1874 and thus retained her surname). A report in Jackson's Oxford Journal for 14 July 1900 headed “Rotation Experiments at Headington” records trials by Herbert Morrell with swedes, barley, and oats, and states that “the soil is fairly deep, and consists almost entirely of fine sand, lying on one of the limestone rocks of the Middle Oolite system”.

Kelly's Directory for 1936 records: “Wick Farm, the property of Mrs. G. H. Morrell, contains an interesting well, enclosed with a stone canopy of ancient date.” She owned Wick Farm until her death in 1938.

Tenants of Wick Farm

At the time of the 1841 census the lessee was William Eeley (20), who lived here with Mary Eeley (15) and a female servant and three agricultural labourers. In Jackson's Oxford Journal of 24 December 1842 he thanked his friends who helped to extinguish a fire on the premises.

In the Headington rate book of 1850 the executors of Brian Wharton are still stated to be the owner of Wick Farm, and William Parker was the tenant farmer. It was then just over 202 acres in size, with a gross estimated rental of £248 and a rateable value of £237.

At the time of the 1851 census James Cross (30) was living at the farm with his wife Eliza (35), and in directories of 1854 and 1863 he is listed as bailiff at Wick Farm. By the time of the 1871 census he and his wife were still at Wick farmhouse, and he is described as an “agricultural labourer foreman”; and In 1881, when his two nieces were living with them at the farmhouse, he is again described as a “farm bailiff”. It appears that William Parker or Parke was still the farmer, however, as he is listed as such in an 1876 directory.

In 1891 William Richard Knowles (26) was the farm bailiff, and he was living in the farmhouse with his wife Sarah. They were still there twenty years later in 1911. On 19 September 1891 he advertised in Jackson's Oxford Journal for a shepherd to take care of a flock af about 300 Oxfordshire Down Ewes.

Recent ownership

Latterly Wick Farm belonged to John Buswell of Bayswater Farm. Buswell Parks opened a park of timber-framed starter homes there (as well as at Bayswater Farm, Bayswater Mill, and Old Marston).

in 2012 Buswell's sold the 280-acre Wick Farm site (not including the homes park) to Harry Aubrey-Fletcher and his family. They formed Wick Farming Ltd and in 2017 announced their hope of building 1,850 homes there.

At the end of 2018 the Treasurer and College Accountant of Christ Church (James Lawrie and Keith Stratford) were appointed directors of Wick Farm Ltd in place of the Aubrey-Fletchers. Together with the existing Christ Church land to the west, the farm's fields are now part of the Bayswater Oxford development scheme.

The well house at Wick Farm

Farms needed vast quantities of water, and a well house held machinery (such as a donkey wheel or horse gin) for raising it.

Well house in 2019

The above picture, taken in 2019, shows the farm’s impressive well house, which dates from about 1660. Over the doorway is a lion mask, and a scroll pediment on brackets. Inside there are steps down to the well, which is now covered.

The drawings below showing the well house were made by B. H. Collcutt in August 1905and were published in The Builder on 20 July 1907:

Drawings of well house in The Builder

The postcard below shows the well house in about 1918:

Old postcard of Well House

Wick Farm Well House is the only Headington building other than St Andrew’s Church and Headington Hill Hall to have a Grade II* listing.

In 2012 it was placed on the English Heritage At Risk register:

Historic England (the Listed Buildings section of English Heritage) still has the well house on its Heritage at Risk register here at the end of 2018. The assessment information is as follows:

Assessment Type: Building or structure
Condition: Poor
Occupancy / Use: Not applicable
Priority Category: C - Slow decay; solution agreed but not yet implemented
Previous Priority Category: C
Ownership: Private

Documents relating to Wick Farm held at the Oxfordshire History Centre

In the records of Franklin & Jones, Chartered Surveyors, Land Agents, and Auctioneers:

  • 1897: Valuation ledger, including Wick Farm, Old Headington: B28/1/F1/33
  • 1898: Valuation ledger, including Wick Farm, Headington: B28/1/F1/36
  • 1899: Valuation ledger, including Wick Farm, Headington: B28/1/F1/38
  • 1900/1901: Valuation register, including Wick Farm, Headington: B28/1/F1/45
  • 1901: Valuation ledger, including Wick Farm, Headington: B28/1/F1/49
  • 1902: Valuation ledger, including Wick Farm Headington: B28/1/F1/51 and B28/1/F1/54
  • 1912/13: Valuation ledger, including Wick Farm Headington: B28/1/F1/111
  • 1940: Valuation register, including Wick Farm, Headington: B28/1/F1/289
  • 1950: Plan of Wick Farm Headington, with summary of timber in Wick Copse: B28/1/M1/9/1
  • 1952/3: Valuation ledger: B28/1/F1/361 and B28/1/F1/362
  • 1955: Valuation ledger: B28/1/F1/378

In the records of the Oxford Preservation Trust

  • 1930–1952: Correspondence including Wick Farm at Headington: O21/2/5/C1/1 (see items 14, 15, and 26)

© Stephanie Jenkins

Headington home Shark Oxford History home