This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 03/05/2018
SP 50 NW
Oxford Brookes University
Headington Hill Hall and attached forecourt wall
(Formerly listed under HEADINGTON HILL, OXFORD)
Country mansion. Circa 1856-8 by John Thomas for James Morrell, a local brewer; built by Joseph Castle. 1872, interior extensively remodelled for G.H. Morrell by local architect William Wilkinson.
Pale yellow brick with stone dressings and ashlar central bay to entrance front; ashlar with stone dressings to other facades. Tiled mansard roof having segmental arched dormers with finials and tall ashlar chimney stacks. Italianate/Louis XIII style.
Entrance front has three symmetrical bays. Two storeys, attic and cellar. Attached recessed and lower two storey service wing to right with projecting end bay having a hipped roof with bracketed eaves and tall ashlar and brick chimney stacks.
Main block bays defined by chanelled pilasters to each floor and angles and paired to central first floor bay. First floor band. Central porte-cochere of chanelled stone with round-arched openings having keystones; recessed window with margin glazing and small roundel at top. Banded pilasters and columns at angles support a Doric entablature with parapet having rectangular banded ball finials. Subsidiary entrance at left angle. Architraved sashes, ground floor shouldered, first floor eared and shouldered, all with margin glazing and shaped blind boxes. Entablature with cornice supporting a parapet with sections of pierced shaped openings to centre and in front of dormers.
Rear, garden facade, has Doric colonnade, carrying a parapet with pierced, shaped openings, fronting French windows and margin glazed sashes at five-bay ground floor. Colonnade approached by two flights of stone steps with six urns on dies. First floor bays defined by chanelled pilasters, paired at angles, with brackets supporting pierced roundel balustrade. Eared and shouldered architraves to margin glazed sashes with shaped blind boxes. Dormers similar to front facade. Colonnade continues around returns, breaking forward around canted ground floor bays with margin glazed sashes. Southern section approached by two flights of steps with three urns and two lead statues of Greek putti, one playing aulos and the other dancing with a bowed scarf. First floor sashes tripartite with pilasters, cornices and shaped blind boxes. Mostly tripartite dormers. Attached stone forecourt wall, mostly coursed stone but that flanking entrance piers of roundel balustrading; piers with good cast iron lanterns.
Interior: Large, rectangular, two storey, galleried and top-lit hall with pillars and pilasters supporting depressed arches with keystones and enriched plaster work spandrels. Moulded panelling to ceiling and walls which have round-arched openings and niches. Above arcaded entrance with sidelights, an inset compass; inset clock on left hand wall; opposite entrance, a pilastered statue niche with segmental pediment containing a high relief cartouche with the goddess Diana flanked by dogs with foliage and flora and surmounted by doves.
In compartment to right, an imperial staircase, having gilded balusters with roundels, leading to gallery with similar balustrading. At landing to first flight, newels have candelabra lamps; lighting stair, a late C20 stained glass window by Nehemia Azaz depicting Samson at the Gates of Gaza. Gallery arcaded to stair; arcading continues as niches or entrances to rooms. Coved, coffered celing with rectangular light having scrolled pendants and geometric patterned glazing.
Ground floor library and drawing room divided by narrow passage having panelled sliding doors and enriched round-arched entrances. Both rooms and passage with good elaborate plasterwork ceilings. Drawing room chimneypiece carved marble with doves and flora and overmantle with mirror and giltwork; library chimneypiece carved marble with herms and foliage, c1800 and reputedly from Fitzroy Square, London.
Dining room has coffered plasterwork ceiling of octagons and rectangles and a deep bracketed cornice; carved marble chimneypiece with dove and flora and mirror overmantle with painted wooden frame. Small first floor room with elaborate gilded enrichment to arcading, with acanthus leaf capitals, forming niches, overmantle, windows and entrance. Similarly elaborate gilded enrichment to coved cornices and coved portion of ceiling above entrance with interlocking design. Carved marble chimneypiece with foliage. Other rooms throughout house retain cornices and marble chimneypieces.
James Morrell was a brewer who played a prominent part in the life of the city of Oxford. The architect, John Thomas, was better known as a sculptor; he supervised the carving at the Palace of Westminster.
Listing NGR: SP5316806547