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Crop Newmans CoE Littlemore 11 Feb 2007.JPG
Saints Mary and Nicholas parish church
Littlemore is located in Oxfordshire
 Littlemore shown within Oxfordshire
Population 7,421 (2001 census)[1]
OS grid reference SP537028
Civil parish Littlemore
District Oxford
Shire county Oxfordshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Oxford
Postcode district OX4
Dialling code 01865
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Oxford East
Website Littlemore Parish Council Oxfordshire
List of places

Coordinates: 51°43′12″N 1°13′37″W / 51.720°N 1.227°W / 51.720; -1.227

Littlemore is a district and civil parish in Oxford, England. The civil parish includes part of Rose Hill. It is about 2.5 miles (4 km) southeast of the city centre of Oxford, between Rose Hill, Blackbird Leys, Cowley, and Sandford-on-Thames.


In the Middle Ages, and perhaps earlier, most of Littlemore was a detached part of the parish of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford.[2] The rest of the township was in the parish of Iffley.[2] Littlemore was not made a separate ecclesiastical parish until 1847. It became a civil parish in 1866.[3]

Until the early 20th century Littlemore was rural. Extensive development started in the 1920s and continued in the 1950s.[2]

St Nicholas' Priory[edit]

Early in the 12th century Sir Robert de Sandford founded a priory of Benedictine nuns on a piece of land called Cherley.[4] It was dedicated originally to Saints Mary, Nicholas and Edmund, but within a few years this was reduced to only St Nicholas.[4] The location of Cherley was described variously as Sandford or Littlemore until the middle of the 13th century, after which it was referred to always as Littlemore.[4]

Sir Robert endowed the priory with six virgates of land in Sandford parish.[4] Subsequent members of the de Sandford family made further endowments: another nine virgates of land in Sandford, 10 shillings a year from Wytham, tithes from Bayworth and Lambourn, and land at Garsington, Kennington, Sydenham, Oxfordshire and Liverton in the parish of Chilton.[4] At one time the priory also claimed the advowson of St Mary's parish church at Puttenham, Hertfordshire and held land at Bureweya or Bergheia in the parish of Soham in Cambridgeshire.[4] King Henry III paid 40 shillings a year to maintain a prebendaria at the priory and in 1232 granted the priory one hide of land at Hendred.[4]

In 1445 Dr John Derby visited the priory on behalf of William Alnwick, Bishop of Lincoln.[4] Seven nuns were living there but their dormitory was in such disrepair that they did not sleep in it, for fear it would collapse.[4] The nuns were breaking their Rule by eating meat every day, three lay women were boarding at the priory, and a Cistercian monk frequently visited and drank with the prioress.[4]

In 1517 Edmund Horde visited the priory on behalf of a subsequent Bishop of Lincoln, William Atwater.[4] He found that the prioress, Katherine Wells, had an illegitimate daughter, the father was a priest who still visited her, and Wells had taken much of the priory's goods and pawned its valuables to provide the girl with a dowry.[4] There was no food, clothing or spending money for the nuns.[4] Within the last year another of the nuns had had an illegitimate child whose father was a married man in Oxford.[4] Some of the other nuns had rebuked Wells but she had responded by putting them in the stocks.[4]

There were five nuns, and Wells had ordered them all to tell Mr Horde that all was well.[4] Bishop Atwater summoned and examined Wells, who admitted these irregularities had been going on for eight years.[4] Atwater deposed her but allowed her to remain in post for the time being, provided she did nothing without Mr Horde's approval.[4] Nine months after Mr Horde's report, Bishop Atwater visited the priory himself.[4] He found that Wells had taken revenge on those nuns who had told the truth, putting one in the stocks for a month and kicking and punching another nun in the head.[4] Another nun continued to misbehave, romping (luctando) with boys in the cloister and refusing to stop.[4] When she was put in the stocks as a punishment, three other nuns released her and burnt the stocks.[4] When Wells tried to rebuke them, the four escaped from the priory via a window and went to stay with friends for two or three weeks.[4]

In 1524 Thomas Wolsey, the Lord Chancellor, recommended that the priory be dissolved.[4] In February 1525 the priory was dissolved and the prioress was pensioned off.[4]

Minchery Farmhouse[edit]

Minchery Farmhouse, latterly the Priory pub

One building of the priory survived. It has been identified as the east range of the cloister garth, with the chapter house and other rooms on the ground floor and the nuns' dormitory on the first floor.[5] In about 1600 it was remodelled as Minchery Farmhouse.[5] Later it was extended, probably late in the 18th century.[6] As Littlemore became more developed, the house was changed first into a country club and later into the Priory public house. After Oxford United F.C. moved to the nearby Kassam Stadium in 2001 the pub became popular with home fans on match days.

The house is now a Grade II* listed building.[6] In 1970 the historian William Pantin published a conjectural plan of the priory church, refectory and other buildings arranged around a cloister west of the surviving building.[7] In the summer of 2012 The East Oxford Archaeology & History Project excavated part of Minchery Farm Paddock.[8] It found walls of a well-built Medieval stone building at right-angles to the farmhouse. Finds of fine pottery, metalwork, decorated tiles and animal bones suggest it was a domestic building.[8] The building is roughly where Pantin postulated that the refectory may have been.[7]

In 2013 the pub fell into debt and in June it was closed.[9] Soon after its closure, vandals smashed most of the pub's windows.[10] In August its former pub landlord, Tim Rackley, started hosting special events for home fans at the Catherine Wheel pub in Sandford-on-Thames, and the Priory remained closed.[11]


Roman Catholic church of Blessed Dominic Barberi

Church of England[edit]

St Nicholas' priory had a priory church, but until the 19th century Littlemore had no parish church. In 1828 John Henry Newman was appointed vicar of St. Mary's and he started agitating for a separate church at Littlemore. The new parish church of Saint Mary and Saint Nicholas was designed by the architect H.J. Underwood, built in 1835[12] and consecrated in 1836.[2] The chancel and northeast tower were added in 1848, and the vestry in 1918.[12] The church is in a Gothic Revival style and became a model for smaller churches of the time.[2]

Roman Catholic[edit]

The Roman Catholic Church of Blessed Dominic Barberi was built in 1969.[5]

Littlemore Hospital[edit]

Dominating the southeast side of Littlemore on Sandford Road is the Littlemore Mental Health Centre, which includes Ashurst Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).[13]

Across the road is the former Littlemore Asylum building, founded in 1846,[14] which has been converted to private dwellings and renamed St George's Manor, along with several newbuild blocks named Surman House and Radcliffe House. Mandelbrote Drive, which serves the estate, is named for the association with Bertram Mandelbrote, whose pioneering work in the area of the therapeutic community[15] ultimately led to the move to new accommodation and sale of the building to private developers.

Littlemore Park & SAE Institute[edit]

The SAE Institute moved its headquarters in 2008 to the former Yamanouchi building, itself using a building from the former hospital. The building was acquired by RO Developments Limited in 2005 from Yamanouchi (more recently Astellas Pharma). RO Developments then converted the former hospital and extensively refurbished the building prior to selling to SAE Institute in 2008.


The Wycombe Railway opened Littlemore railway station in 1864 as part of its extension from Thame to Oxford.

In 1963 British Railways withdrew passenger services between Princes Risborough and Oxford and closed all intermediate stations including Littlemore. The line through Littlemore remains open for freight traffic between the Didcot   Oxford main line at Kennington Junction and the BMW Mini factory at Cowley.

Notable residents[edit]

The College

John Henry Newman[edit]

Littlemore is now probably best known for the work of Cardinal Newman, whose connection with the village began in 1828, when he was appointed vicar of St Mary the Virgin and soon began holding classes for the residents of Littlemore. He organised a successful petition to have a new church built. From 1842 to 1846 Newman lived at Littlemore, in a house in College Lane, under a rule of strict monastic discipline.[2] There he took up orders with the Roman Catholic Church (a sensation at the time), and was accepted into the faith by Father Dominic Barberi, a prominent Passionist active in England at the time. Birmingham Oratory bought the property in 1951,[2] and members of an International Religious Order are residents and custodians of the College.

Other residents[edit]

The trade unionist Henry Broadhurst (1840–1911) was born in the village, the son of a local stonemason.[2]

The Reverend Hayman Cummings, who wrote a book College Stamps of Oxford and Cambridge, was chaplain of Littlemore Hospital.[citation needed]

The local historian Edmund Arnold Greening Lamborn lived at 34 Oxford Road, Littlemore from 1911 to 1950.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Area selected: Oxford (Non-Metropolitan District)". Neighbourhood Statistics: Full Dataset View. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Lobel 1957, pp. 206–214
  3. ^ Vision of Britain[dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Page 1907, pp. 75–77
  5. ^ a b c Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 689
  6. ^ a b "Minchery Farmhouse". National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. 18 July 1963. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Pantin 1970, p. 23.
  8. ^ a b "Minchery". Archaeology of East Oxford. East Oxford Archaeology & History Project. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "Football fans dismayed at closure of Priory pub". Oxford Mail (Newsquest). 21 June 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Jennings, Tom (25 June 2013). "‘Preserve Priory pub’ U’s fans urge Kassam". Oxford Mail (Newsquest). Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Taylor, Mark (10 August 2013). "'Come on over to our place and raise a toast to the U's'". Oxford Mail (Newsquest). Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 688
  13. ^ A-Z of services by location - OBMH[dead link]
  14. ^ Marshalls Oxfordshire Places - Littlemore[dead link]
  15. ^ THERAPEUTIC COMMUNITIES. The Journal of the Association of Therapeutic Communities. From the Archives 3[dead link]
  16. ^ "Edmund Arnold Greening Lamborn (1877–1950)". Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Scheme. Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board. 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 


External links[edit]