Headington Hill Hall

Headington Hill Hall stands on Headington Hill in the east of Oxford, England.[1] It was built in 1824 for the Morrell family, local brewers, and was extended between 1856 and 1858, by James Morrell Jr. (1810–1863) who built an Italianate mansion, designed by architect John Thomas.[2] The family remained in residence for 114 years.

Oscar Wilde attended an all-night fancy dress May Day Ball given by Mr and Mrs Herbert Morrell at the Hall on 1 May 1878 for around three hundred guests, gaudily dressed as Prince Rupert.[3] Lady Ottoline Morrell (1873–1938), who owned the Hall for a period,[4] was particularly associated as a hostess with the Bloomsbury Group.

From 1939, the property was requisitioned by the government for use as a military hospital during World War II. After the war ended, the Hall became a rehabilitation centre. It was run by the Red Cross and the Order of St John.[5]

In 1953 James Morrell III sold Headington Hill Hall to the Oxford City Council. The buildings continued to be used as a rehabilitation centre until 1958.[5]

Subsequently, the publisher Robert Maxwell (1923–1991), founder of Pergamon Press, leased the building from the Oxford City Council for 32 years. He described it as the "best council house in the country."[6] During his time there, Maxwell commissioned a stained-glass window depicting Samson at the Gates of Gaza by Israeli sculptor Nehemia Azaz, which is a feature of the imperial staircase.[7]

Since 1992, the Council has leased Headington Hill Hall to Oxford Brookes University.[8] It currently houses a number of Law lectures, and the Oxford Brookes University School of Law.[9]

See also


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