Old Headington

Located at the edge of Old Headington in Oxford, and overlooking the John Radcliffe Hospital, this site was originally part of the former Headington Manor. It now lies within the Old Headington Conservation Area, which protects the architecture of the historic rural village, characterised by “a historic core of closely spaced houses fronting principal streets and an intricate network of smaller lanes including highly distinctive residential areas”. The property consists of two older buildings that were joined together via an infill extension in the 1950s. The oldest building on the site was originally an ancillary building within the manor; it is stone-built and most likely dates from the late eighteenth century. Its structure is a simple two storey building with a clay tile roof laid into curved hips. The original structure of this roof is still extant, having undergone recent major structural stabilisation work. The clay tiles are in a poor condition and many modern inappropriate repairs and replacements of the tiles have been made over the years. A brick chimney to the north east of the building appears to be original. 

Built in the mid to late nineteenth century, the Victorian part of the house forms the end of a terrace. This was a development likely built on the former manor gardens and used the local Shotover red brick laid in Flemish bond with blue headers at its front elevation. It is one of the earliest examples of this style of brick-built cottages in the area. The rear of the terrace is more functional than the gentile front, with a coal store, kitchen window and small yard. The coal store pattern is repeated along the terrace. As described earlier, a modern conservatory exists to the rear of this part of the building, having been constructed over a part of the yard.

The 1950s section of the house was granted planning permission in 1958 and joins the older buildings over two storeys, primarily by providing a shared staircase and hallway. Despite its simple form, its use of a lower roof, well proportioned windows and subservience to its neighbours means that the conglomeration of these three historically distinct parts of this house into one home is achieved without damaging the character of either the original stone structure or the later Victorian terrace. 

In the 1990s, permission was granted for a porch and works to the garage, neither of which significantly affected the original buildings or their setting, although the porch is flimsy and now in a poor state of repair.

The proposed extension is designed to complement the existing historical structures and replaces the obsolete C.20th conservatory currently in place. The first floor extension will utilise a red facing brick complementary to the original, with contrasting headers in a contemporary nod to the brick design at the front of the house. In conserving architectural heritage best practice dictates the avoidance of pastiche, as this will confuse the clear reading of the evolution of historic structures over time and dilute the effect of their original form. Therefore, although referencing the original, the new brickwork will be subtly different in order that the original form and design of the Victorian terrace is preserved and more easily read in its historical context. Additionally the first floor extension will contain one simple modern metal-framed window, in order to distinguish it from the original timber box-sash windows of the Victorian era, thus enabling these to be read as part of the original building. The size of the extension has been carefully calibrated to avoid impingement of light reaching the neighbouring windows, and matches the extent of the rear wall of the original coal store as its northerly limit. The extension’s roof will be low-pitched in order to reduce visual impact and preserve the profile of the original pitched terrace roof. 

At ground floor the existing conservatory will be replaced with a fully insulated glazed extension. The C.20th window that exists within the original stone boundary wall on the northern boundary will be removed and the wall repaired using matching materials. The new ground floor extension will sit back from this stone wall within the property, ensuring that its original form is preserved rather than over-cladding and incorporating it into modern construction. 

At the front of the house it is proposed to replace the existing ground floor C.20th bay window with a new bay window incorporating French doors and a lead roof. The style of the new bay will be simple and hand-made in durable timber, a material appropriate to its C.18th setting.

Client: Private client
Project Type: House extension and remodel
Location: Headington, Oxford
Status: Planning