Boars Hill, near Oxford (formerly Berkshire)

Boars Hill, pram

The above postcard was posted on 25 June 1907 from “M.K.M.” to Miss Tudor of St Hugh’s Hall, Oxford, proposing a visit “up the Hill” the following day.



The view is along Jarn Way looking east towards the junction with Berkeley Road, and on the right is The Heath, also known as “Berkeley Castle”, and later as Foxcombe Hall. The main building was acquired in 1933 as Ripon Hall, a theological college. (Ripon Hall amalgamated in 1975 with Cuddesdon College, and the name survives in “Ripon College Cuddesdon”.) The Open University bought the property in 1976.

The baby in the perambulator could well be the grandson of George, 7th Earl of Berkeley. An elderly resident’s father recalled that Lennox Berkeley, who was born at Boars Hill in 1903, was regularly taken out by his nanny.

Blue plaque on Ripon Hall

Right: Foxcombe Hall
(formerly Ripon Hall)
in September 2007

Below: Ripon Hall from the
grounds in c.1940

Ripon Hall

Ripon Hall from the grounds

Sandlands, Boars Hill

The above postcard shows the front of “Sandlands”, Foxcombe Road, Boars Hill, near Oxford (then in Berkshire). It was postmarked at Abingdon on 5 January 1905, and was sent by M. Perrott to Miss Berry at Hyde Park, London. It was produced for the architect of Sandlands, namely Stephen Salter, whose offices were above the Lloyds Bank on the north-west corner of Oxford’s High Street. He had himself designed this ornate bank, as well as the timber-framed building at 94 High Street (now occupied by Quod restaurant). Stephen Salter was the first occupant of this house, living there from about 1906 to 1908, and the postcards show members of his family.

The postcard below, which shows the back view of Sandlands with croquet hoops, was sent by the architect himself to H. B. Cooper, Esq., M.A. at Linton Road. Henry B. Cooper was a Fellow of Keble College and lived at Costessey House, 14 Linton Road. The card was postmarked at Oxford on 19 December 1906, and has an interesting message on the other side, apparently written in the architect’s own hand, also reproduced below.

Back of second Sandlands card

The above message reads:

I have now the last site on main road at Foxcombe Hill to let. Earl Berkeley has taken up all other main road sites to stop building. It is an ideal site for health which after all is the chief thing. Deep red sand subsoil about 500 ft above sea level. Sheltered from east, on 999 years lease, £8 per acre. It is close to Sandlands this green roofed house and only £1000. Pleased to show anyone over it. They would save time and money by so doing if they thought of building. SS

By 1930 Sandlands was occupied by Arthur Leslie Johnson. By 1935 Mrs Beatrice Grierson, a widow, had moved in. She died on 29 December 1938, and the house passed to her daughter, the widow Mrs Hilda Beatrice Corbett Harrison, who lived there with her daughter Anne Harrison. She was still there in 1941.

In 1942 Dugall Sutherland MacColl (1859–1948) moved into the house. It still exists, but is now known as Hill House.


Gladys Hall wrote on the back of the above postcard, “This is a photo of where I work.”

The Hydro

The Hydro

The above postcard of “The Hydro” is postmarked 17 September 1908. The Boars Hill Hotel and Hydro was later turned into a Country Club, and then flats. In 1985 it was turned back into the Foxcombe Lodge Hotel

Boars Hill in Kelly’s Directory

Kelly’s Directory for Berkshire for 1891 lists (under Wootton) five households and one business:

Hedderley Mrs, [The Lodge], Boars hill
Hughes Jesse, Boars hill
Mathews Angelo Alfred, West view, Boars hill
Shrimpton Arthur T., [Uplands], Boars hill
Wootten Wootten Gilbert R., Swiss cottage, Boars hill

Cotmore Charles, market gardener, Boars hill

By the time of Kelly’s Directory for Oxford 1894/5, the Earl of Berkeley had moved into Foxcombe Hall (then known as The Heath or “Berkeley Castle”), Arthur Evans had moved into Youlbury, and Miss Mathews had moved into Holycote.


Kelly’s Directory for Oxford for 1914–15 lists under “Neighbourhood of Oxford: Wootton” fifteen private households and ten businesses:

Berkeley Earl of, Foxcombe, Boars hill
Bridges Robert, M.A., M.B., D.Litt., Chilswell, Boars hill
Burton Charles V., M.D., Heath Cottage, Boars hill
Butt Miss, Willow gate, Boars hill
Candy Mrs. Boars hill
Evans Sir Arthur John, D.Litt., F.R.S., F.B.A., Youlbury, Boars hill
Fanshawe R. M.A., D.Litt., Boars Hill house
Hart Horace, M.A., Hillcrest, Boars hill
Hedderley Misses, Boars hill
Mathews Angelo Alfred Hankin, West view, Boars hill
Mathews, Wilfrid, Hollycote, Boars hill
Morgan Lieut.-Col. Jerome, Elcot lodge, Boars hill
Pearce James, Whitebarn, Boars hill
Stride Rev. William John Francis Keatley M.A. [vicar], The Parsonage, Boars hill
Thursby Francis, Boars Hill heath

Butterfield Mary (Mrs.), aparts., Boars hill
Cotmore Charles, market gardener & carrier, Boars hill
Dossett Annie (Mrs.), apartments, South view, Boars hill
Grimsdale Frederick John, carrier, Boars hill
Miller Jane (Mrs.), apartments, Hill view, Boars hill
Osborn John Thomas, gardener to Sir Arthur J. Evans, Boars hill
Phipps John, gardener to the Earl of Berkeley, Boars hill
Smith Stephen S., market gardener, Boars hill
Trinder Joseph William, sub-postmaster, Boars hill
Trinder O. (Mrs.), apartments, Boars hill

Essay on Boars Hill in 1905

William Warde Fowler wrote an essay on Boars Hill in The Oxford Country (1905), and Sandlands must have been one of the new houses he observed. Here are a few of extracts:

And as I approach the colony, where I have not been for months, new houses of all shapes and sizes tempt me to count them, but I soon get lost; … and the linnets that used to dance about on the gorse are not here to-day, while human beings and bicycles are everywhere. The thought comes into my mind that the colonization of the hill is really due to the bicycle, for without it the colonists could not speed down to their daily duties, learned or unlearned, in the misty valley below….

Nor is the peculiar Berkshire character of the hill as yet wholly vanishing. Boar’s Hill with its appurtenances is geologically an island; but it is an island in another sense too. It is an insulated bit of one type of Berkshire country – the country of Scotch firs, bracken, and gorse, with cottages of old red brick and tiled roofs covered with yellow lichen, and you must cross the plain and a good part of the Ilsley Downs before you come again upon such a combination of colour. The old cottages on the hill are not so obvious as they were, but all the rest is there, and neither on Shotover nor at Stow Wood, not anywhere on the Oxfordshire side can I feel as I do on these heights that I am in Southern England. At Beckley or Forest Hill I am in the Midlands; here I am in the sunny South.

… What will it all be like fifty years hence, and where will the Scholar Gipsy of that day find his rest? Will such a creature be suffered to exist?

Kelly’s Directory for 1935 states: “Boars Hill is a residential district, partly in the parish of Sunningwell and partly in the parish of Wootton. It is recommended as a health resort.”

John Betjeman in “Myfanwy at Oxford” (1940) writes of “Bicycle bells in a Boar’s Hill Pine”.

The Fox at Boars Hill
The Fox Inn, early 1930s

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